As a Socially Responsible Financial Advisor, I help my clients to evaluate their current investment portfolios. Part of this is showing them what companies they’re currently investing in, and if those companies don’t align with their values, divesting from them and reinvesting in companies that do. However, this is only a piece of the puzzle.
Outside of investments, there are other ways that we “vote with our dollars”. From the businesses that we choose to shop at, to the type of car that we drive, these decisions have an impact. One more example of this is where we hold our savings accounts.
Over the last several years, there has been more and more coverage of problems with the banking system in the United States. It would be difficult to address them all here, so I will focus on the two things that have made me want to remove my assets from Bank of America.
The first is the funding of the Dakota Access Pipeline. I personally do not support the construction of this pipeline, and have expressed that in many ways to a number of groups that are working to move the project forward. Another act I am taking is removing my money from Bank of America. An argument we hear a lot when discussing Socially Responsible Investing is that it’s not really going to make a difference. Now, do I believe that by closing my checking account that I am going to hurt Bank of America’s bottom line? Of course not. However, if I am opposed to this pipeline, then why would I keep supporting a company that will profit off of its construction? I also know from my work in Socially Responsible Investing that there is power in numbers, and that when there are large amounts of money being divested, that has an impact.
The second reason that I have chosen to divest is the recent news of Bank of America’s decision to charge customers with low balances extra fees. By nature of being a private bank they need to generate a profit, and are doing so on the backs of those with the least amount of money. This is immediately after benefiting from a huge tax cut, that will save them billions of dollars.
There has been a huge backlash against Bank of America for making this decision, but there is one form of protest that made the biggest impact on me. Divest. If there are customers that don’t want to pay the fee, and they have the means to switch to another institution, then that is a fantastic option. And that is what I am doing. I am moving my assets to a local credit union.
Tomorrow I will explain why we support credit unions, and the benefits to having your assets in an account with them, rather than a large bank. Stay tuned!