Don’t choose between interest rates, ethics and green credentials, go for an all-round current account, says The Observer

17 September 2007
The Observer has encouraged current account customers to put their money where their morals are, by investing it with banks that are both green and ethical, whilst still getting a good return on interest rates.

It warns customers against being blinded by a bank’s green credentials without checking out their ethical policies too; while they might offer paperless banking and online bank statements, this does not necessarily mean that their money will not be used for unethical investments.

Most high street banks practice green banking to some extent, explains Simon Propper, managing director of corporate responsibility consultancy Context. “But their most important issue is the climate-change impact of the money they invest and lend - and on this they are rather quiet.”

However, the Co-operative Bank and its online spin-off, Smile, ask the opinions of their customers every year what they think they should invest in whilst still offering a competitive interest rate, The Observer found, and customers can rest assured that their money is not being used to finance human rights abuses, to test cosmetics on animals or damage the environment.

As The Observer also notes, the more ethical a bank account is, the less interest is likely to be applied, but there is a growing competitive market for green banking and the moral returns add up. However, Lisa Taylor from moneyfacts.co.uk reminds customers to compare bank accounts before jumping in, because “Unless the company as a whole has ethical foundations, it can be more of a PR spin than a true green product.”

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