Ando StoriesAndo InvestingFrom the CEO's Desk

What is Sustainable Banking?

“We” is powerful. “We” is strong. “We” is where “I” meets “you" and “us” meets “them” and change happens. “We” means togetherness, unity, peace and goodwill. “We” will never be alone. “We” is selfless, because there is no “self” in “we.”

I saw the above quote on a Pennsylvania Avenue wall in Washington D.C. No, it wasn’t at the White House, but an institution nearly as revered. 

OK fine, it was at the legendary eatery, We the Pizza. Sure, it’s not the seat of American democracy, but good luck getting a large spinach and artichoke pie and side of garlic knots at that big white building a little farther up the block. And I’ll take inspiration wherever I can find it. 

Before I get to the idea of Sustainable Banking, there’s a couple of things you should know about me. For starters, I’m passionate about collaboration...that a group of like-minded people can accomplish huge things. (That’s why I start companies—I like a team.) I’m also a big believer in the African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I want to go far, and I’d love for you to take the journey with me. 

OK, Sustainable Banking. In a nutshell, it can be the fastest, most efficient, and effective way to direct trillions of dollars toward stopping the effects of global warming and creating the sustainable future we envision for ourselves, our kids, and all future generations (big nutshell, I know). Right now, Ando is the only banking option that embraces this idea, but it’s not like the recipe for Coca-Cola...I don’t want to lock the idea away in a vault so no one else can use it. Quite the contrary—for Sustainable Banking to be as effective as I know it can be, it needs to become the new banking industry standard. 

At Ando, we like to think that we don’t so much practice Sustainable Banking as we are Sustainable Banking. I founded this company on the very principle. But what exactly does Sustainable Banking mean? Let's start with “sustainability” -- the folks at Canada’s McGill University published a paper that offers as good a definition as any I’ve read. 

Sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future  generations to meet their own needs. In addition to natural resources, we also need  social and economic resources. Sustainability is not just environmentalism. Embedded in  most definitions of sustainability we also find concerns for social equity and economic  development. While the concept of sustainability is a relatively new idea, the movement as a whole has roots in social justice, conservationism, internationalism and other past movements with rich histories. By the end of the twentieth centuries, many of these ideas had come together in the call for sustainable development. Sustainability is a holistic approach that considers ecological, social and economic dimensions, recognizing that all must be considered together to find lasting prosperity. 

“Sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” -- it doesn’t get much clearer than that...the basic idea that we don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. We commonly apply "sustainability” to the way we produce and consume energy (sources like solar and wind are more sustainable than fossil fuels), the way we produce and consume food (organic farming and plant-based diets are more sustainable than using pesticides and consuming animal products), and it’s time to start applying the principle of sustainability to banking. By becoming an active Ando user and adopting our Sustainable Banking philosophy, you enable sustainability across all areas of human life. Yes, you read that right. 

Remember how traditional banks make money—they take our money in our checking and savings accounts, and use it to make loans.  For every dollar we have at our bank, they are able to lend out about a dollar.  To this day, our money funds loans for coal, oil, gas, cars, trucks, buildings, industry, agriculture...you name it.  It’s been this way for as long as most of us can remember. But as I was putting solar panels on my home, making it more energy efficient and buying electric vehicles to reduce our impact on the environment, the money in my bank account was doing the exact opposite.  I was inadvertently helping banks fund businesses and products which I didn’t want.  My money was helping the fossil fuel industry get funding to expand.  My money was also helping build cars and trucks with gasoline engines, buildings which didn’t meet energy efficiency requirements, and other initiatives which further contributed to climate change...just by me sleepwalking through my banking process.  I wanted my money to fund renewable energy, green buildings, sustainable agriculture, battery electric vehicles, anything that was sustainable.  I looked around and didn’t see a banking solution which would enable all my money to fund the future I wanted to help create.  Gandhi said we should, be the change we want to see in the world, and that’s why I started Ando. 

Our Sustainable Banking model takes 100% of your deposits and invests them exclusively in green initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse emissions and improving the environment.  It puts an end to financing companies and products which harm the environment and our future. And we’re completely transparent about where we make investments so you’ll never have to wonder. 

The bottom line is, well...the bottom line—banks utilize your money to make loans.  Before it’s the bank’s money, it’s your money, and even when it’s their money it’s still kinda’ sorta’ your money. This is a Red Pill / Blue Pill moment like in the Matrix. Sustainable banking and Ando are your red pill—we give it to you straight.  

I could have started a non-profit or established a think tank to address the climate issue, but instead I started Ando. Why? Well, like when the infamous Willie Sutton said when asked why he robbed banks, “Because that’s where the money is.” There are tens of trillions of dollars flowing through the banking sector right this very minute, not just in America but across the globe. Harnessing the power of that money to reduce emissions and reverse the effects of climate change is the fastest route toward saving the environment, still with plenty of profit to go around. 

And like I said, I by no means want to keep the idea for myself. Quite the contrary—our customers...hundreds of new ones every day...are proving that the model works. And success breeds success—once we prove it can be done, others will follow, and that’s when things start to get really exciting. Banks and the banking industry can become a force for good.  The collective effort...that celebration of “we” is powerful...it’s truly where change happens. Sustainable Banking is a “we” kind of idea and an accelerated path toward a repaired environment and healthier future for us all. 

We know that you have more banking options than ever, and options are power. But with power comes responsibility, so when deciding which is the right banking solution for you (red pill or blue pill), choose with your eyes wide open, and don’t shy away from the long road ahead. We will get there.  When you enroll with Ando, you’re not only directing your money to sustainable products and businesses, you’re also joining hands with others to help transform the banking industry, globally, and reorient trillions of dollars away from financing traditional high-carbon businesses and products to financing trillions of dollars to sustainable businesses and products.   

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