Choosing a bank for Good

When setting up Harvey we learnt there are banks and there are Good banks. We've always been aware of and loved Bendigo Bank, but they're not the only one and some are taking ethical banking to another level.

June 2, 2019

There are banks and there are Good banks

When setting up Harvey we learnt there are banks and there are Good banks. We've always been aware of and loved Bendigo Bank, but they're not the only one and some are taking ethical banking to another level.

I'm not talking about banks that aren't evil, which the royal commission has uncovered, I'm talking about banks that are actively making the world better.

You've probably seen Bank Australia's campaign leading with their ethical banking approach.

And it's paying off. We spoke to their local branch Manager and they getting new customers 2X the normal rate!

In Australia, the definition of ethical banking tends to skew towards banks and institutions that do not invest, trade in, or have exposure to any of the following:

Fossil fuels and coal mining (or mining of precious minerals and other materials)

  • Weapons (guns or other arms)
  • Tobacco
  • Deforestation of the environment
  • Human exploitation or human rights abuses
  • Gambling
  • Pornography or sex slave trade
  • Animal cruelty


We setup Harvey for Good

So when picking business bank for Harvey there wasn't any choice, we'd go for a 'good' bank.

Awesome! Pick a bank, tick that off the list. I wish :(

Now, while we only consider three banks, Bank Australia, Bendigo and Beyond Bank (because we apparently like the letter B) mostly because we were busy. But we still had to compare and make a decision. And decisions are hard. (There are many other 'good' banks)

Step 1: What was most important to us

Well, we're simple, a low cost, zero-equity, zero-finance, low volume business only needs the basics

  • Then we wanted it to be 'good'
  • Internet banking and an app that doesn't suck
  • Reasonable rates, not the cheapest but not wasting money

Step 2: Confusion

I honestly wasn't sure where to start, after looking at their websites and realising they all had similar account types, fees and services, I went to their apps. Surely one of these places will have a terrible internet banking experience and I can write the off the list. Nope, all were basically rated the same on the relevant app stores.

Step 3: Google "Ethical banks compared"

Ok ok, I got this. Defer all decision making responsibility to a website. Enter stage left: Dr. Google. And instantly exit stage right.
This search result captures the vibe perfectly. "Wading into the ethical banking quagmire"...

After 4 hrs I discovered this space is all so new and confusing even Google can't save you. Comparison website only compare on fees and 'features' and all banks are basically the same on that stuff. The articles I found basically said "you need need to really decide what's important to you and research each bank to understand how they invest, how they operate, and .... ugh, I ran out of time.

Step 4: Ask friends

If I ask a few mates who're smart, have done their research and are conscious humans and I'll basically just copy them. Ugh. Again, almost everyone said their ethical bank was great but they were considering switching, or they didn't know if it was good or not. Or the app sucked, but maybe that was because they were used to their old bank.

Step 5: Last ditch effort - B-Corp Banks

It's been about 2 weeks now, and I've spent probably 10 hours researching this. It's been two weeks since our first clients have been asking for bank details to pay their first invoices (we have amazing clients that chase us to pay us #muchlove) and we kept delaying.

I'm not sure why I didn't do this at the start, but I asked Mindy at B-Lab who they consider to be ethical and that impact your B-Corp score. Beyond & Australia were full points, Bendigo was half points! (We'll be applying to be a B-Corporation when we can, and they consider all kinds of things to evaluate if you're a good company, basically)

Needing some filtering we cut Bendigo out. Which (weirdly) made me super sad, I love their brand and everything they do, but c'mon they're just a bank hold yourself together man.

The whole time we'd been talking about walking past the HQ of Bank Australia. Plus advertising works. I also love their logo and website. So I called and they said we could head into any branch, any time and setup an account (with minimal ID and no printed paperwork) THAT DAY. (Others said it would take days)

Step 6: We have a bank account

I thought this whole process would take maybe 2 hrs, all done online, be super simple to compare and be totally confident in my choice. At the end of the day all three (and others) are great, their apps, products and rates are all super similar. I don't know exactly what they do ethically, or if they do more or less good stuff than Beyond or ME or Bendigo.

So I'm not sure they're the 'ideal' bank for us, but we made a decision! And they're great.

The service and overall experience with our Bank Aust rep (and people on the phone) was amazing. It felt like nothing I've experienced at a bank. They were human, personable, took time, answered my weird questions, didn't force us to follow some bizarre process, jumped around, took paperwork off our hands so we could rush to a meeting. And they were just lovely, like nice, kind people.

It was weird. Bank staff are supposed to be awkward, robotic, say weird words and confuse you.

No post purchase dissonance

(That feeling you have after you buy something and regret it minutes or days later)
It's been a couple of weeks, setting up, their app, people paid us and money arrived in our account and whatever else a bank does. It's all been fine. I don't regret what we did and business moves forward. I feel good we made this "decision" albeit it completely outsourced.

They just sent an email that made me happy

In addition, when our customers take out a construction loan, we protect an equivalent amount of land in our Conservation Reserve.

^ Seriously like what the. (Emoji heart)

Check it here:

The future is Good

It's super exciting that more consumers and businesses are switching to ethical banks. The big banks will become less evil, maybe even neutral, and new Good financial organisations will rise up and make a real impact.

The importance of picking an ethical bank can't be understated, if a bank funds Bad organisations those organisations can thrive, and makes it harder for Good organisations to rise. If Good businesses give preference, better rates and service through funding it will make a huge impact.

It doesn't stop at banks, up next is Superannuation.

Possibly the most boring thing in the universe, but the thing that funds most of Australia's economy and growth...

So we'll be considering who we move our Super to next.

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