Traditionally, banks have focused primarily on risk and return, to avoid negative outcomes and to enable investors to understand the performance of the institution. But when an institution sees its main goal as maximising returns to shareholders, risk and return are often viewed in a short-term context. This neglects the company’s wider relationship with – and effect on – society and the environment. Triodos Bank uses three parameters – impact, risk and return – to understand its overall development and place in the world. This promotes a long-term perspective. The focus on delivering sustainable social, environmental and cultural impact as well as risk and return implies a positive, holistic outlook and a horizon that is inherently longer term.
We want to deliver sustainable impact. When we talk about ‘impact’, we are concerned with what our actions, in particular financing and investing, mean to people in concrete terms. Impact means delivering positive outcomes, not only at a transactional level but also at a social and ecological system level.
Because our starting point is to deliver greater impact over the long term, it is essential that we are financially resilient. We therefore focus on maintaining a consistently high-quality loan portfolio. Triodos Bank’s modest risk appetite is an important building block for this resilience.
We have been able to deliver stable, fair returns over a sustained period. For us, financial performance is important because being a resilient financial institution is essential for the delivery of lasting, sustainable change.