A Bank For The Future

People have been asking me how I have goneBank - Young Woman Using ATM about being conscious about the sustainability of what my ‘big’ money is doing.

So…over the next few posts I’ll tell you…exactly.

This week we’ll cover banking.

Why

In my post Just How Much Sustainability Bang Do You Get For Your Buck? I spoke about how being conscious about what your ‘big’ money is doing is one of the easiest ways to live more sustainably.

And I gave some you hints about how to go about it.

My original banking arrangements

When I first started with my most recent bank, it was a small bank that focussed on home-buyers.  Simple, honest, basic banking without big frills and bit-time wheeling and dealing.

It had started as a local building society and gradually built up to become a regional bank…but still focussed on home loans. 🙂

Then my bank’s CEO moved to one of the Big 4 Australian banks.

And…surprise, surprise…that bank bought out my little (medium-sized) bank.

Sure, they kept all the branding and ‘friendly’ feel.

But it was now owned by one of the Big 4.

My original bank would not have been financing big fossil fuel deals.  And I would still be banking with it and happy that my banking was ‘good’ banking.

Instead, I was now effectively a Big 4 customer.  So my money in the bank was supporting fossil fuels…and destruction of Earth’s human-habitable atmosphere. 🙁

The question now was…how bad was my parent bank’s behaviour?

Answering that question was very hard…until the last couple of years.

In 2011, Greenpeace the released of the Pillars of Pollution report on how the biggest 4 Australian banks are ‘propping up pollution’.  It showed how the Big 4 finance the expansion of the coal industry…making global warming worse.

The end of the report told readers how they could change this.  It provided phone numbers and addresses to help motivated people take action.

But now, it is much easier to find out what your bank is doing…and to something about it.

The recent release of the Market Forces website enables you to easily see how your bank is helping expand the fossil fuel industry by funding coal and gas ports in Australia.

Market Forces shows exactly which how much each bank is funding each port.

The Big 4 Australian Banks are at the top of the list…but major Asian, European and North American banks are prominent too.  Banks like HSBC and Standard Chartered…

And my original bank?

At least it wasn’t one of the top 2 worst banks in Australia…

But it was certainly a major financier of expanding fossil fuel use.

Moving banks

So I decided to move the bulk of my bank funds to a much more benign bank.

Clearly, standard banks were out.

Market Forces showed that the 4 major Australian banks – and a lot of international banks that have recently started operating in Australia – are funding destruction of the Earth as we know it.

The two top candidates for me were regionally-based and community-focussed banks…just like my original bank was too. 🙂

Their operations had become a bit more sophisticated and locally available to me than when I looked using them several years ago. 🙂

But their main banking services operate from a pretty complicated credit union model with very few local offices.  🙁

So…

At this stage I have moved most of my cash funds to one of these banks.  I have a small term deposit and most of the rest of my money in an online account.

That way, my money in the bank can now work hard and ethically.

And I have left my line of credit and day-to-day banking with my original bank for convenience.

But there is very little money in there…the money coming in and going out is just channelled through that bank…so it does not have access to my funds for any more than 24 hours and it makes no money from me.

(It will soon be even easier for Australians to choose a bank that does not invest in fossil fuel projects.  Market Forces is developing a comprehensive list of alternative banks.  In the meantime, you might like to consider ME BankBank MECU, Bendigo Bank or Beyond Bank Australia.)

Next week: retirement savings

Post your actions and results in the Reply box below…or send me a voice message by clicking on the tab on the right.

Till next time…be gentle to yourself and our world!

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