Thinking about ethical banking

The older I get, the more I realise how little I know about what’s going on in our world. A friend shared this post (in French) about changing our lifestyles and it got me thinking. If you can’t read French, or if you don’t want to read the article, here’s a summary: the author writes about the changes she has made in her life to contribute to making a more harmonious world. Some of these changes include always having a reusable bag, replacing all household cleaning products with products we can easily find in our kitchens such as vinegar, recycling, reducing purchases with excess packaging, composting, considering the ethical aspect of our purchases (are the people who make our products treated fairly and respectfully?), reflecting on where our food comes from, switching to organic, becoming vegetarian, making the switch to using menstrual cups, switching to a bank which supports environmental, social, cultural and ethical projects, etc. There are many interesting suggestions on how we can be more ethical – and thankfully, I have been doing my part in many areas – but this is the first time I’ve heard of ethical banking.

Wikipedia (I know you’re rolling your eyes, but they’re a convenient and quick resource for definitions!) says, “An ethical bank, also known as a social, alternative, civic, or sustainable bank, is a bank concerned with the social and environmental impacts of its investments and loans. Ethical banks are part of a larger societal movement toward more social and environmental responsibility in the financial sector.”

I had no idea such a thing existed! Is there hope for the banking industry after all? I did a quick search on ethical banking in Singapore and even the search gods couldn’t come up with anything optimistic, or maybe I’m not searching hard enough. But then I started to wonder what my banks are doing with my money. What are they investing in? Is it a cause that I would support? How do I find out where my money goes?!?? It’s all a bit depressing and I still have no answers after scouring the Internet for hours. It made me more inclined to switch to an ethical bank. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to find any Singaporean ethical banks apart from a bank with religious affiliations.

The Guardian (they have an entire section dedicated to ethical money) recently published a few articles about ethical banking options in the UK and the French article that my friend shared also gave a few suggestions in France. Perhaps I should consider an offshore bank account? Here’s hoping that ethical banking makes its way to Singapore and the rest of Asia soon!

All this banking talk is giving me a headache. 😦


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