Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sunshine on a cloudy day

Sometimes, I think no one knows what we do.

So I was pleasantly surprised to read about one of Canada’s newest Rhodes scholars, Rosanna Nicol, in yesterday’s Metro. Asked about what she might be doing at Oxford she replied “I’m pretty interested in socially responsible investing and how we could get capital flow to areas that need it, but within a market structure rather than an aid framework.”

Looking forward to that Master’s thesis - way to go Rosanna!

In these cold dark days of winter, another burst of sunshine was provided by TD Canada Trust. TD, along with the other banks, is well represented in most SRI portfolios. I am often asked, 'what makes the banks socially responsible?' Well, here’s an answer. TD has a new pilot program, the Direct Deposit Initiative, which helps people open bank accounts and deposit their social assistance cheques. An article by Rita Trichur in the Toronto Star says “The latest data – a 2006 survey conducted for the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada – found that 96% of Canadians aged 18 and over have a savings, chequing or other account. Those who don’t tend to be the poorest of the poor, even though a basic chequing account is the crucial first step in participating in the financial mainstream.” It makes sense. Who better than a bank to help these disenfranchised people get a bank account?

And then there’s that triple bottom line. “A profitable account for any bank is one where there is regular activity, no bounced cheques and some modest fee revenue coming in every month,” Gunn said. “We are not altogether just altruistic. It is a good win for us too.”
Read the whole article here.

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