GLS Bank

Last updated
GLS Bank
Industry Financial services
Headquarters Bochum, Germany
Key people
Thomas Jorberg, President
Products Sustainable banking
AUM 4.1 billion (2016)
Number of employees
514 (2017)

GLS Bank (full name GLS Gemeinschaftsbank eG) is a German ethical bank that was founded in 1974 as an anthroposophical initiative by Wilhelm Ernst Barkhoff and Gisela Reuther. It was the first bank in Germany that operated with an ethical philosophy. [1] According to GLS Bank, its focus is on cultural, social and ecological initiatives, initiated by people, and not anonymous interests seeking capital or maximum profit. The name stands for Gemeinschaftsbank für Leihen und Schenken which translates as Community bank for loaning and giving. With the main focus on cultural, social and environmental ventures, GLS tries to deal with challenges in the society by developing creative solutions. [2]

An ethical bank, also known as a social, alternative, civic, or sustainable bank, is a bank concerned with the social and environmental impacts of its investments and loans. The ethical banking movement includes: ethical investment, impact investment, socially responsible investment, corporate social responsibility, and is also related to such movements as the fair trade movement, ethical consumerism, and social enterprise.

Anthroposophy philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner

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Wilhelm Ernst Barkhoff was a German solicitor, founder of anthroposophically oriented alternative banking, the GLS Bank, reformer of the German welfare system and inspirer of the movement for Ethical banking.


The head office of the German GLS Bank in Bochum, Germany GLS Bank.jpg
The head office of the German GLS Bank in Bochum, Germany

The bank is based in Bochum, Germany and is a co-operative. As of November 2006, the bank's total balance was EUR 645 million. [1] As of 31 December 2008, the balance sheet total was EUR 1,013 million, further rising to EUR 1,847 million as of 31 December 2010.

Bochum Place in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Bochum is the sixth largest city of the most populous German federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia after Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund, Essen and Duisburg, and its 364,920 (2016) inhabitants make it the 16th largest city of Germany. On the Ruhr Heights (Ruhrhöhen) hill chain, between the rivers Ruhr to the south and Emscher to the north, it is the second largest city of Westphalia after Dortmund, and the fourth largest city of the Ruhr after Dortmund, Essen and Duisburg. It lies at the centre of the Ruhr, Germany's largest urban area, in the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Region, and belongs to the region of Arnsberg. It is surrounded by the cities of Herne, Castrop-Rauxel, Dortmund, Witten, Hattingen, Essen and Gelsenkirchen. Bochum is the sixth largest and one of the southernmost cities in the Low German dialect area. There are nine institutions of higher education in the city, most notably the Ruhr University Bochum, one of the ten largest universities in Germany, and the Bochum University of Applied Sciences.

In 2015, the bank received the first German Award for Excellence from the Deutschen Gesellschaft für Zertifizierung (German Certification Group). [3] [4] The award was granted to honor the bank's fair business practices.

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In December 2016 at the annual general assembly, about 80% of the 1200 people present at the assembly decided to introduce the GLS Beitrag. [5] [6] [7]


In 2010, the bank acquired over 18,000 new customers and in February 2011 GLS announced a growth of 37 per cent, the largest in the bank's history. [8] As of December 2016 the Genossenschaft (co-operative) has 46.313 members, [9] compared to December 2015 with 41.982 members [9] this is a growth of 10.3%. [9]

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  1. 1 2 GLS Gemeinschaftsbank, summary by International Association of Investors in the Social Economy, December 2006. For summary report enter 'GLS' in search box
  2. "GLS Bank: A brief portrait - GLS Bank". 2011. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  3. GLS Bank für vorbildliche Geschäftspolitik ausgezeichnet, Umwelt-Kompass
  4. Erstmals verliehener „German Award for Excellence“ geht an GLS-Bank
  5. GLS Beitrag: Im Neuland, GLS Blog
  7. "Gebühr ohne Schrecken". Handelsblatt. 2017. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  8. "GLS Bank with 37 percent record growth". 2011. Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2011.
  9. 1 2 3 GLS Bank, Zahlen & Fakten

Coordinates: 51°28′15″N7°13′11″E / 51.47081°N 7.21981°E / 51.47081; 7.21981