Taking ethics all the way to the bank
It is expected that those wanting to lead an ethical lifestyle will choose fair trade coffee and recycle their newspapers; but according to research by Mintel, millions of British consumers are going even further when making financial choices.
One in six (16%) are checking out a firm’s environmental and ethical credentials when choosing where to bank and no less than three in ten (31%) adults – or some 15.2 million of us – will consider a bank’s commitment to ethical causes, when next taking out a mortgage or opening a new account.
“Environmental and ethical issues are really starting to take hold of the banking world, with millions of people now seriously considering these causes before making financial decisions,” commented Todd Davis, senior finance analyst at Mintel.
“Although this is not a new development, the last couple of years have undoubtedly seen this trend gather momentum, and financial organisations will now be able to gain real competitive advantage by taking a genuinely ethical approach to banking,” he added.
Lip service But it is not all plain sailing for these financial instructions. There is still a lot of cynicism amongst the British population when it comes to the banking industry’s green credentials, as two thirds of UK consumers (66%) think green marketing is just a PR stunt.
“Financial institutions are clearly not currently sending out a very convincing message. They will need to rethink some of their strategies if they are to make the most of their decision to commit to a pro-environmental business stance,” commented Todd Davis.
Investment ethics In the UK today, many financial companies focus their efforts on highlighting their own commitment to being environmentally friendly. But when it comes to ethical finances, Mintel’s research shows that people are much more concerned about where banks are investing their money and less so about the bank’s own green credentials.
Today, well over half (56%) of adults want to be sure that their financial provider does not invest in companies that use child labour. People also do not want their bank to indirectly invest in corrupt regimes (45%), the arms trade (44%) or companies that use animal testing (39%). By contrast, just one in four (24%) look for a bank’s own carbon neutrality when choosing an ethical bank.
This last figure could well alter however, as people become more aware of carbon neutrality as an important business priority, and when there are more points of comparison.
The Mintel consumer research was based on a sample of 1,969 adults aged over 18. It is called ‘Green and Ethical Finances’ and is available from Mintel Price: £1,500.