A client of mine asked me a great question recently: how can I bank and invest consciously? Her priorities are to specifically divest from the fossil fuel and war-related industries, which many of the major banks unfortunately invest heavily in. She is a part of a growing number of consumers, including myself, looking to do something similar: bank and invest with high impact.
On the banking front, my research brought me to two helpful bank designations that will help her and others like her do good with their money:
- Certified B Corporation Banks
Certified B Corporations are “businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.” By extension, B Corporation banks align their investment goals with a triple bottom line: profit, people, and planet. Some examples that are specific to the West Coast, where we’re based:
- Amalgamated Bank – invests mostly in social justice-oriented companies
- Aspiration Bank – invests mostly in climate forward companies
- Beneficial State Bank – invests in social justice-oriented and climate forward companies
One thing to consider is the availability of physical branches and ATM locations, if that’s an important feature for you. Luckily, online banking is becoming more and more ubiquitous and so are widely offered ATM networks. All three banks listed above utilize the AllPoint, START, or MoneyPass ATM networks, which are widely available in major cities.
2. Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV)
The Global Alliance for Banking on Values is an independent network of banks using finance to deliver sustainable economic, social and environmental development. Their collective goal is to change the banking system so that it is more transparent, supports economic, social and environmental sustainability, and is composed of a diverse range of banking institutions serving the real economy. Check out their list of member banks to see if it makes sense for you to make the socially conscious jump.
Investing in socially conscious companies and securities has historically yielded comparably lower yields. But I think that’s a tradeoff I suspect many of us are willing to take in order to divest from industries that ultimately prioritize profits over people and planet.
Here are two platforms that allow you to do some high-impact investing:
- OpenInvest – passive investing in causes you set yourself, such as climate forward, prison divestment, LGBTG rights, weapons divestments, and more.
- Ellevest – female founded and oriented, has an Impact Investing portfolio, also has banking/savings products (though I can’t say it doesn’t invest in fossil fuels or war. I’ve asked them directly, so stay tuned!)
There are also high-impact real estate investment companies, like SoLa Impact – they’re one of my financial education clients. Specifically, SoLa Impact invests in affordable housing properties to turn it around for the community, rather than for profit and gentrification. Funds like this, though, typically require investors to be certified with a proven portfolio and plenty of capital. So OpenInvest and Ellevest allow humble investors like myself to start small.
If you have any suggestions for high-impact banks and investment firms, please share in the comments! Would love to hear from you and about more financial institutions doing good.