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Five things to know about the Co-op Bank

The Co-op has agreed to buy 632 Lloyds branches, making it a real contender on the high street. We take a look at how the bank works.


by Victoria Bischoff on Jul 20, 2012 at 12:12

Five things to know about the Co-op Bank

Co-operative Bank is set to become a major player on the high street after agreeing to buy 632 of Lloyds' branches.

Here we take a look at how exactly the Co-operative Bank works and what sets it apart from the rest of the big banking names.

1. The Co-operative Bank

The Co-operative Bank is by no means a newcomer – it’s been in the financial services sector for 140 years. In 2009 it merged with Britannia Building Society, having previously launched the UK’s first ever full internet bank ‘Smile’ in 1999. Together the three brands exist under the umbrella ‘The Co-operative Banking Group’.  

However, until yesterday Co-op Bank had just 342 bank branches. Once the Lloyds deal has been completed it will have over 1,000 branches on the high street, 11 million customers – including almost 7% of the current account market – and a presence in places it previously didn’t, such as Scotland for example. It is also acquiring the brands TSB and Cheltenham and Gloucester (C&G).

This will make Co-op a real contender to the big five banking names which currently dominate the high street – Barclays, Lloyds, RBS, HSBC and Santander.

2. Co-operative the mutual

Co-op Bank is part of the Co-operative Group – the largest co-operative in the UK with over five million members – and is the UK’s only mutually owned bank.  

As a mutually owned bank it does not have any shareholders and is instead owned by its members who get a cut of the profits and have a say in how the business is run.  

Anyone can be a member. All you need to do is invest £1, which the Co-operative will take from your first share of its profits. Your share of the profits depends on how many points you earn by using Co-op’s banking products and shopping at Co-op's 4,800 stores. Your points are calculated twice a year in June and November and you can then choose if you want the money in cash or vouchers – as a member you’re also entitled to exclusive offers. The remaining profit is reinvested in the business.

Those interested in getting involved in how the business is managed can also run for election as a member representative for their area and, after two years, to their regional board. Co-op claims it is guided by its co-operative values and principles – 'honesty, openness, social responsibility and concern for others'.

3. The ethical bank

Co-op Bank is the only high street bank to have a strict customer mandated ethical policy which sets out who the company will and won’t do business with.

The bank will not, for example, deal with companies which manufacture or sell ‘indiscriminate’ weapons such as cluster bombs, fail to uphold basic human rights or have poor records on labour rights by employing children or opposing trade unions.

Co-op Bank will also not deal with businesses that are involved in animal testing of household and cosmetic products or develop high climate change emission fuel like tarsands. Co-op said it instead seeks to support companies involved in recycling, renewable energy and creating sustainable natural products.

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35 comments so far. Why not have your say?


Jul 20, 2012 at 14:16

Hmm. Maybe. But I'm sure I won't be the first to notice that as a 'mutual', the Co-op's governance is more than a little opaque, apparently run by an unaccountable series of obscure committees, somewhat involved in politics and spreading itself across multiple businesses from banking to funeral parlours and grocery stores. It may trumpet its honesty and ethics, but as a 'member' all you seem to get is a card to collect points and rather measly payouts in 'dividends' . Its interest rates are usually rubbish as well.

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Judge not lest ye be judged

Jul 20, 2012 at 15:07

The interest rates are lower with Co-Op because of the way they invest their money. If another bank invest in arms to Africa then the rewards would be higher so they would offer better returns to investors. What the Co Op does offer is people another choice of bank that doesn't suffer from paying top directors massive bonuses and being corrupt from the core.

What other bank rewards you for banking with them and gives you the opportunity to earn money back when you take out insurances or buy your weekly shopping . . . . . . . . none.

I don't work for them, however I do bank with them. I moved from Santander when they changed their fees and charges. I became a member the same day and after getting my first dividends I was pleasantly surprised and able to pay it directly into my bank account to use where I wish.

If any bank gave high interest rates to savers but low interest rates when borrowing (which is what we all would like!) then it would soon go the route of Northern Rock and it's ilk.

Vote with your feet as that's the only true way to be noticed.

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Jul 20, 2012 at 15:54

I would like to know if I am being 'sold'. It means, if I am one of those, that my personal particulars are being provided to another that I did not choose in the first instance. Perhaps all thanks to faceless 'ignorati' in Bruxelles. They ought to be paying me for time I will have to spend to undo the result of their diktat. I have made it a requirement that anyone selling my name should pay me, £1,000. Why shouldn't I profit from having my details sold on by others?

Why else would they have brought in the Data Protection legislation?

