Alastair Constance is founder of online currency and foreign exchange service, Ethical Currency.
- How would you rate your own personal finances for goodness, on a scale of 1 to 10? Why?
I’m afraid to say that I am probably a 6 out of 10. Although I use Ethical Currency for international currency payments and receipts, I have been waiting for Triodos to launch their personal account offering to shift my banking away from the ‘Big Four’ high street banks. I am currently with RBS so I suppose one could argue that I’m generating value for UK taxpayers, but I think we all know they’re not giving back anywhere near as much as they’ve taken from us.
My share dealing account is with TD Waterhouse and again, there is no ‘goodness’ to claim on that front. I do actively avoid tobacco, arms and pharmaceutical companies along with other firms that have a negative impact on the world.
I think the issue facing consumers is the lack of choice when it comes to positive and ‘good’ alternatives to the usual financial firms who are purely profit-driven. We need more alternatives covering a broader section of the financial consumer landscape. Triodos’s new personal account will be a real shift in choice for consumers and I hope to see more firms generating a positive social feedback loop in future.
2. What bit of your finances would you most like to change for the better?
I would most like to bank with Triodos bank for my day-to-day banking. I have some experience running charity finances and we switched from Coop Bank to Triodos. They offer a fantastic service; their online offering is very good and I am a big fan of their ethos and practice.
I would also like to find an ethical share dealing account. I would be happy to pay a premium on my share dealing if that went to global poverty eradication, similar to the Robin Hood Tax that Ethical Currency generates. Even better if, like Ethical Currency, they take the Robin Hood tax out of their own profits and charges without costing me anymore. I’ve yet to find a share dealing platform that accesses the major international exchanges and also pays a Robin Hood Tax.
Beyond day-to-day banking, international currency payments and the odd share transaction, I don’t have many other financial areas in which I transact. Well, I do like crypto currencies.
I sleep better knowing that I’m being socially conscious with my money.
3. Which provider are you most impressed by? Why?
Triodos for banking and Ethical Currency for international currency receipts and payments. Their product offering beats the high street banks in terms of capability and cost so I actually save money using them. In addition I sleep better knowing that I’m being socially conscious with my money.
4. Which provider would you like to see hoisted by their own petard? Why?
Well, all of the big banks for starters. They’re slow, expensive, arrogant and most notably, flagrantly dishonest and taxpayer-subsidised. I think new technology around blockchain-based payments and decentralised money is the most exciting challenge to the hegemony of central bank-printed money and the crooked distribution mechanism of debt-backed money into society through commercial banks. It is a racket that I hope to see fundamentally changed in my lifetime.
5. Do you think you have lost out financially by making sustainable choices?
No, the opposite. I save money by making sustainable and conscientious decisions about how I use, store, invest and move my money. The sustainable and informed choices aren’t more expensive, slower or worse, they are often technologically better, as good or better in terms of returns and cost-effective.
6. What personal finance headline would you most like to read in the next year, and why?
‘Big four banks bust! No taxpayer bailouts this time as fintech and smaller financial firms with a heart step in to seize the crown!’