Marloes Nicholls, Move Your Money UK

Chances are you’re not happy with your bank. In a recent poll half of all adults were ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘extremely dissatisfied’ with their bank, and 60% of British adults agree that the economic crisis has led them to trust high street banks less.

There’s no wonder why: events and revelations during Bankers’ bonus season this February made it clear that the banking system continues to work for the pockets of few at the expense of wider society. Bonus culture persists (particularly in the riskier investment branches of banks, whose activities contributed most to the financial crisis), tax avoidance continues, small businesses are struggling to access credit (although not so for those large beasts often with records of environmental and human rights abuses), and customer service is pitiful.

This month the Move Your Money UK campaign highlights the opportunity for positive change. We are calling on people to collectively move their money to local, mutual and ethical financial institutions. In doing so we hope to build on the growth of the financial sector in the UK that works for the benefit of people, communities and the environment.

Consumer pressure is essential to make the UK banking system better. As it stands, the major high street banks – Barclays, Lloyds TSB, RBS, HSBC and Santander – don’t need to respond to customer wishes because they dominate the market and people are reluctant to move their money; the average marriage ends more quickly than the average consumer’s relationship with their bank!  The banks won’t change of their own accord, and the politicians and regulators have shown that we can’t rely on them. The wonderful fact, though, is that by moving your money YOU can directly help to build a banking system that you can trust; that is useful and secure, as well as economically, socially and environmentally fit for purpose.

There is a diverse range of ethical and socially useful banks, including credit unions, building societies, banks with strong ethical commitments and community development finance institutions. The Cooperative Bank and several of the larger building societies, such as Nationwide, have branches across the UK and offer the same services as any High Street bank. If you’re keen to keep your money in the local area or are in need of a reasonably priced loan, it’s worth looking up your local credit union. If you’ve got some savings, why not use your new ISA allowance this April by opening an account with a bank that is committed to caring for the environment, such as Triodos or Ecology Building Society?

The sector is flourishing. The balance sheets of ethical banks have grown significantly since the financial crisis, and savings in credit unions increased by 300% over the last decade. Since the campaign launch just a few weeks ago too, there has been a dramatic increase in interest in the sector; credit unions are receiving many more calls, and the number of website hits for ethical banks has rocketed!

As part of MYM month we’ll be launching a new page on our website about ethical ISAs, starting educational school projects, co-launching a switching tool-kit for students unions with NUS, supporting events at Credit Unions around the country and working with Parliament. You can keep up to date on Facebook and Twitter @MoveYourMoneyUK. If you want to get involved with the campaign, there’s lots of ideas on our website.

Move Your Money month is your chance to join in and make a difference. Now is the time to move what you can, whether it’s your current account, some savings, a loan or encouraging a friend or family member. Pledge to move your money now!