Ethical Banking

Ethical Banking

In an era marked by growing environmental consciousness and social responsibility, ethical banking has emerged as a promising alternative to traditional banking. The concept revolves around aligning financial decisions with values such as sustainability, social impact, and environmental conservation.

In this article, let’s pore over the mechanics of ethical banking, explore how to find the best ethical bank in Australia, and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of this approach.

What is Ethical Banking?

Ethical banking, often referred to as green banking or sustainable banking, involves financial institutions incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations into their operations and investment decisions. These banks prioritise the allocation of funds to projects and businesses that promote positive societal and environmental outcomes. This can range from financing renewable energy initiatives to supporting community development projects.

Understanding Ethical Banking

Investment Screening

Ethical banks apply rigorous screening processes to ensure that the companies they invest in align with their ESG values. This involves scrutinising factors such as carbon footprint, labour practices, and community engagement.


Ethical banks emphasise transparency in their operations. They disclose information about their investment portfolios, allowing customers to make educated decisions about where their money is being invested.

Sustainable Lending

Ethical banks offer loans and credit to projects and businesses that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. This might include supporting green startups, eco-friendly construction projects, and affordable housing initiatives.

Community Development

These banks often have a strong focus on community development, directing a portion of their profits towards social and environmental causes.

Finding the Best Ethical Bank in Australia

Selecting the perfect ethical bank in Australia may demand some effort, but by conscientiously adhering to the following steps, the eventual benefits could prove invaluable. 

Begin by researching ethical banks in Australia. Look for banks that are certified by recognised ESG standards or organisations. Examples include the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) and B Corp certification, which for Australia is handled by B Lab Australia and New Zealand. Compare the account offerings, fees, and services provided by different ethical banks. Ensure that the bank offers the types of accounts you need for your financial goals.

As ESG is a critical component of an ethical banking system, study the preferred bank’s ESG policies and reports. Understand their investment criteria and the sectors they support. Look for transparency in how they communicate their impact. Reviews from current customers can help you gain insights into their experiences with the bank’s services and customer support. Consider the bank’s accessibility through online banking, mobile apps, and physical branches if needed.

While prioritising ethics, don’t overlook financial stability. Ensure that the bank is financially sound and capable of safeguarding your deposits.

Five Prominent Australian Ethical Banks 

Given the above tips on finding your ideal ethical bank, you may still be nonplussed as to which fits the bill. When it comes to ethical banking in Australia, several institutions stand out for their commitment to sustainability, social responsibility, and transparency. Let’s take a closer look at five prominent ethical banks that you might consider for your financial needs.

Bank Australia

Bank Australia is a leading ethical bank that has been dedicated to responsible banking for over 60 years. As a certified B Corp and a member of the GABV, Bank Australia places a strong emphasis on supporting projects that contribute to positive social and environmental outcomes. They offer a range of ethical banking products, including transaction accounts, savings accounts, and loans.

Bank Australia is known for its transparent reporting on where customer funds are invested, allowing clients to see the direct impact of their banking choices. The bank’s investment programme focuses on fields such as non-profits and renewable energy sources.

Australian Ethical Investment

Australian Ethical Investment (AEI) is a pioneer in ethical investing and banking. They focus on managing investments and banking services in alignment with ESG principles. Their banking products include savings accounts, term deposits, and superannuation options. Australian Ethical Investment is known for its stringent investment screening process, ensuring that your money is used to support companies and projects that meet their sustainability and ethical criteria.

Beyond Bank Australia

Beyond Bank Australia is another notable player in the ethical banking landscape, with origins as a credit union. As a B Corp-certified bank, Beyond Bank Australia channels its profits into community projects and initiatives. They offer a variety of banking solutions, including transaction and savings accounts, loans, and credit cards – their home loan framework was also overhauled for digital transformation, with NextGen’s ApplyOnline platform as a partner system.

Beyond Bank Australia’s commitment to social and environmental responsibility is reflected in its support for causes such as education, health, and environmental conservation. Such dedication has earned the bank a Forbes recognition as one of the world’s best banks for 2023, plus eight straight years as CANSTAR’s Customer Owned Bank of the Year in the Digital Banking category and a 2023 award for Customer Owned Bank of the Year in the Most Satisfied Customers category.

Community First Credit Union

Community First Credit Union is a member-owned cooperative that prioritises community well-being and sustainability, first operating in 1959 as the Sydney Water Board Officers Credit Union Co-Op. While not a traditional bank, it offers ethical banking options to its members.

Community First provides a range of financial services, including banking, loans, insurance, and financial advice; the loan component, in particular, allows flexible payments for people looking to buy hybrids or EVs. Being customer-owned, it places a strong emphasis on delivering value to its members and contributing positively to the communities it serves.

Future Super

Future Super is a superannuation fund that combines ethical investing with retirement savings. While not a traditional bank, it’s worth mentioning due to its significant impact on ethical finance. Future Super offers a fossil fuel-free investment portfolio and supports industries and projects that align with their clean energy and sustainability goals. This option is particularly appealing for those looking to align their long-term retirement savings with their ethical values.

Pros and Cons

With the above material on mechanics of ethical banking and some notable banks featured, let’s put ethical banking on the scales.


Managing finances through ethical banking practices helps contribute to positive environmental and social changes, supporting initiatives that align with your values, providing a sense of satisfaction and purpose. Your deposits and investments can act as a vote of confidence for sustainable practices, influencing the financial industry to shift towards responsible behaviour. Ethical banks will be transparent about their operations and investments.


While ethical banks may be wonderful places to invest your money in, they might have fewer physical branches and ATMs compared to larger traditional banks, and offer a narrower range of financial products.

Some investments in an ethical bank could offer slightly lower returns. You may have to study more about the financial markets to further comprehend the screening processes and criteria for ethical investments.


Ethical banking allows you to use your financial resources to support positive changes in society and the environment. By choosing an ethical bank that resonates with your values, you can create a ripple effect that influences the financial industry towards more responsible practices. As the demand for ethical banking grows, these institutions are challenged to innovate and provide competitive services while maintaining their commitment to sustainability.

DISCLAIMER:  This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute official financial advice, nor endorses or disparages ethical banking as a financial management practice. 2 Ezi has no relationships with any ethical bank mentioned in the article. Please consult a financial advisor knowledgeable in ethical banking services for your solutions.

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