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Ando: The Journey Begins

First comes awareness...something which was unknown becomes known...a light bulb goes off. Like the first time I tasted coffee ice cream with chocolate sprinkles at age 8, or when I realized at age 45 that running long-distance was causing my lower back to hurt! With awareness came choice. Coffee ice cream with chocolate sprinkles became my new favorite dessert, and I have since chosen walking as my preferred form of exercise.

Last year, I realized the money our family had in our Wells Fargo checking and savings accounts were contributing to climate change. While I knew our money was utilized by the bank to make loans, it didn’t occur to me that those loans were financing all sorts of stuff, many of which increase “greenhouse” emissions.

“While my family had gone to great lengths to reduce our carbon footprint... our money was working against us. And there was nothing we could do about it.” 

For example, Wells Fargo could use our money to finance something as seemingly benign as an auto loan. The loan would be utilized to enable the purchase and placement into circulation of a new internal combustion engine car or SUV. While a new car or SUV sounds good, our money was directly responsible for the creation of approximately 10,000 lbs. of additional CO2 each year. I realized I would prefer our money go towards financing a new battery electric vehicle, or hybrid, or solar panels...something that would contribute to the reduction of emissions.

While my family had gone to great lengths to reduce our carbon footprint--we sold our internal combustion engine cars, purchased battery electric vehicles, put solar energy on our house, and changed our diet to eat less meat--unbeknownst to any of us, our money was working against us. And there was nothing we could do about it. The bank had complete discretion in what it chose to do with our money.

Like any new awareness, once recognized, it is difficult to “unlearn.” (You can’t “unring” a bell.)  I began to assess our family’s options, and as I looked at different banks, I became aware of several other realities.   

  • I couldn’t find any bank that informed its customers what it did with their customers’ money.

  • Banks make loans which finance all sorts of high emission industries.

  • I couldn’t find a bank that allocated all of their deposits to loans that only lowered emissions.

  • Banks in the U.S. hold $17 trillion in deposits, and that enables them to lend out approximately $17 trillion in loans (or purchase securities). Almost all banks don’t take into account emissions when evaluating loans.

And then I thought...  

What If:

  • Banks were transparent about what they did with our money?   

  • Consumers and businesses had a choice?  Would they put their money with a bank that was aligned with their desire to combat climate change?   

  • Enough customers moved their money from traditional banks to banking options that allocated their money to reducing emissions?   

To find the answers to these questions, I realized we needed to create such a solution.  And thus, the Journey To Ando had begun...

Written by:

JP McNeill | Chief Executive Officer

JP McNeill is the founder and CEO of Ando, the leader in Sustainable Banking, where 100% of customer deposits are invested in green initiatives. Environmental advocacy isn’t fashion or a lifestyle for JP--it’s at the soul of his life’s work.

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