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Better Banking

Switching your current and savings accounts can be a massive contribution to creating a better world. This is because banks sit at the heart of the global economy, with their decisions affecting everything within it.

If your bank invests in fossil fuels; has anti-social finance issues or resides in a tax haven it’s probably not contributing as positively as you’d like to the world around it.

Would you prefer a bank or building society who contributed more positively?

Ethical Consumer Research Association (ECRA) have comprehensive guides on banks to avoid and banks to join for both current accounts and savings accounts.

Although the Score Tables on the linked pages are only available for subscribers, below the ‘Subscribe & Sign In’ section is a vast amount of detail on which options are best and the reasons why. Have a read through on each and see if you feel you might want to switch your own accounts as a result.

In Summary:

Who to Avoid?

Current Accounts

ECRA cite HSBC (HSBC & First Direct), Barclays and JPMorgan (Chase) as massive financiers of fossil fuels as well as being linked to many human rights abuses. Lloyds Banking Group (Lloyds, Halifax & Bank of Scotland), Natwest Group (Natwest, RBS, Coutts & Ulster Bank) and Santander (Santander & Cater Allen) have also been cited for criticism of multiple unethical investments. It is recommended to avoid all of these brands

Savings Accounts

Again it’s HSBC (including First Direct) and Barclays who ECRA cite to avoid above all others. Coutts, NatWest, RBS, Ulster, Carter Allen, Santander, Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Bank of Scotland, Birmingham Midshires, Halifax, Lloyds, Scottish Widows all have a lowly Ethiscore of 5 or less.

Who to Switch To?

Current Accounts

Triodos Bank are recommended as the best option by ECRA. It should be noted that their current account costs £3 per month, so other options recommended to consider if you don’t want to pay a fee are Nationwide Building Society, Cumberland Building Society and Co-operative Bank.

Savings Accounts

Any savings account provided by a building society or credit union is recommended by ECRA, with Charity Bank, Ecology Building Society (both 15.5 out of 20) and Triodos Bank (14.5) cited as the top options for transparent and/or ethical lending policies.

How to Switch?

Switching accounts is a quick and easy process nowadays, taking just seven working days thanks to Government regulation that was brought in to reduce monopoly in the banking sector. Simply apply to the new bank, which will undertake its normal account-opening procedures. This will include providing you with a ‘Current Account Switch Agreement’ form and a ‘Current Account Closure Instruction’ form for you to complete. You can choose the specific switch date to best suit you. On that date your new bank will move your incoming and outgoing payments, transfer any money to your new account and close your old account.

All of the information on this page citing ECRA is correct as of their Jan/Feb 2023 issue of Ethical Consumer Magazine. Keep up to date with the very latest from Ethical Consumer via my offer of two free months here.

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