If You Have a Bank Account You Are an Investor
When you deposit money in a bank, it doesn’t just sit there. Banks use your deposits to make loans and investment in different projects. Banks play an essential role because they finance our economy; they determine who gets access to loans, and who doesn’t.
In the last few years many banks have been scrutinized for their investments. In the 5 years since the Paris Agreement, the world’s 60 biggest banks have financed $3.8 trillion into fossil fuel projects and companies. JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Bank of America being the biggest offenders. Similarly, in 2019 many banks made a commitment to cut ties with private prison and immigrant detention industries including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, SunTrust, BNP Paribas, Fifth Third Bancorp, Barclays and PNC however they haven’t all been keeping their word. In mid-April, Barclays was kicked out of the American Sustainable Business Council after underwriting municipal bonds for two prisons. It was also recently discovered that JPMorgan Chase has been investing in private prison bonds in their asset management division.
Until big banks take responsibility and care for the role that they play in our society, we can move our money to organizations like Community Banks and Credit Unions. Institutions like these were founded to serve their communities. They help to build local economies by giving access to credit and capital. This means the opportunity for jobs, homes, and businesses for thousands if not millions of individuals. Community Financial Institutions also tend to have lower fees, higher interest rates (for savings), and better customer service.
There are many organizations that have resources to help you understand how your bank is using your money and also to help you find better banks. Specifically, Green America’s Get a Better Bank and Banking on Climate Chaos’s How Does Your Bank Score. Mighty Deposits is also a great resource. It has a tool you can use to see your money's impact as well as to find a new financial institution. Using a better bank or credit union is the first step to being an impact investor. It doesn’t cost anything, and you may even save on fees.
GIVE’s is a community that makes sustainable investing accessible to all through online courses and a soon to be published book. You can find more information online at www.give.how.