Bank makes strong progress on ‘double bottom line’ goals

Margaret Willis, chief executive of Unity Trust Bank

Unity Trust Bank, which positions itself as the commercial bank for firms with a social benefit, has strengthened profits and increased its new lending.

The Birmingham-based bank lent nearly £100m in 2017 to firms and projects that will deliver community, economic or environmental benefits.

Pre-tax profits were up 36% to £3.68m, which the bank said “reflects the growth of lending and the increased volume of fee-based services”.

It said: “The low interest rate environment continued to suppress Unity’s margins on both customer liabilities and loan assets as well as returns on treasury assets. The November 2017 base rate rise, and any future increases, are likely to have a materially positive impact on Unity’s interest income.”

Unity has what it describes as a “double bottom line” goal of sustainable returns with positive social impact.

Margaret Willis, chief executive of Unity Trust Bank said: “Since becoming independent in December 2015, Unity has pursued its goal to lend responsibly to firms and organisations that share our mission to benefit society.

“At Unity, this progress means more than just profit; the better we perform, the greater societal benefit we can have. It’s very pleasing to see the appeal of ‘banking with values’.”

Since the year end, the Birmingham-based bank has attracted more than £11m of new investment from existing shareholders and a new investor, the Sustainability, Finance, Real Economies (SFRE) fund.

The investment funded the buy-back of The Co-operative Bank‘s remaining shares meaning it is no longer a shareholder in Unity.

Unity’s chairman Alan Hughes added: “We are ambitious and energised by the encouragement of our existing shareholders – Big Society Capital and the Trade Union movement, who have participated in this capital raise and delighted to welcome SFRE as a new investor who shares so closely Unity’s vision and ‘double bottom-line’ philosophy.

“We’re confident Margaret and her team can continue Unity’s growth, tapping into the strong desire for a bank with integrity and a social conscience.”