In light of our immanent climate and health crises, banks are beginning to revaluate their strategies; transitioning to responsible economic models that seek to improve affected communities and environments, whilst finding new ways to anticipate and tackle complex risks. According to a report by BankTrack ‘the discernible shift that many banks have made in recent years towards addressing the environmental and social impacts of their financial services is a welcome and important first step in this direction... more and more banks realise that ignoring social.’ Thus, advancing sustainability is not just an appeal to the eco-conscious consumer; but rather, hopes to introduce a radical new approach to business and culture itself.
The progress banks make in regard to this will not be measured solely by their charitable commitments, but should be acknowledged in every facet of their business; for example, by introducing new technologies, reevaluating the critical role employees and other stakeholders play in their long-term successes, as well as promoting green credit. This hopes to make systems more resilient, whilst helping to boost the profitability and creditability of institutions.
The Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) is a growing, interconnected network of the world’s leading sustainable banks. Established in 2009 by nine banks, GABV currently represents 54 members and over US$163.4 billion of combined assets. GABV outlines the principles for sustainable banking through a ‘values-based approach’; envisioning a genuine movement which uses money to create a positive social, economic and environmental impact for all societies across the world.
Ecology Building Society
Established in the United Kingdom by a group of likeminded changemakers, motivated to build a more sustainable future, the Ecological Building Society stands to provide mortgages ‘for properties and projects that respect the environment and support sustainable communities, funded through our range of simple, transparent savings accounts.’ By focussing on four main policies: Sustainable Mortgages, Ethical Savings, Affordable Housing and Mutual Values, the Ecology Building Society is committed to developing low-impact building practises, promoting the use of renewable energy and growing a sustainable housing stock to support individuals, charities and sustainable businesses alike. Although it was the smallest British building society from the years 1981-1993, today the society holds over £198 million in assets and has increased gross lending from £38.4 million to £43.5 million over the past year. In 2018, it was awarded the Fair Tax Mark; evidencing the company’s commitment to paying tax responsibly, and since 2015, has been renowned for its long-standing commitment to Fair Pay
The leading ethical bank worldwide is Triodos. Originally set up in the Netherlands in 1980, Triodos was founded with the conviction that banking can act as a powerful force for good. Helping to ‘create a society that protects and promotes quality of life and human dignity for all’, Triodos offers financial products which allow its members to use their money in a sustainable way which benefits people and the environment, leading positive change in the world today ‘through lending, investing and giving’ . Advocating full transparency in regards to where your money goes, Triodos is proud to invest only in ‘real’ money, in order to finance inspiring entrepreneurs, business and charitable organisations. With 109 institutions in 45 countries,
Triodos has risen to become a major global player in the sustainable finance sector and currently acts to assess the sustainable certification of banks, continually ensuring that the highest sustainability standards for itself are met.
The Charity Bank, based in the UK, is an ethical saving and loan bank which uses its savers’ money to lend to charities and other important social enterprises. Owned entirely by charitable foundations itself, the Charity Bank is not focused on making a profit, but rather, aims to help organisations secure loans where they may not have been able to before, and to further lasting social change. The Bank offers personal banking services, with four types of saving accounts to choose from. While some of these are flexible, others earn higher rates of interest, yet all of these contribute to ethical charities and organisations. Customers taking out a loan with the Charity Bank will be contacted by their nearest regional manager, to henceforth advise them on the best way to proceed. Since 2002, the Charity Bank has lent over £319,335,229 in loans, with 100% of customers agreeing this helped them achieve their mission, and 98% of borrowers willing to recommend the Bank to a friend.
Sunrise Banks’ mission is to become the most innovative bank empowering financial wellness. From consolidating three separate separately chartered banks: Franklin Bank, Park Midway Bank and University Bank in April 2013, Sunrise Banks was formed: a family owned, nationally chartered community bank, with six locations embedded throughout the urban, Minneapolis–St. Paul region in which it serves. Certified as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), Sunrise works ‘to generate economic growth and opportunity in some of [their] most distressed communities by injecting new sources of capital into neighbourhoods that lack financing.’ Driven by CEO David Reiling’s vision to balance purpose with profit, Sunrise delivers innovative financial services, centred around four main focuses:Commercial Lending & Leasing, Personal banking, Fintech partnerships, and Government lending focused on New Markets Tax Credits and SBA lending, to help support positive community engagement.
Today, Sunrise Banks is recognised as a top B Corporation, having received 'Best for the World' honours for overall social and environmental impact, and continues to be recognised as A Public Benefit Corporation: voluntarily meeting the highest standards of corporate purpose, accountability, and transparency to help fund regional sustainable development plans across all sectors overall.