This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

February 3, 2010

Green Banks Thrive

Capitalizing on the green movement, a growing number of financial institutions have sprouted up in the United States and elsewhere. Promoting earth-friendly policies, these green banks have appeared in numerous US cities and other countries, including France, Mexico, and elsewhere.

The concept originated in Europe with the need to finance "alternative projects", socially and environmentally desirable developments. Committed to ethical and responsible banking practices, France's Credit Agricole supports producing responsible products and services and reducing effects of climate change.

Green banks support environmentally friendly strategies by providing lower interest rates on loans to green builders and borrowers who buy fuel-efficient cars, as well as incentives to depositors who opt out of paper statements. Consumers feel positively towards these green improvements. A recent survey found that 56 percent of respondents believe paperless statements to be ecologically friendly---not just a cost-cutting ploy on the part of the banks.

As the economy emerges from its contraction, GreenChoice Bank, located in the Midwest, hopes to be one of the regionís first green lenders. GreenChoiceís chief operating officer, Steve Sherman, is accredited in green building practices by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). GreenChoice will reward green builders and consumers who opt not to receive paper statements. They will soon provide envelope-free ATM deposits and "remote deposit capture", a way for business customers to deposit checks without visiting a bank. Another example: First Green Bank, which opened last February, offered zero-interest loans to workers who bought cars that get more than 30 miles a gallon.

Another traditional lender, PrivateBank, financed part of a USD $1 million-plus loan for the Little Green Tree House that opened an environmentally friendly day-care center.

Jumping on the bandwagon, the major banks of the US have embraced green practices. HSBC donated $100 million USD to four environmental organizations and Wachovia, now a subsidiary of Wells Fargo, announced that it would build only "green branches" as it expanded into California and Texas.

Expect more financial institutions and other enterprises worldwide to join in this green movement; it makes organizations more attractive to both internal and external customers.

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