Mazars, the international audit and advisory firm, has published the results of a study focusing on responsible banking practices. Keeping in mind the importance which environmental, social and governance factors are assuming in determining the parameters of responsible banking, Mazars has assessed how banks are embedding sustainability into their commercial practices.
Whether it is supporting environmental initiatives or acknowledging its societal impact, the study acknowledges that the banking industry is on a mission to operate responsibly and integrate sustainability into its very purpose and value proposition. More recently, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the importance of the positive role the banking sector can play, with both governments and regulators looking to banks to provide support to corporates and customers, keep the economy going, and help mitigate the economic effects of the Covid-19 crisis.
In order to assist banks and their stakeholders ascertain where they stand, this benchmarking study examined the sustainability practices of a sample of 30 banks who are UNEP-FI Members and/or signatories to the Principles for Responsible Banking. It also compares them and identifies, where possible, examples of best practice. Mazars’ research is based on publicly available information, including the banks’ CSR reports.
Mazars’ assessment shows that although many banks report working towards embedding sustainability, this is still not always reflected in their corporate strategy, governance and policies. Much work remains to be done for environmental, social and governance factors to be fully integrated in banks’ risk management framework. Overall, only three out of the 30 banks assessed were identified as demonstrating best practice across a wide range of sustainability factors, with 10 banks identified as showing a sustainable approach across some factors, and 17 banks identified as indicating limited evidence of a sustainable approach across most factors.
According to Mazars Malta Managing Partner Anthony Attard, “The findings of this study are an important eye-opener for banks in that the current crisis can be an opportunity to look beyond immediate priorities and help them re-assess their purpose and values. More specifically, these findings can assist them in adapting some of the best practices which emerge from the Mazars report in order to integrate environmental, social and governance factors in their decision-making on investments, for the good of the business, their clients and society.”
The full report can be accessed HERE