Bielefeld. When customers choose to bank, increased account maintenance fees often play a role. Countless websites provide tips on how to change banks quickly, under the heading “Dealing with fees”. Others present the “best alternatives” to the (quote) “Abkassier banks”.
However, what rarely plays a role in the public debate are ethical issues. For those who invest their money, which finances sometimes questionable industries with: arms companies, nuclear and coal power and food speculation. The cheapest checking account is not always the best.
Deutsche Bank alone is said to have provided nearly 1.5 billion euros for defense companies from 2012 to 2015. At Commerzbank, it is 1.2 billion euros. This is shown by an investigation by the non-governmental organizations Facing Finance and Urgewald. Deutsche Postbank, ING-DiBa and Unicredit / Hypovereinsbank are also criticized for their questionable investments.
Trend: Change to the green bank
More and more bank customers are choosing to switch to a green bank. For example, GLS Bank from Bochum has set itself the task of lending exclusively to companies that operate sustainably. The fees are, however, significantly higher than the competition: 60 euros annual fee plus 3.80 euros per month account maintenance costs a checking account at GLS Bank.
The customers do not seem to mind. Many even pay deliberately on top of it: the annual contribution to the bank can be increased voluntarily. The number of customers has increased from 62,000 (2008) to 215,000 in the past ten years. And the bank from the Ruhr area is not alone: Triodos Bank, the Ethikbank and the Umweltbank also stand for clean handling of the money. They all invest exclusively in renewable energy, social projects or organic agriculture. The Triodos Bank even dispenses with the plastic credit card and offers an alternative made from renewable raw materials.
But between good and evil, as so often, there is also a middle ground. This role will be taken over by the Sparkassen, Volksbanken and Raiffeisenbanken and the Spardabanks. The website “Utopia” writes in a text about green banks: Here, the money is handled more responsibly than the big private banks. “However, ethical and environmental criteria play only a minor role in the financial activities of these banks, and your money is not safe from dubious investment and speculation,” according to the sustainability experts.