The Co-operative Bank
The Co-operative Bank is a major UK bank offering a full range of high street and online banking facilities. They are an independent bank with close links to the Co-operative Group Limited and the Co-operative Insurance Society.
Based in Manchester, and providing a United Kingdom wide service, they are also the parent company of the Smile internet-only bank. As of 2014, they were the UK’s seventh biggest lending institution, and the majority of their income comes from interest charged on their loans, although they also provide saving and lending products.
The Co-operative Bank is most famous for its adherence to ethical banking policies. They take pride in making decisions based upon different criteria to other banks, and this is one of the things that attracts many of their customers.
The bank itself was formed in 1862, as the loan and deposit division of the Co-operative Wholesale Society. It didn't become a clearing bank, able to offer its own cheques, until 1975.
The Co-operative’s ethical policy strictly forbids the provision of facilities to companies or individuals linked to the arms trade, activities associated with global warming, or smoking. Its members are encouraged to voice their opinions on the ethical policy, and on other banking matters. Their board often contains people with no direct banking experience, but efforts have been made recently to modernise the management structure.
Co-operative Bank customers have access to a wide range of lending options. These include loans of up to £25,000 that can be paid back over a period of up to 7 years. Existing customers of the Co-operative Bank, or their subsidiary the Britannia, can apply over the telephone.
Mortgages are also available from the Co-op, as are credit cards. Mortgages can be new mortgages, or customers can modify existing mortgages, or apply to transfer their mortgage that originated with another provider.