Has your bank been convicted of fraudulently opening accounts? Has it been in the news for funding companies that contradict your morals? Do you trust them? Most of us do not know where the cash in our banks goes, but everyday more and more people want to find out.
Wells Fargo opened up as many as 3.5 million unauthorized bank accounts and credit cards, a number that has continued to increase in the past year and a half as the bank has slowly begun to admit the magnitude of their fraudulent and systematic wrong-doing.
In 2016, the Defund DAPL Campaign highlighted the 17 financial institutions that directly loaned money for pipeline construction and the 38 banks were offering credit lines to the parent companies financing the Dakota Access pipeline. Media attention covering the attacks on the water protectors helped inspire over $85 million in personal divestment and over $4.3 billion in city divestment.
Events like these have been a catalyst for many people to make the connection between where their hard-earned dollars “sleep at night” and their personal ethics and values. You vote with every dollar that you spend and save. Every day Americans spend $36 billion as consumers.
Fueled by morality and technology, impact-focused and socially-conscious banking is providing consumers with more options than ever. Below, we highlight leading banks that have a net positive impact on people and planet as well as profit. We also describe several tools that you — as a HIP Investor — can use to determine where you want your cash to spend the night. (phrasing pioneered by New Resource Bank’s Vince Siciliano)
TOOLS TO DISCOVER AN IMPACTFUL BANK
With so many considerations, it can be hard to find a good place to start. Luckily, there are many free tools available to help you sort through your options.
The Global Alliance for Banking on Values, consists of 46 financial institutions across the globe that serve over 41 million customers. These banks fund everyday people and entrepreneurs, not derivative trading. Sustainable banks are also stronger financially.
When looking for a bank, many people don’t initially think of credit unions, but as non-profit cooperatives the profits of the credit union are returned to all of their members as dividends. CUloopup is a great tool to find credit union by location, affiliation or name. It also offers insightful links for financial education and financial calculators.
Bank Local uses publicly available data from the FDIC, the FFIEC, and the NCUE to look at metrics like small business lending, HQ location, bank branch concentration, ownership type, bank size, small farm and agricultural lending, and speculative trading. These criteria help you determine if your bank is investing locally, if management has an understanding of local needs, and if they support small business and small-scale agriculture.
BANKS SEEKING HUMAN IMPACT + PROFIT
New Resource Bank, based in San Francisco, is a triple-bottom-line bank that invests client funds in sustainable companies. Deposits held with NRB are put to work funding, for example, expanding working capital for values-aligned organic food producers or improving energy efficiency for nonprofits. NRB aims to have an impact in four key areas: environmental protection, health and wellness, education and community empowerment, and sustainable commerce. NRB recently announced that it is merging with fellow B Corp Amalgamated Bank, and will gain an array of new commercial and consumer products, and potentially, the scale of a nationwide bank. NRB’s commitments even extends to their employees’ retirement plans. With the help of Green Retirement, Inc. and HIP Investor, the bank introduced a new Fossil Free 401(k) plan option that empowers employees to eliminate oil and gas companies from their retirement investments.
Aspiration, based in Marina Del Rey, is a newer bank for people to do well and do good with their dollars. Aspiration’s Summit Checking Account offers up to 1% annual percentage yield and refunds on all ATM fees. It also donates 10% of every dollar to charity to helping struggling Americans build better lives. Aspiration has partnered with HIP to create the AIM (Aspiration Impact Measurement), a feature that lets you see the sustainability of your purchases — and rates the impact of each purchase with a People Score and a Planet Score, built on the depth and range of HIP ratings and impact metrics.
Where will your money sleep at night? Use these tools to compare your bank, local banks, big banks and impact-focused banks. You can build a better world, starting with your cash.
Ask your bank how the funds generate human impact. If the answer is not sufficient, then explore other banks and credit unions if it’s important to you that your cash be more HIP. Click here for a PDF Resource Guide with some additional tools and additional banking options from our website.