Australian banks have been under intense scrutiny this last month after various scandals called into question the culture of the industry. The finance industry seems rife with corruption and unfair practices. But, the good news, is with every disruption, opportunity is born. And a disruption like this could actually be a blessing for the sector.
In order to regain trust and build an economy based on values, integrity and honesty, the financial sector needs to deeply re-evaluate their role and perhaps change their culture to one of stewardship where they are actually taking care of people’s money for the benefit of all, rather than lining their own pockets.
However, it's also important to remember,that these big corporations are actually owned by the people as shareholders. So, where is the source of this culture in finance coming from? Ultimately, greed for more seems to be driving it. I believe that these times are also a calling for all of us to explore our own relationships to money. We all have the opportunity right now to rebuild an economy based on values and heart (inclusion, sustainability, justice, integrity, ethics, etc.)
Unfortunately, the current culture around finance seems to be all about profit above all else. However there are other areas that are just as important, such as people and planet. In fact there is a growing movement of businesses that consider a triple bottom line of Profit, People & Planet. They are known as Benefit Corporations. In addition to tracking financial performance, they also measure and track performance with regards to their impact on community and planet.
An example of this is The Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV). GABV is a network of banking leaders from around the world committed to advancing positive change in the banking sector. 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. They aim to ensure that banking is a healthy and productive system of society and want to develop a positive, viable alternative to the current banking system.
By changing finance are we able to finance change. Increasingly, people are becoming aware of the interdependence of the real economy, social cohesion and our natural eco-system, something values-based bankers have long understood. Knowing that people want to support positive change in society, we have an opportunity to demonstrate a healthy transformation of the finance sector, contribute to societal solutions, and become a reference point for others along the way.
Check out their website to see whether your bank is a member - http://www.gabv.org/the-community/find-members