Earth Day is almost here, a good time to be thinking about what we can all do to help protect our planet. And if you’re a community bank, a good time to be thinking about how you can talk about Earth Day in your marketing messaging. After all, Earth Day and all that comes with it — in the way of environmental and social responsibility — has become a pretty big deal of late. Of course, you don’t have to take just my word for it…
According to fintechtimes.com, over two thirds (67 per cent) of consumers want their bank or financial institution to become more sustainable in the future. Nearly half (48 per cent) stated that access to green financial services has become more important to them in the last five years. Just two in five (42 per cent) think that their current bank or financial institution clearly communicates its sustainability commitments. And more than two thirds (67 per cent) believe that their current financial institution is guilty of greenwashing.
These are pretty disconcerting numbers. Granted, people have always been concerned about whether or not the companies they spend money with do business in a way that aligns with their values. We also know that the American consumer’s focus on environmental concerns has increased exponentially over just the last few years. The question now becomes, what are community banks willing (and able) to do about it?
I read this out on NerdWallet:
What impact does my bank have on the environment? You may be thinking, “I don’t invest in deforestation or fossil fuels, so my money aligns with my environmental values already.” But did you know that if you keep money in a bank account, your bank can lend it out to or invest in industries whose practices negatively impact the environment? Quite a few major banks put a lot of money toward these industries — some banks spent close to $100 billion each from 2016 to 2020 — and you might not know that your cash is part of the process.
- NerdWallet, “How to go greener with sustainable banking,” April 22, 2022
Visit bankrate.com, and you’ll find tips on how to bank in a way that protects our environment. Or, go to Bank.Green, where you’ll find this headline on their site’s homepage: “Is your money being used to fund climate chaos?” The site also gives banks a “funding the climate crisis” rating. I typed in the name of a West Coast bank just for fun and this is what the site told me: “Your money is being used to fund the climate crisis at an alarming rate. Your bank is one of the 60 biggest funders of fossil fuels in the world.” Wow.
Needless to say, it has become increasingly important for companies to trumpet their environmental and social responsibility practices and accomplishments. But they must do so carefully. Those that do must be able to, well, “walk the walk and talk the talk.” With the increasing number of regulatory crackdowns on greenwashing, banks are finding themselves vulnerable to probes and penalties over exaggerated or misrepresented sustainability statements; and those penalties can be quite burdensome, financially. As recently as this past May, for instance, the SEC charged BNY Mellon Investment Adviser, Inc. for misstatements and omissions about Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations. To settle the charges, the company agreed to pay a $1.5 million penalty.
So, are you ready for Earth Day? What are you currently doing in the way of sustainable practices? Are you supporting organizations and businesses that are environmentally friendly? Moving away from paper to digital? When you do use paper, or plastic, is it recycled? Do you employ green practices at your branch locations, i.e., using energy saving equipment and lighting? Using cleaning products and methods that are eco-friendly? There are hundreds of ways that local banks can adopt sustainable business practices, and now is the time to do it, if you haven’t already. Sustainability is not just a fad that will simply go away at some point. No, it’s here to stay.
About Bank Marketing Center
Here at bankmarketingcenter.com, our goal is to help you with that topical, compelling communication with customers; the messaging — developed by banking industry marketing professionals, well trained in the thinking behind effective marketing communication — that will help you build trust, relationships, and revenue. In short, build your brand. Like these campaigns, for example, that banks can use to promote the steps they’re taking to help protect Mother Earth.
To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to social media and in branch signage – visit bankmarketingcenter.com. You can also contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, I welcome your thoughts on the subject.