Tag 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.