The Vine


Which Bank represents your values?

Posted by Maurice on May 21, 2014 at 9:15 PM

Everyone's got a bank account right? It's pretty much just an online site that tells you when you're going to run out of money. Right?

Not Really...

Banks, especially the 'Big 4" (Commonwealth, ANZ, Westpac and ANZ) are really the main distributors of investment funds in our country. Almost every person who buys a house, or an expensive car, or any business that wants to expand or upgrade borrows money from one of these big guys.

So where do these companies get the money to lend to people and businesses? Well, instead of putting everyones savings in a digital vault and twiddeling their thumbs, they invest in things that they think will make a return, and pay us all a little bit of interest for the privelage.

I came across a campaign by Market Forces to take funds out of institutions (primarily the Big 4) that are using our savings to do things like support the fossil fuel industry complete project near the Great Barrier Reef. They are ancouraging people to give notice to the bank to stop supporting this industry or they will move their funds elsewhere. I think it's a great campaign, encouraging people to take responsibility for the real-world resultsof their investment. Anyone can pick the highest interest rate - but do you know how the back earnt that return for you? Is is in line with what you want the world to be?

Rather than send the generic letter that Market Forces have set up so people can very simply send this notice to their banks without haveing to draft it themselves, I wanted to write my own. Here it is:



I have been a customer of Commonwealth Bank since I would bring $2 in my dollarmite deposit book to school every wednesday. I remember hitting $100 with bulging grade 1 eyes!



Now I'm a grown up and I have a real job. I can spend $100 out of the very same streamline account without thinking. My next milestone for savings and investments will be more like $100,000 - although I'm not quite there yet.


As I save and invest in my Net Saver and Commsec Accounts, I have become more and more aware that the real return I can make is not just interest and dividends. At least as important as compounding my personal wealth, is how the investments I make can create a world I want to live in.


There are some activities that humans engage in that I believe have a negative effect on our world. Continual use of fossil fuels, and its related activites - which is a major focus of Market Forces who helped move me to action - is one of them.


I am writing to you to advise that I am making a personal commitment to value the real-world effects of my investment over the growth of my personal wealth, and that I will encourage everyone I know to do the same. This will mean I will not invest with institutions that place growth above my true values - or in the specific case of CBA, justifying loans over $5 billion to the fossil fuel industry despite Sustainable Business Practices and Environmental Stewardship making up 2 of the 5 focus areas of CBA's sustainability framework.


In order to continue to invest and borrow through Commonwealth Bank, or any other institution, I will need to see a commitment to true Environmental Stewardship, including no loans to the follis fuel industry, and an undertaking to value the real-world returns equally with monetary returns for any investment made.


I see no point being wealthy in a world that has been exploited for economic ends, and I believe that the best financial institutions of the future will be able to ensure both positive returns for invetors and the environment. I hope that Commonwealth Bank makes the decision to join their ranks.



Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss ways that I think CBA can meet my needs for values-based investment services, or to update me on any changes to your policy on investment in fossil fuels. I will update you on any decision I make regarding moving my finances to an angent that represents my values, and how many people I have encouraged to join Market Forces in doing the same.



Maurice Clisby

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