A better future for finance

The Global Alliance for Banking on Values organised a provocative event, aimed to describe what a more resilient, diverse and sustainable financial future might look like.

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Some of the world’s most powerful people and most influential organisations convene at the IMF and World Bank annual meeting to try and address the planet’s weightiest economic issues.

Despite being minnows relative to the world’s largest financial institutions, the members of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) use this opportunity to influence the debate about where the banking industry goes next. The growing network of 25 member banks argued at events and meetings through a week in Washington DC in October for a transformation to a more diverse, transparent and sustainable banking industry.

Transforming the banking industry
In particular, the GABV and Georgetown University hosted A Better Future for Finance, a provocative event which aimed to describe what a more resilient, diverse and sustainable financial future might look like. Students and guests wrestled with a positive vision for the banking sector, and what it would take to get there. They were joined by an online audience, including practitioners and the public from Lima to Winnipeg, who put questions to CEOs and leading lights in the sustainable banking movement.

John Fullerton, founder and president of Capital Institute and former senior JP Morgan executive, knows more than most about how profoundly the mainstream banking industry has changed in recent years. Arguing for a transformation to a more just, regenerative and sustainable economic system he highlighted how far the bank and the sector he worked in formerly had shifted from an approach that was built on values to one that maximises profit above all else.

From niche to necessity
Other speakers made the business case for sustainable banking. Minnesota-based Sunrise Community Banks’ CEO, David Reiling described how mission focus and innovation in banking are two strands of the same DNA. He challenged the audience and the industry to have sufficient ambition to deliver long-term change.

Others, including Peter Blom, GABV chair and CEO of Triodos Bank suggested values-based banking’s time has come. On the day the GABV published research showing values-based banks perform better than the world’s biggest banks against a range of key financial measures. ‘Values-based banking used to be a niche. Now it’s a necessity,’ he said.

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