Next Steps for Save Our Bank
It’s now certain that the Co-operative Bank’s re-capitalisation plan will go ahead. This means private investors will soon own most of the bank. We know that the Co-operative Group will own 30% of the bank but we still don’t know exactly how the remaining 70% will break down between hedge funds and other private investors.
Taking your views directly to the Co-op
Until now we have been focusing on the Ethical Policy to stop it being watered down. This week we spoke directly to Euan Sutherland, the Chief Executive of the Co-operative Group. He told us that:
- The current Ethical Policy will remain in place until further notice.
- The bank will conduct a survey of customers in the first half of 2014 on where they want to Ethical Policy to go in future. A refreshed Ethical Policy will then be proposed around mid 2014.
You can see more on what he told us here.
The new Articles of Association have now been agreed. They don’t include everything we wanted (see our view here), but they offer some protection to the Ethical Policy. We will now focus on making sure the Ethical Policy is not weakened and is fully implemented.
We are now asking for Ethical Policy declines (the deals turned away by the bank because of ethics) to be reported publicly every quarter so that we can all keep close track of the new owners’ commitment to ethics. Otherwise we’d have to wait until 2015 to know.
Our priorities for the new year
As well as the Ethical Policy, there are three main areas that we will be working on:
None of our supporters are happy with hedge funds as owners of the bank, and most want a return to majority co-operative ownership (see our survey results). There are many ideas coming from supporters as to how this might happen. For example an investment fund allowing customers to buy shares in the bank collectively (a bit like a Supporters Trust). At Save Our Bank we are pretty sure that the hedge funds are not looking to be long-term owners, and we believe there will be real opportunities to influence what happens.
Potential for a mass switch
We need to be prepared for things not to go our way. We will be stronger if we know where we could all go if we need to make a 'mass switch'. This might mean negotiating with another mutual to strengthen their ethical policy, or a mass shift from mainstream banking to credit unions, building societies and community investment.
Organising the campaign
At the moment, the Save our Bank campaign is just one of a few campaigns being run by Ethical Consumer. We need to think about formalising the campaign and raising funds. There are various options for this that we will be looking at, and we’ll keep you updated on this.
Let us know what you think
We will be asking for advice and feedback from our thousands of signed-up members. As well as the priorities above, there are other actions we could take, such as organising events or collaborating with other campaigns in this area. Let us know what you think via our Open Forum.
We do not know what the future will hold. But we believe that if we stick together, then we have a real chance of keeping the Co-op Bank ethical and of moving it back to majority co-operative ownership. That's why we are still saying don't switch yet.
Help us spread the message
Please continue to spread the word to more Co-op Bank customers about the campaign.
If you're a social media user then please:
Tweet now, asking people to visit our site and sign up to the campaign:
#saveourbank campaign ensuring #CoopBank sticks to its ethical policies and aiming to return it to majority co-op ownership, sign up at http://saveourbank.coop
Contact your Facebook friends and ask them to sign up to the campaign:
SaveOurBank campaign is ensuring Co-op Bank sticks to its ethical policy - and working on plans to re-mutualise - sign up at http://saveourbank.coop