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Bringing a charitable boost to the world of foreign exchange

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Global Ethical Brokerage in Tunbridge Wells has developed a new initiative in the world of foreign exchange. Simon Roberts, its managing director, has created a ‘not just for profit’ enterprise committed to corporate social responsibility, and he spoke about it with Alex Blackburne.

After a long career in the City in derivatives broking and the world of finance in Dusseldorf, New York and London, Simon Roberts decided it was time for a change. He wanted to give something back.

It wasn’t because he hadn’t been making money; he even admits to have been “very profitable over the years”. But after reading about one too many financial scandals in the press and coming into contact with one too many so-called ‘fat cats’ in the City, things just didn’t sit comfortably anymore.

So, packing up his possessions into a bag, he left the big smoke and headed for the lefty Kent town of Royal Tunbridge Wells – shortly after which, Global Ethical Brokerage (GEB) was born.

Self-styled as a foreign exchange brokerage with a difference, GEB donates a percentage of its profits from every transaction to charity – almost unheard of in the cutthroat world of brokers. So why take such a bold step?

The world is changing and more companies are assuming a corporate social responsibility programme. We want to help make a difference if we can

I have always had an interest in charitable causes having been long associated with the Round Table, Starlight Children Foundation and Oxfam”, Roberts explains.

I recognised there was an opportunity to address the needs of our customers but also to have a positive impact on the local, national and international communities.

Why shouldn’t I try to make some profit but also do some good and try to help enact a change?

It’s a growing sentiment in the marketplace and there’s a lot of people out there starting think “enough is enough.”

So how does GEB work and what philosophy lies behind the creation of the oxymoron, ‘ethical brokerage’?

Well, in the competitive world of the foreign exchange dealing, GEB offers secure, fast, competitive currency transfers initiated by a dedicated team of professionals.It will quote customers on spot and forward currency rates up to two years in advance with no fees or commission, subject to the amount dealt.

But this is where the similarity with conventional brokerages ends.

Our unique selling point is that when somebody comes and initiates a trade, they have the choice of charity they want to support”, Roberts describes.

One of our competitors, Ethical Currency, works in a similar way but only donates to things like HIV/AIDS and poverty in Africa. All well and honourable causes, but because we’re trying to penetrate the whole marketplace, we didn’t feel that was the right business model.

“We want to give the trade initiator the choice of supporting a charity that they want to support.

So clients therefore come to GEB not only with details of the foreign exchange transaction that they wish to undertake, but also with the details of the charity they want to donate to, which happens through GEB’s Charitable Aid Foundation account.

GEB’s commitment to social change makes it almost unique in its field; certainly in the UK, where there is only one other firm that puts ethics at the centre of its business model.

On top of its charitable donations, it has also entered into partnerships with Starlight Children’s Foundation, CAFOD and Hospice in the Weald.

Living and working in the Tunbridge Wells area, I really wanted to support a local charity”, Roberts says.

“Hospice in the Weald offers an amazing service as the leading specialist in palliative care for west Kent and north east Sussex.

Why shouldn’t I try to make some profit but also do some good and try to help enact a change?

As a company we also wish to support national and international causes. We feel that we are going to try and make a difference.

We still live in a world where over a billion people still do not have enough to eat, and where people are denied access to the basic necessities of life, food, clean water, education and healthcare.

The world is changing and more companies are assuming a corporate social responsibility programme. We want to help make a difference if we can.”

One of the best comparisons to GEB’s model is the Robin Hood tax (or the Tobin tax if you were around in the ‘70s), which if installed, would place a relatively small tax – around 0.1% – on all financial market transactions in the UK.

Indeed, some European governments have looked favourably at it, but it’s unlikely to come into effect in the near future, purely because of the lack of consensus on the matter (the UK government has voiced its opposition to the idea).

The main difference between GEB’s charitable donations and a tax of this kind is that a percentage of its profits goes to good UK causes, and not into the government’s “treasure chest”.

Therefore, for all transactions over £10,000 or its equivalent currency, GEB is committed to donating 0.1% of notional value of its profit to charity.

