We may not necessarily think of ourselves as an investors. But right now,
our money is moving all over the world, and making things happen.
But carefully choosing where we store our pounds, we are ultimately making the choice to actively assist or assail the transition toward a better world.
We have great, financial power when selecting ethical, alternative banking organisations - ensuring our cash is invested in social and environmental development, instead of funding fossil fuel extraction, human rights abuses and nefarious lobbying practices.
Avoid or move your money from the 'Big 5' high street banks: HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds, RBS and Santander.
Switch your money to an ethical bank or building society.
The main thing that separates Banks from Building Societies are shareholders. Banks and their buddies are largely concerned only with making profit.
The Big 5
Over 80% of current accounts in the UK are held with:
HSBC (including First Direct and M&S bank),
Lloyds (including Halifax and Bank of Scotland),
RBS (including NatWest and Ulster Bank),
These big banks have notoriously bad track records. They are constantly rumbled:
Collectively they lent £66 billion to companies around the world engaged in oil and gas extraction. Around the world, big banks gave $290 billion to extreme fossil fuel companies between 2014-16.
Despite the majority local constituency saying no, oil and gas explorer company Cuadrilla owned mostly by Barclay's bank, went ahead trying to frack North England.
Thriving off conflict, serving companies who supply military hardware to armed forces or directly financing the war effort.
Funding agribusinesses to destroy of forests to produce palm oil, beef, and rubber.
It is estimated that developing countries lose almost three times more to tax havens than they receive in aid each year.
Building societies are run by their members in the interest of the members. Pretty much anyone who has an account at a building society can be a member, giving them the right to be part of the running of the institution, by attending meetings, voting for directors, and even influencing investment decisions.
Being run by, and so in the interest of, their members, building societies are under less pressure to make money to please a small selection of insalubrious stakeholders.
They score highly in customer service, honesty, transparency, ethics, and have a positive impact on the economy.
Using fresh digital technology, challenger banks like Revolut, Starling and Monzo are easier to set up, more flexible, quicker to adapt to market trends and customer needs, more user friendly and more personal than traditional banks.
Challenger banks don’t have same long-established investment biases that are prevalent in the traditional financial sector. Currently they seem to aim to attract customers, hoping to break even, and so invest their profits in overdrafts and funds for new and existing customers.
As small businesses, struggling in early years, These fintech start-ups don't seem to have many ethical policies. Not even mentioning their data centres which require large amounts of energy. However, currently they offer a good alternative to leaving money in the Big 5 high-street banks and their trails of unethical investments.
Who to switch to?
Small, local banks, credit unions and building societies have more close-knit, community-grounded, people-powered and positive perspectives with honest business models that are linked to stimulating the local economy and often support progressive societal and environmental projects too.
Switching is easy, it literally takes minutes. And they sort it all for you. And sometimes they give you £100. Even £25 for charity too sometimes. And your money is used for good. Do it!
Triodos has a great current account, which you know will invest your money solely in sustainable, ethical, community projects.
Challenger banks also offer a quick, cheap, flexible alternative to mainstream banks. They are new, nascent need more people, so are so far void of dangerous investment in destructive industries.
Charity Bank is really different as it only supports and invests in charities and social enterprises to help change the world, seriously improving the ethical index of the finance sector in a radical way.
The Good Shopping Guide offers this amazing, easy ethical comparison of banks to help make benevolent banking decisions.