Huw Davies - The power of money
The first step to changing finance is changing your bank
10-10-2011 | If you are one of the growing population of ethical consumers in the UK, you will take time to make careful decisions about the sourcing and production of products you buy. You no doubt want to do your bit to make the world a better place - for now and the future?
And, along with most people, you probably find banks and financial services pretty dull, just one of life's necessities - but hardly the most exciting topic?
But take another look… because your bank and savings provider should be top of your ethical shopping list.
Many ethical consumers have not considered how uneasily their choice of bank may sit with their other choices and beliefs. Their money may be used to support unethical activity, and certainly not to fulfil its potential to enable positive change. The future doesn't just happen, we're collectively creating it every day, and your savings play a big role in that - here's why:
How banks put your money to work
Money does not stay still, it is passed around the global system, being lent and invested. This activity seems a far cry from handing over hard-earned cash at a local bank branch for safe-keeping. But the fact is that, once out of your hands, your money enters a system which is far from transparent. Banks' lending and investment decisions could see your savings helping to fund businesses and organisations you do not approve of - for example, tobacco firms, arms manufacturers, undemocratic regimes, or businesses with appalling records on pollution.
Of course, these same banks also support ethical businesses, and individuals - the problem is that in today's interconnected global financial marketplace you cannot be sure that your savings are not doing harm.
Increasingly, we want to know how the products we buy are sourced and produced, from fishing to clothing to coffee. If as a consumer you take an interest in, for example, how the food you eat reaches your plate, and make purchase decisions based on this, why not also challenge and understand how the money system works - and act on it?
Recent research shows that 85% of all UK savers want more information on what banks actually do with their money, and just three per cent of savers feel banks are transparent about what happens to their savings once deposited. At Triodos Bank, we believe savers have a right to know if their hard earned cash is being used to fund industries such as weapons production or the tobacco industry, only then can they make an educated choice as to where they deposit their money.
At Triodos we show our savers all the places we lend to, and they are all businesses and organisations working for positive change in either social, cultural, or environmental sectors.
The role of banks?
The same research showed that three out of four savers (74%) think banks should take more responsibility and proactively do more to help society. At Triodos we believe we need to see the banking industry doing more to support and focus on the real economy and its future rather than operating with a primary mission of delivering short-term shareholder returns. The sector as a whole must acknowledge customers' interest in the use of money, and properly consider the role that its power and influence can play in acting for positive change.
Change banking - one account at a time
As an ethical consumer, we'd love you to join us and put your money to work for good - while earning you interest. It's easy, and means that your other ethical consumer choices are supported automatically by what your money is doing when it's not in your hands.
Ethical consumers have demonstrated that our purchasing decisions can have an huge impact, helping products like fair trade and organics go from niche to mainstream. If buying the right coffee and cotton can change the world for the better, just imagine how powerful it could be if we all chose the right bank.