Most of us try to do the right things in life.

From a young age we’re taught to treat people and the environment with respect, being conscious of the impact our actions have on the world around us. We’re often told of the importance of minimising single-use plastics or buying fair-trade products and, for some, these can be really important ways to spend our money consciously.

While we can spend our money on things that resonate with our personal values and the type of world we want to see in the future, we also need to consider the impact that the banks we support are having. As a conscious consumer, sometimes we can forget one simple thing that can make a bigger difference in this world than most of our other monetary choices – our bank.

From the factory our shoes were made in, to the houses we want to buy and the energy that powers them. Everything in this world costs money. But where does this money come from? Most finance tends to come from banks, and other financial institutions. And it’s your choice of financial institution that actually influences where that money goes.

Sometimes we can feel as though we don’t have the power to change things, that we are part of a larger system and people in positions of power behave in a way that conflicts with our own values and principles. As individuals, we can make a difference.

Where we choose to put our money matters. And as Liza Minnelli so eloquently puts it – money makes the world go round.

Most of us probably still have the same bank account we had as a kid. There seems to be this combination of taboo and apathy that makes talking about money, frankly, a bit awkward. However, it shouldn’t be and it’s a conversation that we should have more openly. We have choice and agency when it comes to where we bank and finding an institution that aligns with our values and principles is really important.

There’s something tragic and ironic as a conscious consumer when we spend so much effort to live a more sustainable life only to have our bank, and inadvertently our money, undo all our hard work by funding, for example, a battery hen farm. It’s a moral contradiction that is very real and needs our attention.

To illustrate this point more clearly, a recent survey by the Lowy Institute found that roughly 6 in 10 Australians believe climate change is a very serious issue that needs to be dealt with. Despite this majority opinion, Australian banks have lent more than $44B to the fossil fuel industry since the 2015 Paris Agreement (to limit global warming to 1.5C), with more than $8.9B coming in 2020 alone. Overlay the fact that the four major banks in Australia hold more than 80% market share and we can immediately see that there’s a strong moral contradiction at play.

As we become more aware of the issues that are important to us it’s important to ask the question – is the money in my bank contributing to the problem or helping to solve it?

Banks can create a lot of good, but they can also create a lot of bad. For example, they can use their customer’s money (our money) and the interest paid to them on loans to help move young people with disabilities out of nursing homes and into purpose-built disability accommodation. And equally, they can just as easily provide funding to gambling companies to open new facilities.

There are plenty of examples on both sides and it can be complicated and difficult to find out what your institutions is doing (and it’s most likely a combination of both). But we do have the power to ask. There are also websites like and that provide information that can assist in our decision-making.

We all need to realise the responsibility and opportunity that we have as customers of these large financial institutions. They need our money and our loyalty to operate at the scale they desire. We can use our power as customers to hold them to account and to drive change that positively effects people and the environment.

If there’s one thought to leave you with, it’s that what you choose to do with your money will have an impact on what the world looks like in 20-years. Where are you going to put your money?


Jack Thompson is a Banking and Finance Oath Young Ambassador. If you’re interested in taking the Oath visit