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medved bear

Jul 20, 2012 at 16:55


After seeing the RBS/BOS elite level investment wide boys steal the investors savings and run off to the gambling houses and lose the lot then laugh all the way to the Bermuda golf courses with their taxpayer funded "rewards" I don't see how anyone can hum and har about a mutual bank.

If you have questions about how it is run ask them. Im sure it no more opaque than BUPA which is likely to be how you pay for your medical care. Incidentally, I have met nobody yet who can tell me who owns BUPA. Care to have a go ?

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gilbert long

Jul 20, 2012 at 17:35

I am sure that many Field Sport supporters are aware that the Co-op is very biased and will not allow "blood" sport associations to maintain accounts.

Never did like Puritans !

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ruth karp

Jul 20, 2012 at 17:47

will the new bank alias Co op deal with customers who have

business dealings with Israel?

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Jul 20, 2012 at 18:41

Hi Medved bear,

I don't as it happens pay for my medical care through BUPA but as far as I can see, BUPA is not a 'mutual' but is a private company limited by guarantee, with no share capital and no shareholders. It was formed by the amalgamation of over 30 provident institutions - bodies that provided healthcare before the NHS was formed. It publishes detailed financial information including annual reports and accounts and describes its governance publicly in considerable detail. I'm not particularly interested in BUPA for any reason but I don't think it could be called opaque, or in any way political. I'm not sure the same can be said of the Co-op.

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Tim Drewitt

Jul 20, 2012 at 22:38

I took out a credit card A/C with the co-op because a certain % of every transaction I make goes to Amnesty International (a charity that I support by a monthly donation as well). The Amnesty International logo of the candle and the barbed wire is printed on the face of the card and I explain what Amnesty is, and how important it is in our world, to people when they ask me what it is as they put the card in a card reader. I chucked my Barclays visas in the bin when I changed to the co-op and have been proven right as to the corruption within that Bank now comes to light. I have never heard such an hypocritical talk as that given by Bob the Banker (Diamond - where did he get that name?) on Radio 4 earlier this year. But that's old hat now.

The co-op was started by people who shared a common goal to help the poor and the working class who did not have access to credit and to form a co-operative for their benefit - however low the dividend may have been . I remember my mother sticking the green stamps she got with every purchase into her book to be able to get a credit against her next purchase. Was it not one of the first organisations where you could start savings for Xmas and holidays? Lets hope that their administration is not taken over by the likes of "Bob the Banker" - the co-op deserves the support of right minded people. Remember that the market has no morals, so one has to start somewhere.

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Alan Tonks

Jul 20, 2012 at 22:47

Judge not lest ye be judged, well if you think that the Co-op Bank is whiter than white you must be from another planet.

When banks make comments like this: “Co-op said it instead seeks to support companies involved in recycling, renewable energy and creating sustainable natural products.”

You instantly know that they are appealing to the brainwashed masses, you also know that the Co-op bank is no more eco friendly than any other bank.

What it really boils down to is hypocrisy, they don’t believe in it; neither do other companies, but today it makes business sense to say that you do.

It also has a mandated ethical policy, yes it really does make you believe, if you are simple minded.

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Anonymous 1 needed this 'off the record'

Jul 20, 2012 at 23:47

Alan Tonks. I pity you. You are so determined to believe that the world is irredeemably screwed that you are choking on your own cynicism. I suspect it doesn't keep you all that warm at night. I for one am happy to be transferring my money from one of the 'big four' to a bank that at least has historically tried to present an alternative responsibility-free capitalism. It it slips from time to time and fails to match up to some kind of ethical perfection. So F**KING what! If it's the least bad of a festering pile of crap then it's the place to be. I'm astounded that anyone that watches the news on a daily basis can even bring themselves to defend the actions of our so called 'big four'.

Sadly I'm an atheist, as I would dearly like to believe in a hell that puts you in a room for all eternity with some of the victims of weapons, pollution and economic warfare that some of us 'simple-minded' people are trying to protect.

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Alan Tonks

Jul 21, 2012 at 01:42

Anonymous 1 needed this 'off the record'-I can well understand that, someone like you who being faceless would be a member of an “ethical bank.”

I don’t think the world is irredeemably screwed as you put it, but neither do I believe in the propaganda that is put out by so-called ethical companies.

As for cynicism, I certainly have contempt for so-called eco friendly and ethical companies, because you can guarantee they are not.

I would expect you are happy to go with an “ethical bank” Mr. Anonymous, it obviously suits your personality and probably your foul language as well.

There you go again making assumptions, I wouldn’t defend any of the banks and they indeed have a lot to answer for.

Having said that the Co-op bank is no better, it is only ethical in their eyes and anybody else simple enough to believe their rhetoric.

Why sad that you are an atheist, so you don’t believe in a god, but you do believe in an ethical world and that is great.

But your last bit is the best and now I am going to assume, that you are a silly atheist eco warrior.

