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Home loan divestment movement launched

Future Super's Simon Sheikh

A mortgage broking company offering home loans with fossil free banks and credit unions has been launched by Simon Sheikh and former Australian Ethical manager Adam Verwey.

Called Future Home Loans, the service expects to move hundreds of millions of dollars in home loans from concerned citizens away from the major banks, who last week confirmed the extension of a $1.4 billion debt facility to Whitehaven Coal.

“The CEO of Whitehaven Coal has said that the Big Four financing deal is a strong endorsement of Whitehaven and the coal industry but we think he’s dead wrong,” Mr Sheikh said. “We know many Big Four customers that are very angry that their bank has struck this deal with Whitehaven.”

According to 350 Australia, the Australian divestment campaign has already led to around 3000 customers closing their accounts with the Big Four banks, moving $400 million worth of loans and deposits to banks that don’t lend to fossil fuels.

“Retail banking customers are becoming increasingly concerned about the environmental impacts of their bank’s lending practices,” Mr Sheikh said. “Our customers are telling us that they don’t want the profit generated from their home loans used to fund new coal projects like the Whitehaven Maules Creek Mine or infrastructure like coal ports in the Great Barrier Reef.”

Mr Sheikh, who is also behind fossil-free sister company Future Super, said the Big Four could not “have their cake and eat it too”.

“The Big Four can’t be telling their customers that they’re taking concerns about the environment seriously and at the same time be stitching up a billion dollar deal with Whitehaven Coal,” he said.

The service, Mr Sheik said, would help address the barriers faced by customers wanting to switch home loans.

“The exciting news is that fossil fuel free banks and credit unions are offering some of the best rates on the market. With support from our home loan specialists the process of switching can be quick and easy,” he said.

“People often get a home loan with their existing Big Four bank out of loyalty, when for many, a better rate from a more ethical lender can be sourced.”

Mr Sheikh expects the Big Four to take notice of the new platform, as those with home loans are traditionally some of the most financially valuable customers to banks.

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