As the leading national progressive bank, we are proud to commit to conducting business according to these Five Principles. Moreover, we challenge all financial institutions to adopt these Five Principles as a new, gold standard for responsible behavior in the banking sector.
Banks can be a tremendous power for good. When banks act as stewards of a family’s financial security, no other industry’s role is more vital to widening access to the American Dream. The banking industry must return to its founding mission of creating financial opportunity for everyone, not just for our executives or shareholders. Our economy thrives when financial empowerment is shared. Through affordable and accessible products and services, banks can reclaim our role in making sure that the mission of financial empowerment becomes a reality.
Banking relies on trust. A robust system of lending, saving and investing is central to a strong economy. Customers must trust their banks are never drifting from their fiduciary responsibility to maximize our customers’ financial opportunities. Breeding an internal corporate culture founded on an unwavering commitment to protecting customer trust is at the core of maximizing financial opportunity and preventing systemic financial failure.
Banks have been given an extraordinary responsibility. With that opportunity, along with the government’s insurance of deposits, come regulations designed to protect consumers. Rather than challenge sensible regulation, responsible banks should embrace such measures as tools designed not only to safeguard consumer confidence, but to protect the solvency of an industry with inherent risks, and to preserve the integrity of our overall financial infrastructure.
Banks’ interest in broad-based economic empowerment should include advocacy on policy beyond our customers’ banking needs. And we should not reserve the benefits of banking for the few, while the rest of America incurs its risk. Whether it is wage fairness, equitable housing programs, or better access to financial services for the unbanked or underbanked, banks should be forceful advocates for public policy that allows for the creation of financial opportunity up and down the economic ladder.
Banking can be a complicated business. But too often that is by design, rather than necessity. Banks must embrace transparency and corporate governance standards that bolster consumer confidence and allow for real public accountability. An opaque banking system will always undermine banks’ legitimacy by its inability to inspire trust or empower those who need our services most. We must take an active role in educating consumers on personal finance and in improving financial literacy in our most economically vulnerable communities.