Over the decades it has remained an Isle of Man constant in the face of a number of global financial crises, a world war and this year’s coronavirus pandemic, and aims to continue doing so in the future, whatever that may hold.
Founded in 1935 under the name Conister Trust, the independent bank has always put the island’s community at the forefront of everything it does.
Nothing illustrated that more than earlier this year, when the Covid-19 lockdown took hold, and Conister Bank set aside £10 million to provide loans of up to £500,000 for businesses negatively impacted by the coronavirus and the cancellation of the TT.
Managing Director Douglas Grant said: ‘Our actions earlier in the year are reflective of the direction we are taking.
‘We want to take responsibility for future generations and be an active part of the solution to whatever challenges arise.’
He added: ‘In 2021 we will demonstrate our commitment to increasing awareness by encouraging our staff and the wider community to help bring about a more climate-friendly economy.’
Conister Bank Limited will work to provide financial options to support environmental, sustainable and resilient growth via renewable energy.
It will also align the brand to promote clean energy and be an active participant in reducing environmental impact
Douglas said: ‘From its inception as Conister Trust, and now Conister Bank, we have always played a crucial role in the community.
‘Our future vision sees us playing our part in helping to create a sustainable future for the generations that follow.’
As well as committing to the Green Finance and renewables industry, the bank will improve its lending proposition.
‘We are a community bank and a financial institution that is prepared to take responsibility for the preservation of our environment,’ Douglas added.
Conister Bank began life in the Isle of Man as Conister Trust in 1935, when George V was on the throne and the prototype of the Spitfire was built.
It started up on December 5, 1935, in Athol Street, and its directors included T.R. Radcliffe – the then editor of Isle of Man Examiner, J. Ashton from Ashton Garage Ltd, which later became Mylchreest Motors, and R. S. Homes, a Castletown baker.
Under founder manager Arthur Faragher, the aim was to provide hire purchase finance to car dealers in the Isle of Man whose only previous option had been to look to UK companies for their needs. The first transaction was from Ramsey Motors Ltd and was to finance the purchase of a Bedford van.
At the company’s first annual meeting, in 1936, Mr Radcliffe is reported in the Isle of Man Times to have said: ‘Hire purchase is here to stay and is growing in volume.’
The Times report also stated: ‘Mr Radcliffe remarked that at the outset there had been a disposition in some quarters to fear that the introduction of a local finance company would not be welcomed by the borrower but that had proved almost groundless.’
It was in 1936 that Conister moved into the original Victory House in Prospect Hill, Douglas.
Over the years, the business has expanded its product offering, but never turned its back on its roots.
In 1964, the business moved into Conister House in Finch Road, Douglas, and although it has moved again since then – to premises in Isle of Man Business Park in 2007 before locating at its current headquarters, Clarendon House in Douglas, in 2011 – it has always stayed close to the capital.
The name Conister Trust was taken from Conister Rock in Douglas Bay, home of the Tower of Refuge, and which can be seen from Victoria Street, where Conister Bank’s Clarendon House headquarters are located.
Just as the Conister Rock and the Tower of Refuge represent a haven of safety during crisis, Conister Bank has proved itself able to be a similar beacon during difficult times, as illustrated by its support for businesses during the lockdown.
Conister Trust became Conister Trust PLC on April 19, 1993, which in turn changed to Conister Trust Limited on February 13, 2008.
The name Conister Bank Limited was adopted on October 19, 2009
Douglas said: ‘Conister Bank, and Conister Trust before it, has a proud history of supporting the Isle of Man in whether we are in settled times or in the unpredictable world we have found ourselves in this year.
‘Our personnel and location may have changed over the decades, but the Conister core values remain the same.’
Key among those, he said, are courtesy, safety and integrity.
As an independent bank, Conister is able to tailor products to the specific needs of businesses in the community.
Lending decisions are taken here, in the island, using local knowledge to help clients.
He added: ‘As the island’s community bank, we committed to transparency and acting ethically.
‘We believe banks should always put the customer first. That’s why we will always seek to find solutions that suit, rather than selling products that do not work.’