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Is ethical banking a generational thing?

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I’ve been writing and thinking a lot about ESG – Environment, Sustainability and Governance – as it’s the theme of my next book. Then up popped a headline:

Prince Harry and Meghan are joining Ethic, a fintech asset manager in the fast-growing environmental, social and governance space,

“My husband has been saying for years, ‘Gosh, don’t you wish there was a place where if your values were aligned like this, you could put your money to that same sort of thing?’” Meghan said … Harry and Meghan said they hoped that their involvement would help democratize investing, making people — especially younger people — more deliberate in their choices and conscious of investing in sustainable companies. “You already have the younger generation voting with their dollars and their pounds, you know, all over the world when it comes to brands they select and choose from,” Harry said, suggesting it was a natural extension to do the same with investments.

I see an alignment between this view of the world, the new generations, digitalisation and finance. Ethical banking is a thing, but it’s more than that. It’s the combination of the transparency of the network and the ability to combine finance and technology – FinTech – that enables us to use money to do better things for society and the planet.

I see this with Triodos and Rabobank in the Netherlands, Ålandsbanken in Finland, Teachers Mutual in Australia and Ant Group in China … but it’s too few and far between. The ESG, digital and finance agenda are merging and melding fast, and too few companies are aware of or keeping up with this space. This is what Ethic is tapping into.

Ethic was founded in 2015 and has tripled assets under management in the past year … Ethic runs screens on companies and sectors based on social responsibility criteria, including racial justice, climate and labor issues. Its user interface has more in common with the likes of Robinhood than traditional financial sites.

The key thing to understand here is that ESG is not some tree-hugging, ephemeral, loss-making, charitable thing. It’s a real thing that most generations, particularly younger generations, believe in with their heads, hearts and wallets. It’s the same as financial inclusion. Someone asked me years ago: When will banks stop seeing financial inclusion as charity? The same is true of ESG and DeFi.

In fact, another thing amused me the other day when I saw that Jamie Dimon once again said that bitcoin was useless but, because his clients believe it’s useful, they’ll trade it.

That’s practical but continues Jamie Dimon’s rant against changing the world of money. Maybe he’s getting old … or maybe he’s just a megabanker protecting his turf.

Either way, there is a clear movement driven by digitalisation and the transparency that the network provides, which is democratising news, money and life. It’s not just a GenZ or Millennial thing. It’s a movement that is redefining the rules of news, money and life. You can either follow the movement or resist it but, in general, resistance is futile.

 

 

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Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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