What guides the Alliance to promote values-based banking?


Finance plays a pivotal role in shaping the economy, and therefore our society and the environment. Every loan, every investment has an impact on our future, for better or worse. Likewise, many people depend on access to finance to secure their livelihood, live up to their full potential and enjoy a decent and dignified quality of life. Banking and finance therefore come with great responsibility: Banks are not simply neutral brokers of money. They are often creators of money, and by deciding how to allocate the money they are important agents of change. Because of this responsibility, banks need to be clear and transparent about their guiding values.

The following eight brand values complement the six GABV Principles. They sharpen our messaging, explain in more depth who we are and how we are different. The most important feature of GABV member banks is that their values are intentional and integrated into the business model, and not simply an add-on.

Intentional – Values-based banks’ focus on social and environmental impact is intentional, not coincidental. It’s why they exist and reflected in everything they do – from products and services to how they approach risk and make decisions about who to finance.

Coherent – While there is a great deal of change in the banking industry, the business model of conventional banks does not take a coherent approach with respect to social and environmental impact. This is not the case with values-based banks.

Ambitious – Values-based banks want to be recognised as thought leaders at the forefront of progressive banking. Therefore, they aspire to the highest standards, acknowledging that they can always learn and improve.

Authentic – Values-based banks are not perfect. Instead, they maintain an open and honest approach to their shortcomings and work to improve them. Their communications are transparent, honest and as a result easy to understand.

Contextual – Banks operate in different cultures and regulatory regimes, and under different market conditions. Therefore, there needs to be a contextual approach to values-based banks. Values-based banking does not operate in a values ‘strait jacket’. The world is complex and so are the social and environmental challenges we face. Importantly, values-based banks recognise that these challenges are linked. 

Transparent – Values-based banks are accountable. This accountability is first and foremost expressed by a high degree of transparency at all levels of the business model. Transparency allows outsiders to judge for themselves how a bank is behaving against a particular set of values.

Inclusive – Values-based banks aim to build an inclusive financial system that responds to the needs of everyone, and not just a few. This is reflected in tangible activity, such as focusing on providing financial services for disadvantaged or excluded groups.

Systemic – Beyond serving their own customer, values-based banks believe in the need for positive change in the banking system itself. For that reason, values-based banks work with others to change finance so it is better able to serve people and the environment.