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alan franklin

Jul 21, 2012 at 07:23

The Co-Op has a very one-sided, skewed view of what is "ethical," the sort of claptrap that the Guardian would approve of, including a boycot of Israeli goods, which in fact mostly hurts Arabs on the West Bank.

We certainly do need new banks, but the Co-op is widely supported by extreme left wingers and the politically correct, who are very fair and impartial until you disagree with their pet policies, when they turn very nasty indeed. I speak from experience.

I do like the idea of mutuals or Savings and Loans as in America, but the Co-Op is as bad in its way as the big banks are in theirs.

I always supported Nationwide until it started bankroling "gay pride," something it should not be using its members' money on - some of us have very different views and if we wanted to support a party, movement or pressure group we should be able to choose to do so as individuals.

No, it is true that we need new banks, but smelly old socialist instiutitions are exactly what is NOT required.

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Jul 21, 2012 at 08:24

OK, guys, so what's the alternative for a current account with all the online bells and whistles you need nowadays?

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Jul 21, 2012 at 11:14

Just a question. If the bank is a mutual, does that mean that the members are liable for the losses should it go bust? I have the Equitable in mind.

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Alan Tonks

Jul 21, 2012 at 12:17

Short answer to your question Tortoise, NO.

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Jul 21, 2012 at 23:52


First Direct Bank (online or telephone ) was and probably still is the most recommended bank.

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Morpheus via mobile

Jul 22, 2012 at 07:52

We switched one of our accounts to the co-op in 2009 by way of a protest to RBS.

I have nothing but good things to say about the co-op bank. Whole experience has been positive. They may not have branches in every town (including ours) but that rarely affects us now, what with Internet & phone banking (and postal services aplenty at co-op).

If you are one of the Lloyds customers affected, my advice is give them a go. You should be pleased with the outcome.

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Patrick Judson

Jul 22, 2012 at 08:12

What a change to hear something positive Morpheus.

To many people make comments without having sufficient information on the organisations.

I worked for the bank for 40 years and have continued to bank there making some 55 in total.

Excellent organisation to work for and providing banking standards and service of a very high quality,having to work harder than the bigger banks to obtain and retain customers due to many of the comments seen on here.

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andrew sutherland

Jul 22, 2012 at 08:51


You can put yourself forward for nomination of one of the many boards. It's quite simple and not faceless.

Whilst the CO-OP as a bank is a good idea, they are financial beneficiaries to the Labour party, so it doesn't matter how much of a good will bank etc they are, I can't invest my money somewhere that supports a political party that sold us down the river to Europe and let immigration go wild when they were in power.

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Daye Tucker

Jul 22, 2012 at 09:42

Good to see competition to the big four horrors. Other banks worth investigating are Triodos and Handelsbanken.

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Jed Thorpe

Jul 22, 2012 at 09:53

I have had a credit card account with the Co-Op since 2004 and this actually creates a cash credit to the Liberal Democrats based on the total cash amount I clock up each month.

I have had a current and savings bank account with them for nearly two years and find their service perfectly OK.

I am very happy with their stance on dealing with environmentally friendly or caring customers.

Having banked with Lloyds TSB for 37 I have given up with disgust at the way they are trading and manipulate their interest rates and bank charges.

Gordon Brown should never have jumped in to save two Scottish Banks and Lloys TSB at the expense of the UK tax payer. But, there you go . He is a Scotsman and what can you expect.??


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Jul 22, 2012 at 10:45

I am an ordinary person living in London, sort of 'the man on the Clapham omnibus.

I don't have sophisticated banking requirements, a current account and a debit card are just fine for me.

Whilst having little more than a passing interest in politics or banking issues, nevertheless it crossed my mind that most of the big banks might possibly be technically bankrupt.

Accordingly I opened an account with the Metro Bank and as a consequence it is possible to utilise my mind in more constructive ways than being concerned as to whether or not it is wrong to bank with an outfit that gives donations to Gay Pride and the Labour Party and all the rest of the rubbish that so many get wound-up about.

Here we all are living in a country that in financial terms has been brought to its knees and all we can do is bicker.

Come on guys, get a life, use your brains, get working again, get the place humming again.

With economic success we can once again become the best place in the world in which to live.

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Michael Brooks

Jul 22, 2012 at 11:24

Some of you guys are so predictable I could post for you. Any bank that isn`t run by fat sleazebags too busy squirreling away their cash to bother with ordinary people, whether its small businesses allowed to go bust for want of a bank loan, or screwing ordinary customers with exorbitant charges, is beyond the pale. I`m only waiting for my Barclays shares to rise far enough to enable me to get the feck out.

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Daye Tucker

Jul 22, 2012 at 11:44

Well put Stormdog.

