Consumers demand banks invest in positive change

Written by Lori Campbell on 22nd Mar 2023

The cost-of-living and climate crises have led consumers to demand positive long-term change to the current financial system, new research shows.

The poll by Triodos Bank UK – a Good With Money ‘Good Egg’ firm – found that nearly three quarters of Brits (73 per cent) believe we need to collectively invest in lasting solutions to the issues the world is facing. This includes investing in renewable energy to bring down energy costs and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

However, as household bills rise, many people feel the agency they have over their money has waned. Two-thirds (65 per cent) say they worry that cost-of-living increases have impacted their ability to use their money for positive change.

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No to fossil fuels

The majority (75 per cent) of consumers say they are frustrated that big banks continue to make huge profits despite cost of living increases.

It comes after recent research by ShareAction found that since the landmark Paris Climate Agreement was struck, the Big Five UK high street banks have collectively funnelled $367.6 billion (£311.3 billion) towards the fossil fuel sector, and $141 billion (£120 billion) towards companies at the forefront of oil and gas expansion.

Amid spiralling household costs, more than half of people (54 per cent) polled by Triodos say they want banks to do more to invest in long-term sustainable change. This is particularly true for younger people, with 64 per cent of those aged 18-34 saying the wider situation of the past 12 months has made them think more critically about using their own savings and investments to drive positive impact.

Roger Hattam, Director of Retail Banking at Triodos Bank UK: “There is a striking disconnect for UK consumers between the rising cost of living and decisions being made by banks on what they choose to finance. Our biggest high street banks continue to funnel billions into the fossil fuel sector, when it is precisely our dependence on fossil fuels that is driving up our bills, and not to mention causing immeasurable harm to the planet.”

‘Those who can invest for good, should’

Almost two-thirds of people (64 per cent) say those that can afford to invest should choose sustainable investments that help bring about positive change for everyone. Meanwhile, 65 per cent say individual investors have a responsibility to ensure their money is being used for good, instead of funding harmful practices such as fossil fuels.

Richard Curtis, filmmaker, activist and founder of Make My Money Matter, said: “It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of the climate crisis, but the reality is that through our pensions, investments and banking choices we all have extraordinary power to build a better world. And as this new research shows, UK citizens increasingly want to use this power to make sure their money is tackling the climate crisis, not making it worse.

“Banks and pension funds must respond to this growing movement to make our money matter by transitioning away from investments which are damaging for both people and planet, as well as being unpopular with their customers. Instead it’s time to focus on new investments which build a better future for us all.”

Power of collective individual action

Misconceptions about not being able to save enough to make a positive impact may be holding many people back from making ethical and sustainable choices with their money.

Six in 10 people (61%) believe that they don’t have enough savings or investments for their impact to make a difference, while more than half (56%) think you have to be rich to be able to make a positive impact with your money.

Mr Hattam added: “The prevalent myth that you have to be very wealthy to make a difference with your money couldn’t be further from the truth. Even a small amount in an ISA with a sustainable provider reroutes money from harmful sectors into positive ones, and sends a powerful message to the wider finance industry that enough is enough. It’s through collective action that putting your money into an ISA with a sustainable bank supports a wider ecosystem of green finance that brings about real change.”

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