So I've been in a letter writing mood of late. First it was my letter to Tanya Plibersek in regards to the pitfalls of the awful policy of metadata retention, and now I'm writing to my (now former) bank St.George as to why I've left them and am moving my money to ME Bank.
Hat tip to Market Forces for their campaign to bring knowledge to consumers about the investment practices of the big banks, and for the base letter I formed this off.
See the full document on Google Drive.
This is voting with your money at its core.
To whom it may concern (via the Martin Place branch manager) I have been with St. George and their superannuation partner BT for over 6 years now. I am writing to ensure you are aware of why I have decided to close all my accounts with both providers and move my money over to ME Bank and AustralianSuper. 1. Sustainability I recently became aware of the extent to which St. George’s parent company Westpac is financing major fossil fuel projects in Australia. Westpac is clearly a major supporter of the coal and gas sector, for example having loaned billions of dollars to coal and gas export projects in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area over the past five years. Coal and gas are driving an array of unacceptable environmental risks, from the degradation of groundwater resources to the industrialisation of the Great Barrier Reef, loss of critical wildlife habitat and of course, climate change. I don’t want my money helping an institution that is funding these destructive projects, especially when there is a wealth of clean, renewable energy alternatives available. And yes, I am aware that you also finance renewable energy projects - this is of course important and worthy but I don’t support the idea that you would at the same time fund fossil fuels, the source of so many adverse environmental impacts. I also consider it an economic risk to retain my money with Westpac-subsidiary St.George. There is a growing awareness of the fact that fossil fuel assets will become unstable as the world moves to combat climate change. I do not want my money with a bank that is investing in assets that may soon become stranded, and companies whose value may plummet as the world turns away from fossil fuels. As a consequence, I have decided to move my money to a bank that will not finance coal and gas projects. It is a move made to ensure my own finances do not support an industry that is polluting the environment, and I hope my action will also make St. George/Westpac reconsider future investments in the fossil fuel sector. 2. Overdraft fees Back in late 2011 I received a number of overdraft/dishonour fees to my account as a result of a PayPal service that would attempt to direct debit your bank account first, and if unsuccessful it would then charge your credit card. I had never heard of these fees before however when I investigated what they meant, I called up to ensure that in the future any direct debit would be rejected, rather than accepted with a fee charged - it’s a debit account, not a credit account! I was told this was not possible, and at the end of this call I gave my assurance that I would be moving my accounts to another financial service provider as a result. I am aware that ME Bank does have overdraft fees as well, however I have not yet been charged one by them, and if I do get charged one then I will consider my options to protest in a similar way as I am doing now. I hope you do not have to receive too many more letters like mine before you realise that investing in fossil fuels is no longer viable or responsible, and that overdraft fees should be abandoned. If there is anything you would like to say directly in relation to this letter, you are welcome to write back to me. Yours sincerely, Dylan Lindgren