Antonio Gnocchini
WHY CHOOSING THE RIGHT BANK IS MORE URGENT THAN RECYCLING


Whenever I look at my social impact or at any form of sustainable lifestyle I strive to have, anything I wish to do to be better, I see that the obstacles, the deeply entrenched systems and all the massive organisations working against me, they all are subsidised, somehow, by me.

What I mean is that these organisations are all funded by the same banks I have an account or a mortgage with.

All world bad actors need banks to function. And those banks need us to function.

The point being that the most necessary, the real urgent thing to do to get to a sustainable lifestyle is to impact these organisations’ banks. We need to drain their resources.

Any form of serious action to better the world needs to start here.

Banks operate fundamentally by leveraging assets. A collection of mortgages or savings accounts or loans, once clustered and rated they represent a solid asset which the bank can leverage. Meaning financing, funding, investing and of course speculating, in amounts several times multiple of the original value of the asset. They can do that because they can count on us: we will pay our debts and we will deposit our savings.

So, banks simply leverage our loans and our savings. They leverage our mortgage and our job.

They leverage our life.

We are the only real brick in their brick & mortar. We pull ourselves off of it and they would not have anything hard enough to stand on.

So the hardest part to realise when dealing with banks is that they need us more than we need them.

Most of the business banks conduct is invisible. Invisible to you and often not that clear to themselves either. But any bank would require transparency from anybody asking for a loan. Any bank strictly demands transparency from organisations applying for a line of credit or from people inquiring for a mortgage.

You are very transparent to your bank: it sees your payslip, your credit card and your rent. Meaning your income and your expenses, de facto your whole life as an economic individual.

Try to demand the same transparency from your bank.

In the end, your being a good citizen and paying your debts is what makes banks ratings good and valid. While banks larger occupation, how they use your money and your credit, what they should be actually rated for, most of the times that’s what gives them terrible scores.

Our small savings and more broadly our bank accounts, combined, they can have more influence on the banks behaviour than any hedge fund: banks desperately need us. We, breathing, real, non-incorporated people.

FIND THE TIME

Attention is the only currency we need here.

Check what your bank is actually investing on. See how they are using your savings (or your debt) for.

Do it now. Find the time. Please.

Can you see that nothing they do represents what you value in life? In fact, most of what they do is what you are opposing, daily.

Banks stopped being a service to you, and to anybody else in fact, some decades ago. This is not an ethical judgement, I’m saying strictly from a brazen and disgustingly selfish point of view: they are not a service to me, to you, to people. Not any more.

Financial products right now are more like a tax on the rest of the population. A tax used to pay for something that is hurting you.

Find instead a bank that represents your values.

I switched to an ethical bank. There are many around the world. I chose mine from this list.

They are solid, reliable and they care. They only invest in real economy and in renewable energies and they fund sustainable ventures.

You will see that most times their rating is higher than the one of big global banks. Because they are not interested in gambling on derivatives using your savings. Speculation is not their core business.

“…but my current bank is costing 2 euros less…”. Please.

See over the year how many times they have found ways to get back those 2 euros in less visible ways. Besides…Is it really ok for a bank to screw you and your planet for just that little?

Switch bank. It’s easy. Do not postpone. Do it now. This is important.

WHAT NEXT?

Ask your bank how and where they invest. Which companies, which industries and what kind of screening they adopt. Ask for visibility to all their fundings. If they don’t post them on their site demand transparency. You want to know how they use your savings.

If you are investing, consider really well for what you want to risk. Every investment has a risk. What is it worth risking for?

If you want to play very safe, be aware that some of the most solid bonds are crafted under strict sustainability and ethical guidelines. Ask for them.

Some are fake or carefully greenwashed, so do check the list of companies they include.

In general, make sure your bank or whoever invests your money, does it following your values.

And keep monitoring them. You can use some research tools like the below.

Finance-watch.org

BankTrack.org

Most of the largest banks have an incredibly scandalous track record, do not be surprised if you find them listed here several times. They got away with it but now it’s enough. Switch to a new one, it has never been easier.

Find the time, please.



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