Category Archives: ethical finance

Dodgy Money and Good Banks

Many people do not really think about where their money goes when they put their wages in a bank. High street banks often support, loan money to, or own shares in a range of ethically dodgy businesses such as arms dealers, tobacco, logging, oil and energy companies to name a few. Many have also been implicated in dodgy deals like the Libor fixing rate or money laundering too.

The recent Panama Papers leak showed how many large banks helped customers to set up off shore investments and tax avoidance schemes. HSBC and Credit Suisse featured often in these documents and both were quick to say they don’t condone tax avoidance – see this article in The Independent.

The controversial decision to allow fracking in North Yorkshire also highlighted that Barclays own 97% of Third Energy, the company applying to do the fracking.

So.. if you have an account or a mortgage with a high street bank and aren’t happy about about their business practises there are some websites to help you make an informed decision. The Good Shopping Guide has lots of articles and blog posts about a range of ethical shopping choices including this one on ethical banks and building societies and the table below comes from that article.

Ethical Money_Banks and Building Societies TableAnother useful source of information is Move Your Money who also talk about other forms of finance like crowdfunding, peer to peer lending and credit unions.

Not all the best ethical banks do current accounts but if you are looking to put savings somewhere you can be assured the top ones are doing really good stuff with your cash.

It is often said people are more likely to get divorced than change bank, but switching accounts is now much easier than it used to be after rules changed in 2013. The excellent Money Saving Expert website has an article about the changes and 7 day current account switch service.

I have had an account with our local credit union for a while but recent banking scandals have prompted me to move as much as I can to ‘Good Banks’. Unfortunately, our mortgage is with a slightly dodgy institution, but at least I’ve made a start!

If you are interested in finding out more about this subject see my previous blog about the free online course Just Money: Banking as if Society Mattered.

just money

Just Money – Banking as if Society Mattered

I have mentioned the U.Lab course Transforming, Business, Society and Self in a previous blog and this free course Just Money: Banking as if Society Mattered is from the same team at MIT. This time they look at how money moves around the exisiting banking ‘system’ and at examples of financial institutions working for positive change and doing things differently.

Hardly a week goes by without some story of dodgy behaviour from big banks so it may surprise you to discover that many credit unions and some banks are actually doing great things with their clients money. Understanding more about how this works gives you the knowledge to make an informed choice about what you do with your own money.

 

The 5 week course is free and runs on the edx.org platform and starts mid-April 2016 but you can register any time and work at your own pace.. blurb from the course page says..

What do you know about banking? Do you know what your bank does with your money? The recent financial crisis highlighted some of the most fundamental issues with the mainstream banking system.

This course looks into banks that operate differently, namely, “just banks” that use capital and finance as a tool to address social and ecological challenges.

This course is for anyone who wants to understand the unique role banks play as intermediaries in our economy and how they can leverage that position to produce positive social, environmental, and economic change.

The instructors of this course have worked for over 10 years with just banks from around the world, as well as in the fields of community development, economic democracy, and social change.

No previous knowledge of finance or banking is needed to take this course.

For more info or to sign up go to the Just Money page on edx.org

This is the first of several spin-off courses from the original U.Lab course and by 2017 there will be more from the same team of people on a range of topics.

Top 100 documentaries from Films for Action

I discovered Films for Action a while ago and can spend hours on their site watching fascinating documentaries or reading thought provoking blogs. They describe Films for Action as a community-powered learning library for people who want to change the world viagra generique maroc.

Over the last 8 years, they have watched hundreds of social change documentaries and cataloged the best of them on the site. There’s now so many that they decided to create a list of the very best 100 fims hand-picked for their quality, insight and potential to inspire positive change. The films cover a wide range of topics including finance, permaculture and gardening, food, energy, democracy and politics, war, happiness, community, education, architecture, media and more.

All of the films have been selected because they are either free to watch online, or can be rented online.  Click on the image below to see the list of 100 films.

100 films for action

From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies: Otto Scharmer

I have mentioned Otto Scharmer in my previous blog post about U.Lab – Transforming, Business, Society and Self. The book on which the course is based is called Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economics.

This is 40 minute talk  ‘From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies’ at Wisdom 2.0 Business 2014. www.wisdom2business.com where Otto goes into more depth about Theory U and its applications in business and other organisations.

 

Find out more about Otto, Theory U and his work at http://www.ottoscharmer.com/

U.Lab – Transforming Business, Society and Self

I am a huge fan of edx.org who offer free online courses on a range of subjects from many of the world’s top universities.

This course is one of them – U.Lab Transforming Business, Society and Self from Otto Scharmer, Adam Yukelson and the U.Lab team at MIT is by far the most powerful, inspiring and life changing thing I have ever done.

Some blurb from edx.org website about the course.. and a short video below with more info.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

We live in a time of disruptive change, one that requires a new collective leadership capacity. In this groundbreaking course, we invite you on a journey to see the world in new ways and practice a method that allows leaders, entire organizations, and larger social systems to connect with and actualize their highest future possibility.

In January 2015, 30,000 people from 190 countries enrolled in U.Lab. In an exit survey, 52% said it was “eye-opening”, while another 36% called it “life-changing”. U.Lab has inspired the first-known use of a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) by a government as a platform for citizens to shape the issues that matter to them, it has been used in management teams of the world’s leading Non Governmental Organisations, and it is now being used in 42 Impact Hubs worldwide – by locally-rooted, globally connected communities of change makers to catalyze systemic change.

In the U.Lab you will learn Theory U, an approach to leading profound change that has been developed by action researchers at MIT, and practiced by leaders around the world, for over 20 years.

This started in September 2015 and runs for 8 weeks but the course material is archived when the course ends so you can jview it at any time.

U.Lab is based on the work of Otto Scharmer and many others. Find out more about Otto, Theory U and his work at http://www.ottoscharmer.com/

 

Thoughts on ethical banking

MYM-Bad-Banks-vs-Good-Money-SPLIT-SECTIONS-01The way some banks have behaved recently does not make me feel great about where I keep my money.  The recurring stories of excessive bonuses, dubious tax avoidance schemes, fiddling interest rates, support for arms trade, oil, fracking or other dodgy bank deals have made me think about alternatives. Under the mattress is not really a practical option so I have been looking into ethical banking and been pleasantly surprised by what I have found out.

This is a profitable and growing organisation, the 25 banks in the Global Alliance for Banking on Values are independent, licensed financial institutions with combined assets of approximately $100 billion. Together they touch the lives of more than 20 million people in 30 countries. While many of their mainstream contemporaries have been hit hard by the financial crisis, this network of progressive banks have largely flourished during it. They share a commitment to build a more sustainable future and have developed effective ways to deliver it.

In the UK Triodos Bank and The Ecology Building Society are part of GABV but the smaller Charity Bank also upholds these sort of ethical values.
Move Your Money UK is a growing movement of ordinary people who are fed up with British banks and want to build a better banking sector. In September 2013 Move Your Money did a survey and found that the areas of banking that mattered most to the public were Honesty, Customer Service, Culture, Impact on the Real Economy and Ethics.
They released a Bank Ranking Scorecard to answer some of these questions. Each bank and building society is given a score out of 100 and ranked accordingly. They have been given a Red (leave/don’t switch here), Amber (doing better) or Green (best-rated banks, switch here if you can) rating to help people decide on a better bank. If you can’t see the chart clearly the full article and criteria are here.

mymscorecard

In case you were wondering.. I have joined a credit union 🙂