top of page
  • Writer's pictureSimona Rutkauskaite

Your Money, Your Values: Choose an Ethical Savings Account

Are you concerned about where your money goes? Do you want to ensure that your savings are being used to support businesses and practices that align with your values?


If so, it's time to switch to an ethical savings account. In this article, we'll explore what ethical banking is, which banks are ethical in the UK, and how to choose the best ethical savings account for your needs.


What is Ethical Banking?

Ethical banking is a type of banking that focuses on sustainable and responsible practices. Ethical banks invest in businesses and organisations that are socially and environmentally responsible. They also have a commitment to transparency, fair trade, and ethical lending practices. By choosing an ethical bank, you can ensure that your savings are being used to support positive social and environmental impact.


Which Banks are Ethical in the UK?

There are several banks in the UK that prioritise ethical banking practices. These banks have a commitment to social and environmental responsibility and invest in organisations that align with their values. Here are five of the most ethical banks in the UK:


1. Triodos Bank

Triodos Bank is a leading ethical bank in the UK. They have a commitment to sustainable and ethical practices and have been named the most ethical bank in the UK multiple times and most recently were titled the Best Ethical Financial Provider at the British Bank Awards 2023. Triodos focuses on investing in organisations and projects that align with its values and mission. The bank prioritises sectors such as renewable energy, organic and sustainable food and agriculture, social housing, arts and culture, and fair trade.


As one of the world’s most sustainable banks, Triodos have over 740,000 customers who are already playing their part in our positive movement. They have the lowest CO2 emissions per £1,000 in a current account and offer a range of savings accounts and investments to suit your needs.


2. The Co-operative Bank

The Co-operative Bank, also recognised as the UK’s original ethical bank, was the first UK bank to introduce a customer-led Ethical Policy. Their Ethical Policy is centred around three pillars - the planet, people and the community. Most recently they were awarded as the Best Charity Banking Provider 2022 by Moneyfacts.


The Co-operative Bank also has a range of products including current and savings accounts, credit cards, mortgages, personal loans and insurance products that prioritise transparency and fair trade.


3. Nationwide Building Society

The Nationwide Building Society is a mutual building society, which means it is owned by its members rather than shareholders. This structure allows the bank to prioritise the interests of its members and operate in their best interests, rather than focusing solely on maximising profits for external shareholders. The bank operates the Nationwide Community Grants program, which provides funding to local charities and community projects across the UK and donates at least 1% of pre-tax profits to charitable causes.


Similar to the Co-operative bank, Nationwide has a range of current and savings accounts as well as other products such as credit cards, loans and mortgages.


Unsure what the difference is between a bank and Building Society? See below.


4. Ecology Building Society

The Ecology Building Society is another ethical bank that focuses on sustainable practices. They have a specific focus on environmental sustainability. It aims to support and finance projects that have a positive impact on the environment, such as renewable energy, eco-friendly construction, and sustainable agriculture. The society actively promotes ecological principles and practices in its lending decisions.


They specialise in providing mortgages for eco-friendly homes and investments in renewable energy projects. They’re rated as an ethical Best Buy for their mortgages and savings.


5. Charity Bank

Charity Bank is a unique ethical bank that focuses on supporting charities and social enterprises. They’re entirely owned by charitable foundations, trusts and social purpose organisations and specialise in providing loans and investments to organisations that are making a positive impact in their communities.


What’s the difference between Banks and Building Societies

Banks and building societies are both types of financial institutions that offer various services, like savings accounts and loans. However, there are some important differences between them:

Banks

Building Societies

Ownership

Owned by shareholders who invest money in the bank

Owned by their customers who use their services

Purpose

​Offer a wide range of services to many different types of customers

Focus more on mortgages and savings accounts for their members

Sharing Profits

Distribute profits to their shareholders

Share their profits with their members through better savings rates or special benefits

Growth

Have branches and ATMs in many places, even internationally

​Tend to have a more local presence, focusing on specific regions or communities

Regulation

​Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).

Regulated by the FCA, PRA as well as the Building Societies Association (BSA)

Remember, these differences may vary, but it's good to know the basics to make informed decisions about your financial needs.


How to Choose the Best Ethical Savings Account

When choosing an ethical savings account, there are several factors to consider. Here are some tips to help you choose the best ethical savings account for your needs:


1. Consider the bank's values and mission

Look for a bank that has a clear commitment to social and environmental responsibility. Choose a bank that invests in organisations that align with your values.


2. Check the bank's track record

Research the bank's history and track record. Look for a bank that has a proven commitment to transparency, fair trade, and ethical lending practices. Our bank league table is a good place to start. We’ve done the hard work for you so you can easily make the right choice for your savings.


3. Look for competitive interest rates

Just because you're choosing an ethical savings account doesn't mean you have to sacrifice returns. You can use any comparison site such as MoneySuperMarket to pick a bank that offers competitive interest rates on their savings accounts. Just make sure you change the filter to include all providers as they usually by default they only show you providers they have a partnership with.


4. Consider accessibility

Make sure the bank you choose has a branch or online banking services that are convenient for you. Consider whether you need ATM access, mobile banking, or other services.


5. Read the fine print

Before opening a savings account, make sure you understand the terms and conditions. There are plenty of AI tools, such as IntelliPPT, that can help summarise the fine print saving you time and effort. Look out for any fees, minimum balances, or other requirements that may affect your savings.


Choosing an ethical savings account allows you to align your money with your values and make a positive impact. Banks like Triodos, The Co-operative Bank, and Nationwide prioritise sustainability and transparency. Consider their values, track record, interest rates, accessibility, and terms before making a decision. Invest in your values and create a better future through ethical banking.


Disclaimer:

MotherTree Limited (13969046) does not provide financial advice. MotherTree will not be held responsible for any financial losses or customer service problems related to the choice of product or provider mentioned on this website. If you are unsure about whether a product is right for you, please contact a financial adviser. Unbiased.co.uk is a place to find regulated independent financial advisers based on your own criteria.


bottom of page