Our theme Think Global, Act Local, Get Equal is all about economic equality. One aspect of this topic that affects us all is banking: banks invest your money—mostly in big business and other banks & financial institutions.
Since the 1980s governments have encouraged banks to take risks and generate big profits. In 2007/8 this led to a financial crisis, and LloydsTSB and RBS were given large amounts of public money to keep them afloat. Since then, government and the banks have done little to change the system.
But it wasn’t always like this. In the 16th & 17th centuries several Quakers went into banking – becoming successful because of their reputation for honesty and fair dealing. Lloyds and Barclays were founded by Quakers.
Unfortunately, today they are owned by private shareholders, and have lost their Quaker values. But other ethical options for looking after your money have taken their place, including:
- Credit Unions
- Building Societies
- Ethical Banks
Check out how ethical (or not) your current bank is: Ethical Consumer Magazine offers handy guides to current accounts and savings accounts (the main articles are free, subscribers can view more detailed league tables of different providers.) Some of the ethical issues they consider are:
- the arms trade
- climate change
- tax avoidance
- high-risk financial speculation
- ‘financially excluded’ people
Churches and individual Christians can also check out Money Makes Change resources from ECCR, or join one of their online events in June & July 2020. Other faith groups may be able to adapt some of these materials too.
Always seek independent financial advice before buying any financial product.
You can also call on pension providers to invest your pension in ways that support people and planet, with the Make My Money Matter campaign.
Together we can start holding the banking system to account: after all, it’s our money they are investing! But of course, systemic changes are needed too – starting with Tax Justice.
Keep in touch for more ideas and actions for economic equality.