Changing Finance: new this month – January

Our monthly round-up of news, ideas and initiatives related to transforming the UK financial system for people and planet, compiled by the Lab’s CEO, Jesse Griffiths.

Exclusion and inequality

Here’s how the financial system fails people on low incomes, and what we can do about it. A new survey reveals that nearly half of UK adults need ‘urgent help’ managing their money.

Meanwhile, the world’s 10 richest men have doubled their wealth in the pandemic, and the richest 500 people became $1 trillion richer last year. Here’s why official statistics underestimate wealth inequality in Britain. Want to dig deeper? Take a look at the 2022 World Inequality Report. One group of millionaires have responded: “tax us now”.

Is a ‘too big’ financial sector bad for the economy? Evidence from the EU suggests it is.

Finance, money laundering, kleptocracy and human rights

Read why accounting firms are at the heart of corruption in the UK.

And what of the big banks? HSBC has been fined £64m for anti-money laundering failings, and Natwest £264m after taking deposits of laundered cash in bin bags. Almost 40% of the UK’s e-payment sector has been flagged red because of money laundering risks. 

 Does its use by dodgy elites mean that the UK financial system has a “kleptocracy problem”.

Here’s a new report on banks and human rights: of 90 banks challenged on their human rights impacts, only 11 responded appropriately and only six took action.

Climate

The Bank of England is telling banks to properly quantify risks from climate change or face intervention. Aviva Investors are telling company directors to take climate seriously, or face being kicked out.

Uh-oh: the EU’s new green label includes nuclear and fossil gas. Environmental lawyers are threatening to sue the European Commission to stop this.

Here some lessons from COP26 for financing the just transition from LSE, and Climate Safe Lending’s year in review.

Also….

UK pension funds’ ownership of UK shares has shrunk dramatically over past 30 years; most are now owned by overseas investors, says this interesting report.

Separating banks’ retail activities from riskier investment activities – ‘ringfencing’ – has not damaged the sector, according to the Treasury – hopefully this means it won’t get rolled back.

Did you know that 10% of UK bank accounts are now in digital ‘challenger’ banks?

And finally…

Why are economists always wrong? And a last chance to apply for a brilliant job as the Lab’s Policy and Public Affairs Manager (by 26 January).