Apr2017, Opinion&Letters
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Bank Divestment Cheat Sheet

If you have your money in big banks such as TD, Scotia or RBC, your money might be supporting fossil fuel projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline, or mining companies responsible for human rights violations around the world. Banks use your money to make all kinds of investments, and these investments are a big part of how banks make their profits. For instance, TD bank is invested in TransCanada, a Calgary-based energy company. TransCanada is the owner of the Energy East pipeline project, which crosses over 180 Indigenous Communities in violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and its emphasis of free, prior and informed consent. If you have money in TD or other similar banks your money is either directly or indirectly being funneled towards these projects. For more information about what banks are invested in check out decolonizenow.ca.

If you are interested in withdrawing your support from these damaging institutions, divesting from your bank is a good way to start. This cheat sheet will help you through the steps of switching banks and becoming part of a growing movement for divestment.

  1. Find a good place to put your money.

Check out local bank co-ops and credit unions. Credit unions are co-operatively run banks. That means that as a member you also get to be part of bank governance. Credit unions also invest in local businesses and community initiatives. This doesn’t mean they are perfect, it just means you have more control over where your money goes than you would at another bank. In Squamish, the local credit union is Squamish Savings, a partner of Vancity with connections to credit unions across the country.

  1. Set up an account with the bank you want to move your money to.

You can call the bank and book an appointment. You should meet with a representative and ask them what kinds of services they offer so that you know what kinds of accounts to open, how to switch your credit cards, and anything else you may need from your bank. You should move some, but not all of your money into the new bank account at this point.

  1. Switching your billing information, and direct deposits.

This step is about making sure that once you make the switch to a new bank, everything from your government tax returns to your Netflix charges are also being deposited and withdrawn from your new account. Ask your new bank about getting a pre-authorized payment form (PAP form) so that your bill payments can be made automatically. You will also have to inform your employer of changes to your direct deposit information so that they know where to send your paycheck.

  1. Moving your money.

Move the rest of your money to your new account. You should wait about month, or a full pay cycle, to make sure that you have not forgotten any bills or checks before moving all of your money and closing your account. There are a few options for moving money. Electronic payments and certified bank checks are the cheapest, but will take a few days to go through. Wire transfers are more immediate, but it will cost you $20-30. Make sure you get some cash out so that you can pay for things while you are waiting for any transactions to happen.

  1. Close those old accounts, and say goodbye.

When you go to close your accounts you should let your bank know why. Write a letter explaining your decision, go into your bank branch and ask if you can speak to a manager, you can deliver your letter directly to them. For more information about how to make a statement when divesting from your bank, check out Yes! Magazine’s article “7 Ways to Make an Even Bigger Impact When You Divest From DAPL”.

Divesting may seem like a daunting task, but if you take your time and follow these steps you’ll be on your way to ending your support for dirty businesses in no time! If you have further questions contact Liza Stoner or Isabella Lyne. We will be guiding people through this process and would be happy to help you out.

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