Triodos is one of the world's leading sustainable
banks, making money work for positive social,
environmental, and cultural change.
I'm a chartered accountant, with more than 20
years' experience in financial services, from multinationals down
to a UK building society. I'd been praying for months, feeling I
should look for work where I felt no conflict with my faith rather
than looking for the highest salary.
At Triodos Bank, I do financial reporting and
control, management reporting, budgets and forecasts, tax,
and treasury management. I'm also part of the UK senior-management
team, and oversee the various types of risk-management and
reporting for the UK. We've about 110 co-workers in the UK, and a
small finance team; so I jump from strategic issues down into the
detail and back again.
The biggest difference is that, in every
decision, we have dual objectives of being a well-run commercial
bank and making money work for positive change. When we lend, we
don't just look at credit-worthiness, but also at what the money is
going to be used for.
We're transparent about where the money goes,
and publish the full list on our website; we're open to scrutiny on
all those decisions.
In one day, I could move from deciding how to
record a small transaction in our accounts, to making investment
decisions on millions of pounds, to debating whether lending to a
particular customer for a particular purpose is consistent with our
mission, up to strategic planning for the next five
I'm really proud of what Triodos Bank does, and
find our customers inspiring: well-known names like Café Direct and
Ecotricity, alongside community ventures and charities - all driven
by a desire to make the world a better place.
I'm annoyed by what some bankers have done
over the past 30 or 40 years to what should be a socially
useful system. Banks should just be putting people who
need money in touch with people who have money to invest, and
pooling the risks for sensible wealth-creation in the real economy.
It shouldn't be about financial speculation: that's a different
game. You don't have to do that to be a profitable bank.
Sustainable banks like Triodos lend an
average of 76 per cent of their balance sheets to the real
economy, but the big banks only lend about 40 per cent; so
the difference mostly goes into the speculative economy. That's the
bit we don't do.
The commercial world in general works with different
values, and if you don't believe that money is the only
arbiter, you may find yourself at odds with people. At Triodos,
people challenge me rather than the other way round. We're rooted
in the balance between financial, environmental, and social goals,
and it would be a difficult place to work, especially at senior
level, if you didn't share that desire.
I'm as bad as anyone, but we consume
three-planets'-worth of resources in the UK currently, and the
United States uses seven-planets'-worth. To change that needs a
sacrifice, it's true, but, living as we do, we're sacrificing our
children and grandchildren's resources, and other people around the
world - and they have no choice.
How do you incentivise people to find better ways of
living? We throw away seven million tons of food in a year
in this country; so it's not so much about sacrificing living
standards as a sacrifice of effort.
What's surprised me most is the role of the heart in
Triodos Bank. We talk about "the head, the heart, and the
hands". It's about understanding your intentions. I feel freer to
be open about my religion, because the culture is one wherethe
spiritual dimension is recognised and valued. It's the only place
I've worked where "love" has been mentioned in a management
I haven't been to Greenbelt before, but a
faith-based arts festival with lots of good music ticks all the
boxes. And Sinéad O'Connor is an added bonus.
I'm speaking there about why transparency in banking is
so important. If we are conscious of how our money's being
used, we'll take back our power, and use it as a power for good.
Fair trade got people to think about the power of their purchasing
decisions over the past 25 years. We need the same to happen with
savings and investments.
We get caught up in the hostility to bankers.
I'm ready for that. We come across it quite often. OK, I'm a
banker: what are you going to jail me for? I don't want to defend
the banking industry as it stands. We're trying to demonstrate that
banking can be profitable and benefit people, and there's evidence
to back thatup.
Christians aren't any better - or worse - informed than
the rest of the population. They're as hampered as anyone
else by the complexity wrapped around financial services products,
not all of it necessary, which hides the basic social interaction
between lender and borrower, or investor and company.
But the Bible talks about justice, about
stewardship, and about putting one's resources to good use; so
Christians might be more vocal in asking questions about how money
is actually used, and by whom.
I like spending time with my family: Clare,
Kate, and Bethan. Meals together, and clearing up afterwards, are
special. I also love sailing, and playing the guitar and singing. I
lead family worship at church - more New Wine than Westminster
I don't remember a first experience of God.
Usually, I find I've prayed, then stuff happened, and I've thought:
"That all turned out all right, then." Then I discover that there
were too many "coincidences", and realise that God was in charge
all along. It happened when we found a church when we lived in
Chepstow, or when we moved to North Wiltshire, or with my move to
Triodos. Recently, I woke up in the night and sensed that I should
pray for a friend in Uganda, and discovered afterwards that she had
been really ill that night, and needed prayer.
I was brought up in Surrey, in a stable
Christian family. I've two sisters, both married; two nieces;25
first cousins dotted aroundthe globe; and numerous distant cousins
in the US, which is probably why I take quite a global view, and
dislike nationalism. I'm married to Clare, who's an accountant, and
have two daughters: Kate's at university, and Bethan is halfway
through sixth form.
I love places where people are friendly, food
is interesting, and where I can see the beauty and awesomeness of
nature. I'd love to go back to Brazil. I always feel a sense of
release if I stand on a Cornish beach or cliff top, or ontop of any
of the UK's moun-tains.
I'd like to find more time to think: I've come
to realise in the past year how important that is. I'd like to
persuade people that love is contagious; and that its enemy is
My grandparents and parents for the values they
instilled and exemplified, especially the sense of duty
and justice. And my wife, Clare, a constant source of loving
challenge, with whom I've made all the big decisions.
Must Success Cost So Much? by Paul
Evans and Fernando Bartolomé made me realise that society tends to
recognise and value success in professional careers; but,
typically, we all have other careers as well: as a spouse, as a
parent, as a friend. Society's bad at recognising success in other
careers; so they don't get the priority they deserve. We have
A Walk Across the Sun by Corban
Addison woke me up to the injustice and horror of human
I find most of my prayers end up being for
guidance: "Please show me what you want me to do." I think
we're often the answer to our own prayers: we just don't know what
to do, or we lack thestrength or confidence to do it on our
My first choice of a companion in a locked church would
be Clare, but, if she was too busy gardening, I'd settle
for Justin Welby. I'd welcome a few hours honing ideas about
conscious use of money, and how financial services could be more of
a force for good. I'd also like to know what he thinks of
Kit Beazley was talking to Terence Handley MacMath.