Responsible Investment News

Sorry Shane Jones, ‘woke’ banking is the future

The comment certainly made for a snappy soundbite. But Jones’s criticism of the lender doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

While Kiwibank’s new responsible policy may seem “woke” or “PC-gone mad” to some, it makes sense for lenders to pursue a more ethical stance in 2020.

The state-backed bank is, in fact, joining “the rest of the world” by going down the responsible route.

In the largest global economies, environmental and social governance (ESG) has taken off over the past decade, as companies try to become more resilient by cleaning up their act. Many banks have ecognised the trend.

Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs plans to spend US$750 billion (US$1.129b) on sustainable finance over the next decade.

Bank of America has pledged US$300b to sustainable investments. Smaller retail lenders such as the

UK’s Co-operative Bank and Bank Australia have had Kiwibank-like exclusions for years.

Global fund management giants have also shifted towards more ethical practices. Blackrock and Vanguard offer funds that exclude sectors including tobacco and weapons. Bank of America predicts there will be US$20 trillion of asset growth in ESG funds over the next 20 years.

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