Banking on values.

I’m at YVR, waiting for a flight to Copenhagen. I’m going to a meeting of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, a group of 24 banks, credit unions, microfinance organizations and other financial institutions dedicated to a sustainable banking model. These organizations have a “shared commitment to find global solutions to international problems – and to promote a positive, viable alternative to the current financial system.”
Global Alliance for Banking on Values

We’re meeting in Copenhagen, hosted by Merkur Cooperative Bank, to discuss how to better convey to consumers what a values-based banking model and approach is all about. How do we get people to include thinking about what their money is invested in while it’s parked at the bank as one of their decision factors when choosing a financial institution – in addition to rates, location, brand, etc…

It’ll be an intense few days of meetings and visiting Merkur’s clients who are working to create a more sustainable, equitable society. I’m excited and a little nervous about it. I am looking forward to meeting new colleagues from around the world who share a vision of addressing society’s problems through the tools of banking. And, of course, I’m honoured to be representing Vancity, as always.

I’ll blog while there if I have anything interesting to say, and I’ll also be taking photos on Instagram.

BarCampBank Seattle returns.

BarCampBank SeattleKudos to Matt Vance for resurrecting the BarCampBank brand, with the forthcoming BarCampBank Seattle on February 9th.

Almost six years ago Jesse Robbins held the first North American unconference focused on banking. How damn prescient in light of the financial crisis that would begin to erupt later that year and go full-blown a year or so later. Way before anyone thought of occupying any street.

For me, new to financial services at the time, it was a chance to form a community that has nourished me to this day. Many of us were embracing social media and met for the first time in Seattle on July 21st and 22nd, 2007. I wrote several posts about it at the time, including a sum-up on NetBanker.

We created a couple of BarCampBank BC sessions in the two years that followed (with the fun acronym BCBBC).

What I want to talk about…

I think the time is absolutely ripe for a continuation of the dialogue, but in the time since the BarCampBank days, I have changed my focus from digital to community investment. BarCamps, which come out of the tech and dev world are steeped in discussions about technology and its power to disrupt. Personally, I want to move past talking about technology and to something much more deeply rooted and philosophical. I want to talk about values-based banking. Because if community banks and credit unions don’t start increasing their relevance, there’s no need for many of them – perhaps most of them – to exist. And looking at the movement towards strengthening local economies, combined with a pursuit of more sustainable and ethical business practices, we have a giant opportunity to focus ourselves on something meaningful. Reconnecting our cooperative and local heritage to the modern, engaged consumer and citizen.

I look forward to discussing that with you. Buy your ticket now. And let me know if you’ll be there…

How a branch can express your mission.

Vancity Branch Redesign
For the last year and a half I have been tangentially involved in the redesign of two of Vancity’s branches. It’s been an amazing project, looking beyond the expected excitement about new fit and finish within the branch, and at the kind of business we want to do within the branch and how Vancity can best bring its mission and vision to life in these spaces.

We call these two branches in South Burnaby and Port Coquitlam our prototypes, living labs that opened last month. You can see photos, as well as a video that shows what we’re trying to do and why:

Crowdsourcing the next BarCampBankBC

BarCampBankBCFor the last two Septembers, Tim McAlpine, Gene Blishen and I have planned and put on BarCampBanks here in Vancouver. We have been discussing what to do this year and we think it’s time for new blood.

So here’s the deal: I’d love someone to step up and take over the planning of a BarCampBank here in BC. It’s a great event, but the three of us feel like we’d be re-hashing old territory and some new energy and ideas need to surface.

Leave a comment if you’re interested, and we’ll go from there.

2009 is finally over.

In 2008, as the financial crisis was beginning, I remember thinking that it was going to be an amazing learning experience working at a financial institution through an economic crash.

Well, it turns out I was right.

The last eighteen months or so have been challenging, fascinating, frustrating and highly educational. I have been able to make progress on some amazing initiatives that perhaps I otherwise might not have, and watched others slow down to a crawl. I have learned a lot about my own abilities and limitations as well as my sense of intuition and common sense.

And then, just in the last couple of months, things have begun to shift. Things are getting clearer and easier. It’s very much like a fog has been lifted, and I can see the horizon again.

And I wonder if any of you have felt the same way.