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Ian Lees

Jul 23, 2012 at 09:10

As a member of the Federation of Small businesses - I purchased their option to use Co Operative bank - found them unhelpful and incompetent ( in that the lost my cheque from the Inland Revenue ). The un co operative bank failed to address the situation and their chief exective refuses to reply or repsond or provide any helpul solutions. The switch from co ope stamps to co operative bank - is not a course I would recomend anyone to follow. I too have signed up to Metro Bank - found them helpful, accommodating - and quite frankly offering a service way above average - local managers - and employees who know what they are talking about. Metro bank employees are trained and are most helpful.

I had a client who asked to transfer his ISA from HBoS and they refuse to allow it - is anyone else experiencing the same problmes of HBoS restricting clients access to their own funds ?

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Fund of Funds

Jul 23, 2012 at 11:33

Just taken out a 3 year bond at 4% with Coop which is about the best around for that period. Also a supporter of another mutual Nationwide and just taken out a 2 year members bond with them at 3.8% which is a very good rate for the period. I think the Co-op is going to be a major competitor for the banking sector in UK.

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David West

Jul 23, 2012 at 17:50

Pity the Co-op has not been so ethical over the way it has treated milk farmers!

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Ian Lees

Jul 24, 2012 at 08:26

So the co op weremilking this part of therir operations - no wonder the employees at Co Op could not manage the administration of accepting a cheque. Like Halifax Bonk of Scotland - they too aaare operating restrictive practices and refusing to allow clinent s to move to other companies ( Lynne Neil Leeds - and her bosses) are responsible.

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Ian Lees

Jul 24, 2012 at 08:44

To the depositeor who deposits in the co op and the Nationwide is not the headline rate where you should be aware of - but getting access - or the return of your depposits form Nationwide or the co op. Try the post office !

Nationwide refuse to allow simple return of depositors funds - when the ccackling Crone of Perth branch ( and Nationwide purchased the Dunfemline B soc s- once Scotlands largest b soc ) who refused to give me £ 5000 of a deposit account holding £ 6,000. Graeme Beals the ceo of Nationwide refuses to say sorry and protects his crminal activities of the Nationwide . Naionwide is too big to fail and can break the Law as aa result ! Perth Police refuse to deal with the matter. FOS and FSA both refuse to deal with the fraud - and David Cmeron replied in his letter - that he is neither interested nor will he get involved. hese are the commercial rip offs of the Nationwide - against consumers. Nationwide directors are made up of mainly insurance company directors according to their accounts. The chairman Mr Howe refuses to reply or respond - is negligent and not fit and proper as a chairman.

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Jul 24, 2012 at 09:14

Ian Lees,

So did you take your case to the small claims court?

Did you go to your local Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB)?

How about joining Which? for a quid?

Have you been to a newspaper with a consumer advice section?

Have you tried Watchdog?

Are you a member of the Federation of Small Business?

My general suggestion to you, Sir, is that you fight for what is yours in life but do it in a methodical and sensible manner, not like a Catherine Wheel randomly spitting off sparks and soon burning out.

Was it not the famous Russian Marshall Zhukov who famously pointed out that the majority of a battle lies in the preparation?

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Michael Brooks

Jul 24, 2012 at 13:14

EVERY supermarket chain has been ripping off milk producers. At least the Co-op and Morrisons have done something about it.

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Jul 24, 2012 at 19:54

You are mistaking left wing throw back to the 60s for ethical.

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Peter Trethewey

Jul 25, 2012 at 13:48

I have just tranfered from Barclays to the Co-op. All very efficient. But, I am dissapointed that this 'Ethical Bank' is now using customers to raise revenue with non geographic telephone numbers!

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Ian Lees

Jul 29, 2012 at 20:50

Stromdog, it was a bank account arranged between the FSB and the cunning co -op. I worte to the ceo and the head of the FSB. Neither of whom wished to get involved or in the case of the FSB wanted to assist usually through Tina Riddiford. I am a memnbe rof which and I wrote to the editor. Icould have gone to the small claims court or I could have gone to CAB - but chise to terminate my business and personal accounts - to the Metro Bank and Nationwide . My time can be spent more efficiently in other ways. Since then I cancelled my Nationwide account in favour of Metro Bank. It is dissapointing that the cowards in the Co op refuse to reply or respond - or to treat customers fairly - and no amount of green stamps would encourage me to use the corrupt co operative bank. It appears the gov't share the same reservations against the Co Op with TSB selling them theri branches and clients.

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James B. Johnson

Aug 12, 2012 at 13:55

The Co-op Bank has the highest customer satisfaction rating of any bank. Source: Which Magazine.

It is also part of the left wing Labour Movement . So f*****g what?

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