We’re undergoing a transition to a new economy - one where business is not only focused on returns to shareholders, but also one that understands and prioritizes the complex ecosystem between business, the environment, employees, and the greater community. This new pivot to prioritizing all stakeholders not only creates a framework for accountability and ethical business, but also builds better resilience and long-term value.
No matter how earnest the intent of values-driven organizations are to fulfill their missions, without changing the underpinnings of a financial system that relies on critical investments in industries such as oil and gas, chemicals, industrial agriculture and heavy manufacturing, they will remain tied to – and in some ways, dependent upon – measures contrary to their efforts.
This is why banking can be a bridge to realizing an economic transformation. Banks that operate from a place of values not only support a client network with a mutual sense of purpose, they also allow companies and individuals transparency into “where their money spends the night,” leveraging the power of capital to perpetuate this positive change by investing their money in triple-bottom-line enterprises.
Mission-driven banking allows depositors to see how their money is being used, and ensure that it supports companies that are aligned with their values.
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New Resource Bank, as a pioneer in values-based banking with a portfolio of mission-driven clients, has been serving as a bridge for hundreds of companies and nonprofit organizations for a decade.
This month, New Resource Bank will celebrate its 10-year anniversary. In celebration of our work and in honor of companies everywhere helping to advance the new economy, we’ve identified 10 fundamental lessons about banking and the new economy that can most impact the triple bottom line.
10: Give the future a seat at the table.
Businesses that take a short-term view of their operations are at risk. We need long-term thinking that appreciates the value of resiliency in order to ensure a prosperous future. It’s the difference between choosing $100 in your pocket today, or a million dollars for your great-grandchildren a century from now. So long as we have a short-term view of profitability and seek quick returns, we’ll be not just delaying, but increasing, the pain we’ll experience later.
9: Build a community of purpose.
There’s no need to take on a mission alone. We see banking as a catalyst for our community, and have realized our own success and helped others find theirs by being a part of a significant movement toward sustainability. We share our values with a network of partners and stakeholders who are together driven by a triple bottom line. By sharing best practices and business opportunities, we can grow stronger together.
8: Always stay true to your values.
We’ve dealt with our own challenges; we know from experience that staying true to your values through times of hardship will give your business clarity and purpose, and can be an anchor and a compass for right action. It will bond you closer to your true audience and garner greater respect. Staying true to our values during the financial crisis of 2008 ensured that we could thrive once we got to the other side. Understanding the risks of the future and choosing to address them by generating a positive impact will strengthen resiliency in times to come.
7: Banking is a bridge.
Understanding the deep economic ties that bind us to a financial dependence on harmful industries, and opting to do things differently, is an essential step in solving the problem. Being a new economy business and striving to support a transition to an economy that prioritizes shared values is impossible when its financial underpinnings are reliant on industries, such as those mentioned above, that are in direct opposition. Until financial institutions sever these ties to traditional investments, there can be no true shift. See banking as a bridge to the new economy.
6: Seek the value of partnerships.
By partnering with key organizations that are aligned with our mission, we are able to amplify the impact of our bank and create a powerful network that is building the new economy. New Resource Bank is a proud B Corp, and a co-founder of the Global Alliance on Banking with Values and San Francisco Green Business. These businesses not only provide us with frameworks, methodologies and peers for expanding our impact, they also multiply our efforts and together we become part of a movement.
5: Transparency builds trust.
We operate a bank transparent in its lending and governance practices. Our depositors trust where their money spends the night because of our unparalleled commitment to transparency. We don’t believe that we can serve well without being held accountable for how we operate, nor can we validate our work without verified third-party measurements of our efforts and impact. This not only gives us a way to show alignment with our clients, it also lets them grow confidence in the power of banking in a new economy – one in which making values-based management decisions maintains profitability for years on end.
4: The future belongs to the new economy.
A triple-bottom-line approach isn’t one for idealists and dreamers. It responds to the reality of modern global pressures including threatened resources, energy volatility and political instability – and offers a better and more resilient long-term solution. The industries of tomorrow – such as renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, clean air and water – will not only weather future volatility, they will be the ones that drive businesses in the 21st century and beyond.
3: Banking is about more than just money.
Banking shouldn't be about selling as many pre-packaged financial products as possible to clients. It should form a true partnership that listens and adapts to individual client needs. We work closely with our clients to understand and serve their corporate vision and their sustainability mandates. We make banking the center of a true partnership that serves our collective triple bottom line.
2: Money is an agent of change.
We believe banking can transform the economy into one that serves all people and the planet. We see money as a store of values and a vehicle for social, environmental and economic change. Shortchanging this ideal with a priority on quick returns for a select group of corporate shareholders at the expense of all who will be impacted by these actions is a tragedy waiting to happen. Our strategy is to use capital wisely and in service of long-term resilience and opportunity.
1: Embrace values-based banking.
We believe that people really do care where their money spends the night. By driving capital towards triple-bottom-line organizations, depositors are able to align their money with their values and build a better world – one in which they have a growing stake.
In the new economy, sustainable businesses take into account all their stakeholders — including the environment — and operate with transparency. They are also more likely to thrive, and support others in doing so.
Banks have just as much obligation, and opportunity.
That’s why over the last 10 years, we have worked with our greater community in a shared commitment to these 10 lessons of sustainable banking. Through them, we’ve grown stronger - together. Embarking on the decade to come, we will continue to work in support of the new economy, leveraging the power of banking to financially activate a healthy business ecosystem that creates opportunity and lasting value for all.