But are banks just, and do they actually serve the people in their communities? This is a question that has been on the minds of many recently. Banks are a necessary evil, so it may seem. And there's no denying the fact that they do serve a useful purpose...at least for some. Banks do need to make a profit to continue being able to offer loans, but at what cost? So often, the neighborhood bank doesn't actually serve the neighborhood where it's located. Banks, as well as other businesses, will move into lower-income neighborhoods (the cost of doing business there is cheaper) but then they don't want to help the residents there. They use a set of standards, or rules, by which they determine who will, and won't get a loan. Loans are the backbone of banks and where they make most of their money. Bank loans can improve the life of the borrower, but bank loans can also destroy a life, as well. Banks aren't just...or are they?
For the most part, when a bank moves into an area of town, especially a lower income neighborhood, other businesses will come in, too. New houses are built and old ones are torn torn rather than refurbished. The area starts to "improve," at least for some, and drives up the cost of living and housing for the majority of that community's residents. This forces them to leave. But where do go from there?
Banks can be just, and by that I mean morally right and fair, but most have chosen not to be. There are some really good banks out there; those banks have a vison and an objective to actually improve the lives of the working poor; some even work towards improving the environment. They see the "big picture" and understand that they are in a prime position to make things better...and they can still make a profit, which, in turn, keeps the shareholders happy.
As consumers of banking products and services, I think it's us to us to hold banks accountable. Do you know where YOUR money goes once you put it in the bank? The people, groups, and ventures they invest in might (and often do) will have very different views than your own. They might be investing in businesses that promote child labor overseas, or they may invest in military/weapons businesses, or worse...
It is possible to find good banks, but they are few and far between. Some communities have even gone so far as to start their own bank. This will, I think, be the wave of the future. After all the economic woes of 2008-09, and the negative reputation of banks these days, I do believe that it's time for an overhaul of banks and the way they operate.
I urge you to look deeper into the your current bank. Check out their bsuiness practices and see where they invest YOUR money. There are many, many banking options out there and it may be that we need to support the lesser of these evils, at least for now. As people begin to demand more from their bank, instead of settling for less as we have down for far too long, banks will be forces to keep up with changing morality and our increased environmental awareness. We have to send a mesage. Stand tough and let your bank know how you feel. Just Banking is around the corner, but it will be a very long walk unless we take take that walk together.