A finance group with the reputation of prioritising social responsibility has introduced a step into its processes for new customers, to help make it easier for them to act in accordance with their principles.
Astute Ability Finance will now give new customers the choice of obtaining finance from customer-owned and socially responsible lenders.
Principal and founder, Mhairi MacLeod explained, “As a brokerage with corporate social responsibility (CSR) at its heart and soul, all our new mortgage customers will be asked whether a mortgage solution from a socially responsible bank is important to them and if so, we will find options that match their own values.”
MacLeod considers herself a “strong advocate” for CSR to be better promoted in the financial services sector, especially as it appeals to Generation Z, the estimated 4.5 million Australians born between 1995 and 2009 who often passionately champion social causes.
She said, “Generation Z cares deeply about sustainability, society and preserving the planet, and will certainly think twice about taking a cheap deal if the company behind it still dumps its plastic into the ocean.”
MacLeod has expressed pleasure that two Australian banks, Bank Australia and Teachers Mutual Bank Limited, now have their mortgage and deposit products Certified Responsible Investment by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA), the industry body representing responsible, ethical and impact investors across Australia and New Zealand.
“Bank Australia's deposit and mortgage products are socially and environmentally responsible, and still competitive relative to the major banks,” she said.
“The bank invests 4.0% of its after-tax profits in projects with a positive social and environmental impact and…screens potential loans and investments for negative social and environmental effects, for example, excluding loans to the fossil fuel industry.
“Teachers Mutual Bank also operates under distinctive socially responsible strategies, standards and practices," she added.
“The money you borrow for your mortgage does not come from damaging industries. The bank has specific social responsibility exclusion criteria in relation to the provision of credit. They also apply strict social responsibility criteria when it comes to investing and lending their members’ money.”
ME Bank is also on the “CSR bandwagon”, refusing to invest in fossil fuels, the coal or arms trade, or tobacco industry, among others.
“Everyone right now finds themselves needing to be more responsible. The results of the royal commission mean we’re first and foremost looking for good customer outcomes, and we have to start looking at corporate social responsibility on all levels,” MacLeod concluded.