Cost of living crisis has accelerated frustrations with ‘big’ banks – new Triodos Bank research reveals strong interest in using money for good

by | Mar 22, 2023

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New research has been released today from Triodos Bank, a leader in sustainable banking, showing that the cost of living crisis has accelerated people’s frustration with big banks making huge profits, leading them to demand the financial sector to focus more on investing in long-term positive impact.

Rising energy bills and living costs have accelerated people’s dissatisfaction with the status quo of the financial system, leading them to demand positive long-term change, reveals new research from Triodos Bank UK.

Nearly three quarters of the UK public (73%) believe we need to collectively invest in long-term solutions to the issues the world is facing – such as investing in renewable energy to bring down energy costs and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

 
 

This demand is being driven by three quarters of people (75%) saying they are frustrated that big banks continue to make huge profits despite cost of living increases. For those over the age of 55, this rises to 81% – implying that the older generations may be even more concerned.

In light of rising household costs, over half of people (54%) want banks to do more to invest in long-term sustainable change, while 53% say being more careful with their money makes them think more critically about how it is being used by their bank. 

Roger Hattam, Director of Retail Banking at Triodos Bank UK: “There is a striking disconnect for UK consumers between the rising cost of living and decisions being made by banks on what they choose to finance. Our biggest high street banks continue to funnel billions into the fossil fuel sector, when it is precisely our dependence on fossil fuels that is driving up our bills, and not to mention causing immeasurable harm to the planet.”

 
 

This is particularly stark in the minds of younger people, with 64% of those aged 18-34 saying the wider situation of the past 12 months has made them think more critically about using their own savings and investments to drive positive impact.  

Cost of living and sustainable finance

As household bills rise, many people admit to feeling that the agency they have over their money has waned. Two-thirds (65%) say they worry that cost of living increases have had an impact on their ability to use their money for positive change, while more than half (54%) admit that making sustainable choices with their money has taken a back seat to prioritising immediate rising costs.

 
 

However, ahead of ISA season, almost two-thirds of people (64%) say those that can afford to invest should choose sustainable investments that help bring about positive change for everyone. Meanwhile, 65% say individual investors have a responsibility to ensure their money is being used for good, instead of funding harmful practices such as fossil fuels.

For the younger generation, aged 18-34 – that has come of age under the shadow of the climate crisis – this attitude is even more prevalent. Seven in 10 (69%) of this age group say they want their money to help fund projects and companies that only work in sustainable sectors, while more than half (56%) say they have become more interested in ESG over the past year. Six in 10 (60%) say they don’t want their bank to back fossil fuels.

Richard Curtis(pictured), filmmaker, activist and founder of Make My Money Matter, said: “It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of the climate crisis, but the reality is that through our pensions, investments and banking choices we all have extraordinary power to build a better world. And as this new research shows, UK citizens increasingly want to use this power to make sure their money is tackling the climate crisis, not making it worse.

 
 

“Banks and pension funds must respond to this growing movement to make our money matter by transitioning away from  investments which are damaging for both people and planet, as well as being unpopular with their customers. Instead it’s time to focus on new investments which build a better future for us all.”

Power of collective individual action

Misconceptions about not being able to save enough to make a positive impact may be holding many people back from making ethical and sustainable choices with their money. 

 
 

Six in 10 people (61%) believe that they don’t have enough savings or investments for their impact to make a difference, while more than half (56%) think you have to be rich to be able to make a positive impact with your money.

Roger Hattam, Director of Retail Banking at Triodos Bank UK, continued: “The prevalent myth that you have to be very wealthy to make a difference with your money couldn’t be further from the truth. Even a small amount in an ISA with a sustainable provider reroutes money from harmful sectors into positive ones, and sends a powerful message to the wider finance industry that enough is enough. It’s through collective action that putting your money into an ISA with a sustainable bank supports a wider ecosystem of green finance that brings about real change.”

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