A report from Lloyds Bank says that the proportion of financial institutions claiming climate change to be a top strategic priority has nearly doubled in a year from 33% to 59%.
In its Financial Institutions Sentiment Survey, 43% of respondents said they planned to ‘make their environmental sustainability goals more ambitious’ over the next year, with 49% saying that their focus in this area had increased around COP26.
Adrian Walking, head of financial services at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “We are at a crucial juncture in the fight to protect the planet from climate change. This year’s report shows financial institutions are not only committed to playing their part, but they also have a dual role to play in providing finance for sustainability or investing in it, as well as their own operations.”
He added: “An unprecedented amount of low-carbon financing must be deployed across every sector of the economy if the UK is to achieve its net-zero target by 2050. Firms are increasing their efforts to deliver against this requirement, while working to reduce their own carbon footprints.”
But tech and expansion rule supreme
The full report goes into more detail. It found that reputation and brand advocacy was the biggest driver for a business to become more sustainable, followed by board and management focus. Improving returns was only named as a factor towards becoming more sustainable in 14% of answers. COP26, it was observed, was at 9%.
It was more business as usual when it came to strategic priorities for 2022. At the top of the list was ‘technology’ at 77%, followed by expanding in existing markets (59%), and sustainability (59%).
Walking, in the report’s closing statement, wrote that the focus on sustainability and technology was ‘reshaping the sector for a future where more services are delivered digitally and with due regard to their environment and social impact’. He added: “This change is being driven from within, and also reflects the changing priorities and demands of our clients. Indeed, the financial services sector also has a vital role to play in helping our clients to futureproof their businesses by investing in the latest technologies and helping accelerate the transition to a green economy.”