Aussie bank among world’s ‘most ethical’

by Madison Utley27 Feb 2019

A sole Australian company has been recognised as one of the world’s “most ethical companies”, by global ethics body Ethisphere Institute.

Teachers Mutual Bank Limited was one of just five banks to receive the accolade and the only Australian company on this year’s list.

The financial institution has served Australian educators for more than 50 years and has grown into one of Australia’s largest mutual banks. It boasts in excess of 200,000 members and charts more than $7.5bn in assets.

“Our operations are carbon neutral, our investments are fossil fuel free, and we don’t have conflicts between shareholder and customer interests. Our members can have confidence that that’s not going to change,” said the bank’s CEO, Steve James.

The citation from Ethisphere Institute covers three of the bank’s four brands: Teachers Mutual Bank, UniBank, and Firefighters Mutual Bank.

The member-owned model employed by mutual banks ensures that the best interests of customers are placed above profit, an assurance that has become all the more sought after in light of the royal commission. 

The latest Roy Morgan Net Trust Score Survey, conducted days after the release of Hayne’s report, revealed a growing suspicion of the big four banks. Trust in the National Australia Bank (NAB) plummeted the most with a net trust score of -42.2%. The other three banks settled in the minus twenties.

James said, “The royal commission has shown what happens when you lose sight of the customers’ interests, but for 52 years we’ve been focused solely on them. That’s a big reason we’re recognised as one of the world’s most ethical companies.”

The bank is the largest in Australia to certify deposits and mortgages as socially responsible, in accordance with Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) guidelines.

RIAA certification means that the lending provided by the bank is responsibly sourced, with 80% of the funds coming from other members of the bank. Additionally, members’ deposits are screened from ‘harmful activities,’ such as gambling or tobacco interests.