Sustainable Banking Report: Decreased Environmental Concern Among US Banks

Hexaware Mobiquity, a digital consultancy that designs and delivers innovative digital products and services for the world’s leading brands, released the results of the firm’s annual Global Benchmark for Sustainable Banking Report.

This third iteration of the report “surveyed 600 C-suite banking executives across the United States, United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Australia, uncovering significant changes in attitudes toward sustainable initiatives.”

This year, “only 26% of C-Suites surveyed declared sustainable banking as a top concern at the board level compared to 41% last year across all regions.”

In the U.S., almost all (97%) C-suites “surveyed in 2021 and 2022 said sustainability was an important part of their business strategy.” However, this year, “that number has dropped to just over 70%.”

Following this trend, “over 90% of U.S. C-suites surveyed in 2021 and 2022 said they had a representative at the board level who oversees their sustainability strategy.”

In 2023, that number “has fallen drastically to just over 60%.” U.S. banks have also “scaled back their efforts and actions to foster sustainable behaviors and outcomes.” This figure peaked last year, “spiking from just over half in 2021 to over 80% in 2022.” This year, that number has fallen “to its lowest point of just over one-third.”

Peter-Jan van de Venn, VP Global Digital Banking at Hexaware Mobiquity, said:

“The increasing environmental concern and actions observed by U.S. banks in 2022 were extremely encouraging. Now, less than one year later, it’s interesting to watch this progress decline. Still, it is important to note that U.S. banks are not an exception when it comes to the scaling back of sustainability initiatives and actions. Each region we surveyed observed a noticeable drop in most categories compared to the previous years. However, it’s clear with the shifting increased focus to the current economic climate, banks have put other priorities, sustainability mainly, to the side as the challenges continue.”

Additional key findings include:

  • U.S. banks listed reputational risks (39%) as the most common ESG risk they face, followed by climate change risks (31%)
  • The top concern at the board level for U.S. banks is the present economic climate, followed by talent management.
  • U.S. banks list limited access to talent and expertise as the top barrier to adopting more sustainable practices.
  • The U.S. region saw a significant drop in banks with a sustainability representative at the board level falling from almost 100% in 2022 to just over two-thirds in 2023.

In 2022, almost all banks “were using digital transformation initiatives to drive sustainable outcomes – in 2023, that number has dropped to just over 80%.”

The full Benchmark for Sustainable Banking Report is available here.

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