Balance also extends to the Triodos Bank business model itself. This report shows how we have grown again in 2012 but at what we consider to be a healthy level. Growing a loan book at 16% means a lot of dedication, hard work and additional impact; growing much more than this could present risks that we do not want.
For Triodos Bank, growth is not an end in itself. Yet, growth is important, and central to our business strategy, because it means we are lending more to sustainable entrepreneurs and increasing our impact in the sectors where we’re active. It shows that what we do is meeting real social needs, and reflects the fact that more and more people are, literally, buying in to the concept of using money more consciously, from savers to investors. It proves that a different way of banking is both possible and attractive to large numbers of people.
Balance sheet growth of 23% during the year is part of steady and appropriate growth for our business model. We are also extending our reach around Europe. We do not target new countries and new branches for their own sake. Instead, we respond to requests from like-minded people who want to bring Triodos Bank’s approach to their market. This has happened in France, with our new representative office, for example. We plan to build on an existing portfolio of lending in France, with a view to opening a branch in the future.
Our mission and the strategy that underpins it also dictate that we strike the right balance between savings and loans. While there are differences between countries, in general Triodos Bank attracts more and more savings, and we are challenged to find sufficient opportunities to lend it responsibly, fast enough to keep pace. As a result we are exploring ways to use this money sustainably in addition to business lending, such as through sustainable private mortgages, that meet customer demand for this kind of sustainable finance.
At the same time we want to deepen our relationships with customers through other products such as Triodos Bank depository receipts, and other investments via Triodos Investment Funds, such as the Triodos Sustainable Pioneer Fund, a fund that focuses on innovative sustainable companies.
We also see gift money playing a vital role as an incubator for new and innovative ideas and initiatives. In this sense, gift money – delivered by Triodos Bank through Foundations in each of its branches – can remove the need for debt in the right circumstances.