Moving My Money

29th February 2012 by

With all this talk around switching up your bank, it brought me back to my experience. I had it in my mind for some time to do it (think: 2 years!) but for some reason never got around to it. Sound familiar?

The story goes, I’ve been living in the UK for almost 5 years and when I landed, the first thing on my to-do list was to open a bank account. “Luckily”, my partner had an existing account with HSBC when he was young so I could tag along with his. It did the job and I never thought twice.

Fast forward to a few years later and I found myself working with Otesha. This was the real push I needed to:

a) ring up the Co-operative Bank and book an appointment with an advisor at their branch (which was open on a Saturday)


b) have a family talk about why we should switch over, what we wanted from a bank, and the pros and cons of the Co-Operative Bank.*

I should point out that my partner was quite nervous about switching over. He’d had his account for over 20 years and was concerned about a couple of issues dealing with his credit rating (does switching affect it?), fees involved in switching (are there any?), and how difficult it would be to switch banks.

The appointment with an advisor at the Co-operative answered all of our questions and put us at ease. We even chatted about his personal finance experience, working at the Co-operative and what he likes to do in his free time.

The switch was super easy. The Co-operative bank took care of it all. I brought any paperwork I thought would help (Eg. Bank statements, credit card details, and info about our living expenses). We had also looked at the Co-operative’s account options on their website but the advisor had all the information with him as well. We signed up for a Current Account Plus, credit cards for each of us, and internet banking. The process took about 4 weeks from start to finish and as promised, was well taken care of by the Co-operative bank. Their customer service on the phone was impeccable and I quite enjoy ringing them up when I have to.

1 year on, it’s been an absolute delight to do our banking – something I never thought I’d say. They’ve just been voted Best Current Account Provider 2011 by MoneySupermarket and there’s a reason for it.

So stop putting it off, it’s much easier than you may think and you’ll walk out with an extra spring in your step because you’re supporting an ethical bank.

* The Co-Operative Bank is only 1 example of ethical banking options. There are several out there to choose from.

What do you see when you look at your bank card?

17th February 2012 by

Julia Koskella, in this guest post, explains why she is helping to launch a new social movement in the UK: Move Your Money.

Imagine your bank card – and the money it represents. What do you see? Whenever I take out my HSBC card I see my role in perpetuating an unequal, unsustainable society.

My big bank stands for all the things I don’t support: investing in arms, dictatorships, environmental destruction, bloated bonuses, financial crises, tax avoidance, staggering inequality of income, clinging on to “business as usual”. Your bank probably does too.

I don’t know why I didn’t move my money to a better bank years ago. I guess the financial system was one of those issues that felt too huge to handle. It seemed immune to citizens’ complaints.

But now I’m putting my money in the hands of an organisation I trust and like: my local credit union. It’s mutually owned, so it distributes its profits fairly and invests in my local community and in me. And there are lots of other thriving banking solutions out there.

I’m not doing it alone. I will be an important piece in a new social movement: Move Your Money. I’m using my consumer power to change the banking system for the better.

Move Your Money started in the USA with Arianna Huffington, and 5.6 million people switched banks in the past months. This month it launched in the UK too, and is already attracting lots of support.

The movement needs you too.  Check out the website, and pledge to move your money.  It’s a great one-stop-shop for clear information on why, how and where to move your money to.  (I for one couldn’t tell my credit unions from my building societies!)

Invite your neighbours round in March to move your money all together. It will be Move Your Money Month, with citizens around the country organising their own community events.

The financial system no longer seems so distant and depressing.  We’re an active part of it and we have a voice in how finance works. I’m joining with you (I hope) and thousands of others to turn our talk into a better banking system that works for people and planet.

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