ethical banking

Whether you have a little or a lot of it, there's no denying that money is a powerful form of democracy. The way you spend, save and invest is a vote for your values and beliefs. So it's quite frightening that a new survey this week has found nearly half of all investors have no idea which businesses or industries their money is supporting.
In 2008 the world suffered its most severe financial crisis since the calamities of the 1930s. Since then debate has raged over just what went wrong. Some blame greedy bankers, anxious to profit at any cost. Others blame banks' foolhardy approach, tolerating senselessly high levels of borrowing and marketing financial products too complex to understand...
On the day that Royal Bank of Scotland announced a bonus payout to it's staff of £588million in spite of an operating loss of £8.24billion, one had to wonder if any lessons were really learnt from the mess that was left after the banking crash only a few years ago...
We thought we'd seen banking at its lowest point when the public were forced to bail out the banks four years ago, but since then we've seen the libor rate-rigging scandal and continued mis-selling. All the while the bankers who presided over corruption continue to enjoy hugely inflated pay and bonuses.
Ethical finance schemes such as community shares have saved hundreds of local shops, pubs, cafes, transport schemes and broadband projects from closure. They are particularly popular in remote areas such as Cumbria because of the challenges involved in making rural businesses succeed.
I'm not naïve enough to suggest that if enough of us swap to an ethical financial institution, the entire financial system will suddenly find its conscience. But here's what the ethical sector can do: show that an alternative is possible.