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Co-op Bank chooses which ethics to be ethical about

10th May 2013
Director Maximiti Limited
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Earlier this month the bigwigs from the Co-op bank were trumpeting about how their bank was in fine fettle and today it seems the viability of the bank is being called into question. So, how does a leader in "ethical banking" explain the sudden deterioration of fortune ?

Simple, you pick and choose your ethics. You stand on your soap box and shout how you don't invest in this industry or that industry , but you don't come clean about your finances and whether or not you are a going concern.

Ethics is not a la carte - it's all or nothing .

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Replies (16)

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By mrme89
10th May 2013 17:18

Their other services

They also open shops in communities of the aged and then charge extortionate prices as they know many don’t have the means to travel to a supermarket.  

 

Don’t get me started on their funeral ‘care’ either … 

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By Norman Younger
10th May 2013 18:41

Co-op funerals

Well no doubt the wood has been sourced from a Fairtrade forest in a conflict free zone and is burned in a manner that is carbon neutral . One of my first job attempts was with the CIS and I made it to the last few but much to my disappointment (then , not now)  I never got the job - what was it , oh yes it was fund management , ethical of course. The problem with this ethical lark is that everybody jumps on the wagon proclaiming their integrity so even if you are an outright crook, as long as you talk the talk, it's alright. That is the big drawback to the age of instant communication with online anonymous pressure groups who are holier than thou.Ethics are like Blackpool rock - should go all the way through from end to end whether personal or corporate.  

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By John McGovern
10th May 2013 18:59

Incompatible

How can you use the words "bankers"  and "ethics" in the same sentence, the two just don't go together.

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Replying to andy.partridge:
By Norman Younger
12th May 2013 11:39

Bankers and ethics

Ah , but wasn't the Co-op supposed to be different ?

I am fond of pointing out to people who come to me for advice that a banker is a man who lends you an umbrella when the sun is shining and asks for it back at the first sign of rain

 

Simple and to the point , and that is the dull boring retail bankers !

 

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By JC
12th May 2013 08:32

No taxpayer bailout for anyone - anymore .....

Just draw the line and start making these organisations accountable - if they go to the wall then so be it.

The same applies to UK Coal where the taxpayer is being encouraged to take on Daw Mill (before problems - supplied 5% of national energy needs) together with a load of Pension liabilities. UK Coal has a £543m shortfall in its two retirement schemes - not the taxpayers problem!

Quite frankly it is these nasty little 'Pension liabilities' that are the real issue. The country simply cannot afford the existing public sector pension liabilities (should terminate all public sector pensions for new entrants immediately) and for the State to take on more un-quantified problems is highly irresponsible (especially on top of the PO's £28bn recently taken on)

In the final count it is the taxpayer who would have to fund these things and as the State is currently not raising enough tax to pay its way, how are any more liabilities going to be funded - more borrowing adding to a debt we already cannot afford!

 

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Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
13th May 2013 07:53

How does this effect the bank's ethical credentials?

Yes the bank overstepped the mark when taking over Britannia and individuals at the top may well have been inept (one in particular) but how does that, in any way, tarnish the ethical stance of the Co-Op and other similar financial institutions? 

Setting out with whom, and with what, a bank will not do business is, for some people, the prime consideration in deciding where their funds should be placed & invested.  How the money is managed and, in particular the rate of return achieved, is secondary.  After all these few institutions still have to swim with sharks and operate in a market place that does not play by ethical rules and so an ethical investor will take that risk into account.

The rest of the population can stick with the norm, and have far much more to moan about, without needing to knock a sector they don't understand or care about.

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By MarionMorrison
13th May 2013 09:56

Going concern

As I understood it they still seem to be trading, albeit with a hole in their balance sheet that is not going to sink the thing, just require them to sell assets to put the balance sheet back into the right frame.  Has nothing to do with the ethics of the bank which are not compromised.  A piece I read in the paper said that one of the good points of the situation was that there would not be anything like a run on the Co-Op because their customers were not the lemmings to be found elsewhere.  

