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Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Public want banks to be ethical - survey finds
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73% of the British public think that banks should have ethical lending policies in place to prevent them from investing in, or lending to, companies involved in controversial areas such as arms manufacturing, or companies with poor records on the environment and human rights, according to new research released today.

The national online consumer survey, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of non-profit research organisation EIRIS, explores current consumer attitudes to green and ethical finance. The survey launched as EIRIS figures show that the amount of money invested  ethically in the UK has risen 289% over the last decade.

The survey identifies clear evidence of the need for change in all investment and lending practices. 66% of the survey respondents think that banks and other financial institutions have not learnt the lessons needed to prevent a future financial crisis but instead have reverted to 'business as usual'.

In the wake of the BP oil spill, many consumers recognise the impact that green and ethical issues can have on a company's bottom line. 82% of the British public think that it is important for financial product providers to pay more attention  to environmental, social and governance risks when deciding which companies to invest in or lend money to, as part of ensuring a good financial return.

Survey respondents were presented with a list of ways that banks or financial institutions could offer more to their customers. Ranked most highly was the disclosure of information on how and where banks lend to or invest their money, with 77% thinking that banks or financial services providers should have this.

Other key findings

When asked what might encourage them to switch to an ethical financial product or service:

- 38% would be more likely to change if more information was available on the high street about ethical/green products

- 43% said they would be more likely to switch to an ethical financial product if its green and ethical credentials were externally verified so that it was easier to trust the claims made

- 41% would be more likely to change if a greater choice of ethical/green products was available

- 37% would be more likely to change if there was more information available on how green/ethical products make a difference in the world

Mark Robertson, Head of Communications at EIRIS said: "It's clear that there's a lot more that financial institutions can do to build trust and persuade us that  they have switched away from short-term, unsustainable investing and lending practices. Our survey shows that there's a huge appetite for a more intelligent approach to finance which places a greater emphasis on society and environment as part of a path towards a more sustainable financial future".

In order to assist people looking for ethical financial products, EIRIS has launched  - the UK's first consumer website dedicated to providing free, independent and unbiased information on all aspects of ethical finance.

The website incorporates a traffic-light rating system to show how banksmeasures up against a set of specially-developed green and ethical criteria. Consumers can also search for investment products, including ISAs and funds that match their green and ethical concerns or learn about how their pension scheme invests. The site also features a section dedicated to student finance and guides on financial exclusion and greenwash in financial product marketing.

The survey is launched to mark the UK's third National Ethical Investment Week which aims to raise the profile of green and ethical investment in the UK.

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Tags: ethical banking

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