Quarter of Brits think financial institutions should focus on sustainability

24 per cent of Brits believe meeting sustainability goals should be a priority for senior managers in financial organisations, with this number rising to 42 per cent for 18-to-34-year-olds, according to YouGov research.

The YouGov findings are based on 2,000 British participants and cover payments, investment, ethics in banking and marketing, and the effect of COVID-19 on financial institutions.

37 per cent of Britons said they have actively reduced their non-essential expenses during the pandemic, while 61 per cent plan to carry on limiting their expenditure according to the research.

18 per cent of YouGov’s respondents said they were forced to dip into savings and 7 per cent said they have been forced to borrow money because of the pandemic, however 24 per cent have managed to save more money during this time.

YouGov highlighted how this could present challenges and opportunities for financial institutions as consumers provide fewer transactions, but they have more potential customers for savings products.

The research said 49 per cent of Brits are focusing on their regular financial commitments like paying bills and rent, with 35 per cent focusing on saving money for unexpected hardships, and just 12 per cent prioritising saving for their retirement.

YouGov’s research also covered preferences for cash throughout the world: 22 per cent of Brits said they prefer cash, compared to 52 per cent of Mexicans and 46 per cent of Germans.

In contrast, 20 per cent of Swedish consumers expressed a preference for cash according to YouGov, while in Denmark this fell to 13 per cent.

YouGov’s report said contactless payments are similarly varied in popularity: 71 per cent of Brits use contactless often, compared with 77 per cent of Poles and 43 per cent of Americans.

In addition, consumers in the survey had a low appetite for risk according to YouGov.

70 per cent of British consumers said they were greatly averse to risk, while 31 per cent of consumers from Singapore and Germany said they were open to it according to the research.

While Brits are the most risk averse, only 59 per cent have been a victim of fraud or scams, the lowest of the countries surveyed by YouGov.

58 per cent of Brits believe that a lack of awareness is the main reason people are victims of fraud or scams, while 56 per cent say being gullible is the main reason.

YouGov’s finding also covered British public’s opinions on the ethical side of banking.

47 per cent of Brits think banks should prioritise fair pay for staff, while 40 per cent said they should prioritise protecting customer data and data privacy, while 32 per cent said a hygienic and safe environment for staff should be number one.

When asked to choose between financial organisations paying fair tax and paying staff a fair pay, Brits were almost evenly split, with 54 percent saying paying staff fairly while 48 said paying fair tax.

“The paper broadly reveals a wave of financial conservatism as consumers react to global uncertainty, many perhaps experiencing a reduction in their outgoings over the past year, leading to a focus on building up their emergency savings,” said Matt Palframan, director of financial services research at YouGov. “Of course, it varies country to country but in the UK alone we can see that as many people have managed to save more money as have borrowed or dipped into savings combined.”

“We can also see from the results how the pandemic is working as an accelerating force for certain trends, such as digital channel uptake and declining usage of cash but also as a key point of reflection where consumers are re-evaluating the role of financial services companies in society.”

He added: “Not only do consumers expect them to do more when it comes to their staff and their customers, but they also want them to act as better role models in terms of wider societal challenges such as climate change and sustainability.”

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