I have to say that they are the finest bank I've ever had and I use them personally (as smile) and commercially (as Co-Op Business Direct).  They're human, approachable, have been known to contact me to appraise me of potential overdrafts which would cost me in bank charges, deal with problems in a practical, friendly and Mancunian way.  Customer surveys confirm this and show that although they are nothing special in terms of problems occurring, they are second top in terms of how much they are liked by customers because of how they deal with problems.

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By Chris Smail
13th May 2013 13:09

Well said Marion

Coop are by far the best bank if you are involved in clubs, community groups and so on.

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By Norman Younger
13th May 2013 15:43

Co-op for clubs

Nobody doubts the fees and rates they charge are attractive , what we are examining is their claim to

the moral   high ground .

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Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
13th May 2013 21:32

No "we" are not

When I put my money with the Co-Op, Triodos, Reliance or other ethically motivated institutions or fund managers I'm satisfied that my money will do some good for organisations and issues that I hold dear and will be ring-fenced from others with which I want no connection and hundreds of thousands of charities and voluntary sector organisations feel and do the same.  

These banks have no need to claim any high ground, they just do it and this has not changed with this recent announcement.  

In the big scheme of things, with the Co-Op bank handling perhaps 2% of UK retail banking and, as Marion says, with this being in a different league to the major bank cock[***]-ups, my examination concerns your need to bang them over the head with an ethics hammer...did they turn you down for a loan or something?

 

 

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By Norman Younger
14th May 2013 09:16

Coop and me

Not at all . Actually they are the bankers for a charity that I am involved with and as a signatory.

So no axes being ground .

Ethics are more than tree hugging and such like. It is an all or nothing take on life , as I said earlier, and htey have fallen flat on their face in being open about their finances

I cannot abide by hypocrisy . The Coop are hypocrites.

 

 

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By JC
14th May 2013 09:23

Interesting that ..

So far nobody has included Islamic ethical banks

http://www.islamic-bank.com/

in the scheme of things

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By Norman Younger
14th May 2013 09:50

Ethical banking

Islamic banking is as Iunderstand it set up in a manner to avoid the faithful transgressing religious rules against charging interest . I am not aware of them making ethical claims in general so from that aspect I have no issue

 

 

 

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Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
14th May 2013 10:42

I agree

Ethics, in it's purest sense, is an all or nothing thing but (thank whatever god you worhip) we are human and so you are being silly expecting perfection 100% of the time, which is, again, a reason to question the need for such hot air.

I am one of your tree huggers and do all I can to act responsibly on a day to day basis but doesn't stop me treating myself to a week in the Ionian.

The reality - you have a need for banking services and there's a small group of providers with a track record of practicing what they believe over an ethical approach to the use of money and there's a huge group that say nothing and regularly practice unethically.  I choose the former you, presumably, don't?

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By JC
14th May 2013 11:24

Have we have come a full circle ...

@Paul Scholes

Original OP posting - '.. Simple, you pick and choose your ethics ..'

Reference recent post - '.. Ethics, in it's purest sense, is an all or nothing thing but (thank whatever god you worhip) we are human and so you are being silly expecting perfection 100% of the time ..'

Seem to recall fairly forthright comments on the concept of ethics followed up by an un-necessary swipe '.. did they turn you down for a loan or something? ..'

When ultimately it would seem to be all about expediency of ethics and the extent to which individuals are prepared to be inconvenienced or not! This stance seems to allow one to pick and choose ethics depending upon the circumstances - and presumably banks do precisely the same

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By Norman Younger
14th May 2013 11:39

Treats and ethics

I do not ask for 100% perfection . Of course mistakes are made and we can forgive. That is NOT what has taken place here.

People can chop and change their ethical stance and reset their moral compass but only for themselves , NOT if they are custodians of other people's money

Personally I have no issue with where I bank for retial purposes . In terms of making investments I do have lines and I invest accordingly . However , if I was lied to about the financial position of the bank with my money that's another matter.

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