ESG factors a priority for customers when choosing a bank, survey says


61% of UK banking customers wish that their bank would do more to create a positive social and environmental impact, according to new research from management consulting company Deloitte.

Deloitte’s Better Banking Survey sought the views of more than 1,000 UK banking customers, to understand their awareness of their banks’ impact on society.

According to the survey, seven out of ten customers (71%) are more likely to choose a bank with a positive social and environmental impact.

The survey also found that more than three fifths (61%) of the respondents would leave their bank if it was linked to any social or environmental harm, even if it had the best offer.

Richard Hammell, UK head of financial services at Deloitte, commented on the findings: “Issues such as climate change and sustainability are playing a more prominent role in customers’ behaviour.

“Now more than ever, they have access to information about the impact that businesses have on society and the environment, and they’re using that to select the financial products they want.

“Banks have an opportunity to dial up their efforts, to engage with customers by telling the story of their positive impact, and to use social and environmental impact as a source of innovation for new products and services.”

Thinking about what would cause them to leave their bank, almost half of customers (48%) would move their money if they found out the bank was financing fossil fuels, whilst climate action (25%) and the life of our planet (17%) were noted as the most common social and environmental reasons for why customers would consider leaving their bank.

Three fifths of the respondents (61%) thought their bank is strongly committed to making a positive social and environmental impact.

Nonetheless, almost two thirds (64%) would like their bank to allow them to direct a portion of its profits to a cause they support.

Katherine Lampen, UK sustainability and climate change lead at Deloitte, added: “As in all sectors, the banking industry is seeing increasing pressure from investors, regulators and customers to prioritise action on climate risk.

“Whilst it is encouraging to see over half of respondents agree that their bank is strongly committed to environmental impact, there is still more to be done.

“COVID-19 has highlighted how non-financial risks, such as climate change, are capable of generating significant shocks to businesses and the economy.

“In order to identify themselves to customers as well-governed and resilient business, banks must prioritise sustainable finance.”