With growing consumer pressure, as well as increasing regulatory pressures, achieving sustainability across all business practices including customer communications must be top of mind for the C-suite. Douglas Blakey speaks with Lucy Klinkenberg-Matthews Head of Sustainability at Paragon Customer Communications

Regulatory change and greater public focus on sustainability issues will have a direct influence on how communications are sent out and marketing activities are undertaken.

In the run up to COP26, sustainability is set to take centre stage in terms of media coverage. And many observers would say that that is not before time. Indeed, sustainability has never been of greater importance to businesses across all industry verticals, including the banking sector.

Lucy Klinkenberg-Matthews Head of Sustainability at Paragon Customer Communications speaks with RBI editor Douglas Blakey

But how many banks consider the carbon footprint of their marketing strategy? It is a safe bet that a growing percentage of consumers are viewing with disdain unsolicited items of marketing mail posted out. That most certainly will include unnecessary correspondence from banks and credit card issuers.

The banks say they are serious about reducing their carbon footprint. So it is vital that they can measure the carbon impact of their communications. And once that is done, assess areas where there is scope to make a real difference by greening their customer communications.

“Consumers are demanding that enterprises do the same and think about the environmental impact of their business decisions, “Lucy Klinkenberg-Matthews Head of Sustainability at Paragon Customer Communications tells RBI.

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She says that everything a business does needs to be viewed through the lens of sustainability. In addition, there need to be specific and individual targets for each department.

Banks must eliminate unnecessary communications from legacy systems

For the financial services sector, that means that banks must not just measure the carbon impact of their communications. They must identify hotspots, including unnecessary communications from legacy systems or duplicated communications across channels.

In addition, it is essential that banks team up with communications partners and other service partners with similar sustainability goals. And the track record to show that they have the ability to deliver on them.

“Climate change has a real financial impact for all businesses including banks. The public are highly engaged. They will increasingly vote with their feet and with their purses in terms of investment.

“And the investors of tomorrow, the children of today, care deeply about sustainability. They want to work for businesses that have sound sustainability credentials and they will vote with their purses.

Long way to go but banks do ‘get it’

Looking ahead, Klinkenberg-Matthews says there are grounds for optimism.

“We have seen a massive response from our clients in the financial services sector. They do get it. We see this in terms of the tender process, review meetings and when they do due diligence of their value chain that sustainability is increasingly important.

“There is a long way to go but I see greater collaboration from all parts of the value chain. There is a real challenge but also a great opportunity for financial services firms to take a lead here, “concludes Klinkenberg-Matthews.

Paragon Group is an international organisation present in over 20 countries with a global sales reach, €1.1bn turnover and more than 9,000 employees.