The reason I stay with (the Co-operative Bank), despite the recent revelations, is because the Save Our Bank campaign has told me to wait and see – and I see the logic in that – and also because of their excellent, friendly and effective call centre, which is no small thing.
I promised I would leave the Co-op if the hedge fund deal went through, so I will still leave if they renege on any ethical positions – or if they dump the call centre. The hedge funds need to be kept up to the mark.
What is fascinating about the revelations about their chairman, the Rev. Mr. Paul Flowers, is not how unusual it is but how much it brings the failures at the Co-op into line with the other big banks.
The big banks also had key appointments without enough banking experience (HBOS). They also succumbed to disastrous mergers with rapidly disintegrating loan books (RBS).
It just goes to show, as the Guardian said last week, that the Co-op is not in trouble because it is a mutual, but because it is a bank
The Guardian also lists some of the facts about the rise of the mutual sector:
- One new co-operative formed every working day of the week.
- Over six thousand co-operatives in all.
- In banking, one million people are now members of credit unions, which are financial co-operatives
- Two thirds of farmers in Scotland are now part of agricultural co-operatives, creating a commercially very highly successful sector.
In short, it is big banks that are in crisis, not the growing mutual sector that is able to achieve things that conventional business can’t.