Those attempting to challenge and change financial systems are now looking to recruit a new army: the young.
But this "Generation Y" – those aged between 18 and 30 – aren't mere foot soldiers to this cause. Many in this age bracket are leading from the front, with innovative projects designed to engage younger people, and get them thinking about the impact of the financial decisions they make.
Since the financial crisis there has been a drive to rethink our financial systems: to deliver more sustainable longer-term profits that take account of both social and environmental consequences.
But much of this debate has centred on impact investing and divestment from fossil fuels. By its very nature this has acted as a barrier for many younger people, who typically don't have sufficient assets to invest, or divest – just credit cards, bank accounts and student loans.
This isn't the only barrier that needs to be overcome. The fallout from the financial crisis has left many younger people disillusioned by what they perceive to be the self-serving interests of larger corporations, and of the banking industry in particular.
This has been highlighted in two recent surveys.
Ongoing research being undertaken by the
But he said many in this age group are caught in a Catch 22. "They know they need bank accounts, credit cards and mortgages – but there is no real trust or warmth for the big banks that provide these services. As a result they are disengaging when it comes to personal finance, and are not taking an interest in what other options might be open to them."
Education is often the key. Many of those that took part is this research did not necessarily know that the money they deposited with bank was then used to fund other projects.
The campaign to ensure children know more about money has been spearheaded by
Another initiative aims to provide a "financial inheritance" for children in care.
The government puts £200 into each of these accounts, but then
But Vaccuro said he hoped that in time the remit for financial education would be expanded, so children could learn how to be better financial citizens, rather than just financial consumers. "We should be teaching our younger people how financial systems work, what their agency is in it, and how this can be leveraged to bring about change."
The challenge for those looking to engage younger people is to convince them that the financial decisions they make do have an impact on the political issues they care about: be it climate change, corporate tax, or the living wage.
To this end UKSif is rebranding its National Ethical Investment Week as Good Money Week and will be specifically targeting the student population, through social media campaigns, and partnerships with university groups. "Sustainable finance is about more than just investment. We want people to think about all aspects of their money, from student bank accounts to credit cards – and start asking question of these providers."
She said this engagement can produce change. Many of the major banks do valuable work with local communities, educational schemes and social enterprises. "Do customers support these initiatives or would they like to see their bank doing more?"
She added: "We are not making judgements as to which bank, pension company or investment fund is ethical or not. We'd like to see customers of all ages, but particularly younger people access this information and make their own decision about how their money is used."
There have been a number of initiatives that attempt to make such distinctions. The Move Your Money campaign, rates individual bank accounts, and tries to persuade people to move their current accounts and savings to those that act more responsibly. Although not primarily aimed at younger people, the campaign manager,
However Push Your Parents started out as a student campaign. It has been inspired by the divestment movement, where students in the US and
The children and finance series is funded by
Join the community of sustainability professionals and experts. Become a GSB member to get more stories like this direct to your inbox
Most Popular Stories
- Cantwell Targets Gender Gap in Small-Business Loans
- Chrysler Gets Nod as a Top Employer for Hispanic Women
- Hispanic Entrepreneurs Set Pace in Florida
- FBI Probes JPMorgan Hack
- Health-care Deal Aids Port Contract Talks
- South Korea's Kia to Invest $1 Billion in Mexico
- Perry's Lawyers Try to Close Abuse Case
- Mario Lopez Inks New Clear Channel Deal
- Apple Loses Bid to Block Sales of 9 Samsung Phones
- What's the Law for Kids at Gun Ranges?