Roberts says, “We want customers to choose us because our service is excellent and our rates are highly competitive, but like us they share in our ethical values and want to give something back. ‘’

The customers benefit from secure and fast international transfers and the ability to make regular payments abroad, but also have the opportunity to endorse their social responsibility programme.”

Roberts adds that he is enjoying the challenges of working in a highly competitive and fast-paced market, meeting customers and developing new business contacts. And he has big plans to add other product lines to the firm – all of which will share the same ethical values that currently makes GEB a pioneer in principles-led foreign exchange.

Further reading:

Reforming the banking system for good

Co-op to take on 4.8m Lloyds customers in banking overhaul

The Guide to Sustainable Investment

Features

What Kitchen Suits Your Style? Modern, Classic or Shaker?

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shaker kitchen designs

A kitchen is the centre of the home. Your kitchen ranges between where friends and family gather, talk about their day, cook meals, have drinks, to somewhere you can just enjoy each other’s company. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But, everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s taste is different. So, you need a kitchen that not only mirrors your lifestyle but matches your taste too. Whilst some prefer a more traditional design, others want a modern feel or flair – and it’s all down to personal taste.

When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, what style would you go for? It’s a difficult one isn’t it. With so many different styles to go for, how can you know exactly what you want until you’ve seen it in action? Leading kitchen designer, Roman Kitchens, based in Essex, have provided three examples of bespoke kitchens and styles they specialise in, accompanied with beautiful images. This design guide will get you one step closer to picking your dream kitchen for your home.

1. Modern

New home in the city centre? Or even a sleek new modern build? You want a trendy and modern kitchen to reflect your city lifestyle. In modern kitchen design, colours are bolder and fresher, with sleek design and utilities that are distinctive and vibrant.

modern kitchen designs

This modern kitchen is sleek and smooth with flawless design and beauty. Minimalism doesn’t stop this kitchen standing out. Featured walls of wood and vibrant mint green draw the eye, whilst the white surfaces reflect the light, illuminating every nook and cranny of this kitchen. This kitchen features products from Rotpunkt, innovators of modern kitchen design. Made with German engineering, a Rotpunkt Kitchen is the ultimate modern addition to your home. Rotpunkt Kitchens have timeless design and amazing functionality, they work for every purpose and are eco-friendly. Sourced from natural materials, a Rotpunkt kitchen uses 37% less timber, conserving natural forests and being more environmentally conscious.

2. Classic

Prefer a homely and traditional feel? Classic kitchens are warm, welcoming and filled with wood. Wood flooring, wood fixtures, wood furniture – you name it! You can bring a rustic feel to your urban home with a classic kitchen. Subtle colours and beautiful finishes, Classic kitchens are for taking it back to the basics with a definitive look and feel.

classic kitchen designs

With stated handles for cupboards, Classic kitchens are effortlessly timeless. They convey an elegant but relaxing nature. Giving off countryside vibes, natural elements convey a British countryside feel. The wood featured in a classic kitchen can range between oaks and walnut, creating a warmth and original feel to your home. Soft English heritage colours add a certain mood to your home, softening the light making it cosier.

3. Shaker

Any kitchen planner will tell you that the meeting point between traditional and modern design, is a Shaker kitchen. They have a distinctive style and innovative feel. Shakers are fresh, mixing different colour tones with stylish wood and vinyl. The most important feature of a Shaker kitchen is functionality – every feature needs to serve a purpose in the kitchen. Paired with stylish and unique furniture, a Shaker kitchen is an ideal addition to any home.

shaker kitchen designs

The ultimate marriage between Classic and Modern kitchens, this Shaker kitchen has deep colour tones with copper emphasis features. All the fittings and fixtures blur the line of modern and tradition, with a Classic look but modern colour vibe. Unique furniture and design make Shaker Kitchens perfect for the middle ground in kitchen design. Minimal but beautifully dressed. Traditional but bold and modern at the same time. Storage solutions are part of the functionality of Shaker kitchens, but don’t detour from conveying yours as a luxury kitchen.

Whatever you choose for your new kitchen, be it Modern, Classic or Shaker – pick whatever suits you. Taste is, and always will be, subjective – it’s down to you.

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Features

Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy

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Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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