Our money and our mouth

Banking on values, not just value, matters for society and ecology.

What do the Archbishop of Canterbury and a fairly ruthless payday-loans company, Wonga, have in common?  Quite a lot actually, as it turns out.  For a start, they recently shared the media spotlight as Justin Welby announced, very commendably, that the Church of England would use its considerable resources to offer alternative forms of financial advice and support to people that did not involve fleecing them with scandalous rates of interest.  Archbishop Welby declared that he wanted to ‘compete [Wonga] out of existence’.  Almost immediately it transpired, however, that there were also less exalted links between Wonga, the Archbishop and the wider Church of England via its pension fund, albeit through a relatively minor and indirect investment.  The righteousness of Welby’s war on Wonga remained but the incident highlighted the challenges of matching values with investments, and the reputational risks of getting it wrong.

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