Words by: Vicki Baikie Art by: Mikhail Volkov
Let me ask you something, how did you come across your first bank account?
Was it through the same bank as your parents or with the first bank you knew of? And your super, was it the company that was encouraged by your first employer?
In 2019, a study conducted by CUA found that 50 per cent of Australians between the ages of 18–24 chose the same bank as their parents and 18 per cent of all Australians chose the first bank they came across.
But have you ever considered how such choices influence your environmental impact? And why now more than ever, it’s crucial we do our homework before choosing where to willingly invest our cold hard cash?
First let me break this down for you. All the Big Four banks still invest in fossil fuels both here in Australia
and internationally. But what they don’t want you to know, is they aren’t stupid. Financial institutions are
more than aware that consumers these days are much more ethically conscious now than they used to be. But instead of actually changing their ways, enter greenwashing, a marketing tool which sets out to convey a more sustainable image of their processes. A common way of doing this is through setting targets such as 100 per cent renewable by 2030, or by highlighting one thing they may be doing right and completely ignoring the rest; take NAB’s announcement to not fund new thermal coal mines for example.
I say, if you want the real picture of how environmentally friendly your current bank is, ditch their “sustainability” pages that scream PR opportunity and check out the bank comparison table available on the Market Forces website.
I have done the basics and outlined some great recommendations below, but I still encourage you to complete your own research to find the right place for you.
This bank has strong beliefs in responsible banking and does not support fossil fuels, live animal exports, gambling, the arms industry or tobacco. You can expect to find the same products offered with no difference in fees.
Teachers Mutual Bank
Governed as Australia’s most ethical bank in 2020, this is one of the best options out. However, as per
the name you must be working in the education sector to be a member.
An online bank owned by NAB, it is the first bank worldwide to have a green term deposit that invests in sustainable initiatives. However, it’s the only product that is solely dedicated to sustainable investments.
This super provides clear indication of what you
are investing in through each of the three investment options. Their Balanced Index option has shown a 9.66 per cent annualised return rate since its inception.
Owned by Future Super, this is a super fund for women by women. Fees are lower than accounts held with Future Super and returns in Balanced Index are lower at a rate of 7.27 per cent.
Australian Ethical Super
Balanced Index returns are at 6.20 per cent since inception. Important to note they do invest in Westpac and NAB.
Every dollar you save is a dollar that can be invested in a sustainable future. In a report undertaken by Future Super, Australia could be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy by 7.7 per cent of super savings without the need for government support. By being less loyal, more flexible and more picky with our banking and super, we can influence the way these institutions spend their money. Put your money where your mouth is and fund the future you want to see.