Ethical screening

It is our commitment not to provide banking services to businesses and organisations that conflict with our Ethical Policy.

Our Ethical Policy position not to provide banking services to businesses or organisations involved in the manufacture or transfer of indiscriminate weapons has resulted in us being recognised as the only UK-based bank in the Don’t Bank on the Bomb report Hall of Fame (March 2017) and the Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions report Hall of Fame (May 2017).

Examples of our ethical screening process

In 2017, we declined banking services due to:

Human rights & equality

In the first instance, banking facilities for a group that actively denied the rights of members of the transgender community. In the second, banking facilities for a charity directly linked to an organisation which was classified as a cult outside of the UK, and whose members had been denied basic human rights. The Bank is supportive of the freedom of thought and belief. But in both cases, the activities were considered to be in breach of our position on human rights, equality, and our diversity and inclusion policies.

Oppressive regimes

A personal customer whose links to the government of an oppressive regime and whose association with human rights violations were considered to be a continuing cause for concern. Although individual customers are normally considered out of scope in terms of Ethical Policy implementation, the extent of the links to the regime were considered significant enough to fall within the remit of the Policy.

Ecological impact – Fossil fuel extraction and production

Banking facilities for a business involved in the sale of mobile pump units, controllers and valves to a subsidiary of a Middle-Eastern oil company. This activity is considered integral to the oil and gas extraction process and therefore a breach of the Ethical Policy.

Animal welfare – Fur trade

An existing customer found to be involved in the online retail of luxury accessories, including the sale of mink scarves. This activity is considered in breach of our Ethical Policy position on the sale of clothing made from fur.

How does the bank screen customers?

We ask prospective business customers to confirm that they are compliant with our Ethical Policy by completing a questionnaire. After an initial review, potentially high-risk customers are referred to our Values and Ethics team for a more detailed assessment. Customers’ requests for additional facilities and services may also trigger a referral to the Values and Ethics team.

Our Values and Ethics team review all business customers involved in high-risk sectors, such as the manufacture of chemicals or waste management. In many cases we commission independent analysis from Vigeo Eiris, a leading ethical investment research organisation.

To protect our customers’ confidentiality, we do not name those whose applications we have declined.

Screening existing business banking customers

Our Central Screening Exercise is a riskbased review of our existing business customers to ensure they remain compliant with our Ethical Policy. Those considered to present the greatest potential risk of conflict with our Policy are required to complete an up-to-date self-certification form.

In 2017 there was a 24% reduction in the number of referrals. This is consistent with a similar reduction in the total number of business banking accounts opened in 2017 compared to 2016.

Learn more about ethical banking and our products