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.
Another 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.