At 34, it’s time to take your independence, especially when you have lots of projects. This is the objective of La Nef, the citizen banking cooperative, which presents itself as the reference in terms of ethical finance. At the end of June, it filed an application for approval with the Prudential Control and Resolution Authority (ACPR), the sector’s policeman, which is attached to the Banque de France. She should, logically, get it at the beginning of next year.
Born in the associative world, the Nef had very quickly been obliged to rely, for regulatory reasons, on a traditional bank, in this case Crédit coopératif, itself a subsidiary of the BPCE group, which guarantees its solvency and its liquidity. “But we are getting too big to stay in a logic of backing and we need to have management autonomy. Otherwise, we will end up looking like Crédit coopératif and we will then no longer be of use. “Summarizes Bernard Horrenbeek, Chairman of the Nef Management Board.
Address a wider audience
Ethical banking is experiencing strong growth today: 30 million euros in loans granted five years ago, 200 million euros last year and close to 250 million this year, with more than 600 projects supported. At the end of 2021, La Nef had 80,000 customers, with nearly €1 billion in savings and 41,700 members.
“We are responding to a strong demand from society and we want to take a step forward, by targeting a wider audience while keeping our militant dimension”emphasizes Bernard Horrenbeek, recalling that the cooperative supported the beginnings of organic and renewable energies in France, “at a time when no bank believed in it”. On its site, it lists all of the 8,000 projects funded, year after year. She thus participated in the development of the Biocoop stores, the chocolate brand Ethiquable, and the energy supplier Enercoop.
Another view of banking
La Nef offers passbooks and term accounts. But two-thirds of savers give up their low remuneration, considering that the added value is not only financial, but also social and environmental, notes Bernard Horrenbeek. “More than a bank, we provide a transparent vision of the money used to finance the real economy in a short circuit logic”he assures.
The cooperative nevertheless plans to expand its offer with the creation of a current account and a payment card, in order to attract young people in particular. It is also launching a major campaign to raise 30 million euros to finance its development plan.