Conister Bank has taken a further step along the path towards a more sustainable future.
Conister Bank intends to play a major role in tackling climate change by helping to finance the Isle of Man to a greener future. As a financial institution, they fully appreciate that this will require new approaches in many sectors, sharing knowledge and using the brands influence to transition to a low-carbon way of life.
As we accelerate towards the fundamental changes in our economies and lifestyles, Conister hopes to achieve a shared prosperity for both current and future generations.
Already this year Conister has made clear its commitment to supporting climate change by aligning their lending portfolio to support Green Finance.
Conister has now finalised an ESG and Sustainability Plan to ensure its key focus in sustainable business practices benefit its customers as they continue to grow their product offerings providing sustainable choices across the business.
ESG – environmental, social and governance – is factored into all of Conister Bank’s decisions, embracing sustainability.
In the past, the finance sector as a whole could have been accused of being slow to pick up on sustainability but in recent years that has changed, and Conister Bank is part of that.
Managing Director Douglas Grant explained: ‘Conister Bank wants to make an impact for the better.
‘The momentum towards greater sustainability in the financial services sector has grown significantly in recent years.’
Sustainability and ESG are now at the forefront of thinking for commerce, consumers, customers and even governments.
And, while the take-up of sustainability and ESG in the past 15 years may have been slow, there has been a marked increase in recognition of the importance of both, particularly during and after the Covid-19 lockdowns, which have concentrated minds on the value of sustainable business practices.
Governments regard the financial services industry as a key driver for change, a role that Conister Bank has happily embraced in recent years, modifying its day-to-day operations, and existing practices and measuring what it does against environmental, social and governance objectives.
The transition to cleaner, more resilient, and sustainable growth is ‘reshaping’ the global economy, Douglas said, as industries, institutions and whole countries look to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change and environmental degradation.
‘This social and economic transition is having significant and far-reaching implications for the financial sector as the financial risks and opportunities become more apparent,’ said Douglas.
‘Transformation is accelerating, to match the scale of the challenges we face as we move towards a net zero economy and meet the changing social expectations.
‘The change in the agenda is in full swing and at Conister Bank we are determined to remain well-informed of developments and lead from the front and to seize the opportunities that will be created.
‘The time had come to move from looking at climate change and the environment from a corporate social responsibility perspective and instead see it as a financial and strategic imperative – in other words, good business.
‘Sustainability and being sustainable are not just about our response to climate change and scarce resources.
‘It includes ensuring that we have the right governance model in place for our business and its long-term success that is also accountable and transparent with customers and stakeholders.
‘We aim to operate a business that acts responsibly, is sustainable and which promotes sustainability in what it does.’
That has been part of the Conister Bank vision for some time now and the change in approach has become clearer this year.
Douglas added: ‘The best long-term results will be created with the essential balance between customers, employees, shareholders and the people and institutions outside of the organisation.
‘The financial sector has taken on a new role and is focusing more on how financial services companies, including Conister Bank, can promote sustainability through business activities such as lending and deposit taking.’
Conister Bank’s work on sustainability is built on a commercial foundation and the bank has responded and identified the role it can play as a finance company.
That means a focus on supporting customer progress and enabling clients to make sustainable choices and decisions.
‘From a commercial perspective, we want to offer funding solutions that support sustainable development and simplify sustainable investment, at the same time as increasing knowledge about and more widespread adoption of sustainability,’ he said.
Targets will be updated to reflect better methods and data.
‘We are becoming wiser as we go, and we are taking our stakeholders on this journey with us by being transparent about our work and approach.’
Conister Bank’s ESG and Sustainability Plan sets out its vision for a responsible banking industry, serving and contributing to an inclusive society that uses its natural resources sustainably.
The bank wants to play a leading role in achieving society’s goals, using its products, services, and relationships to accelerate the fundamental changes in economies and lifestyles necessary to achieve shared prosperity for both current and future generations.
The vision is expanded into six key principles aligned with the framework for Responsible Banking practices (UNPRB):
- Alignment of business strategy to be consistent with individuals’ needs and society’s goals as expressed in the Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Climate Agreement, and relevant national regional frameworks.
- Impact and target-setting to increase positive and decrease negative impacts, while publishing targets.
- Working responsibly with clients and customers to encourage sustainable practices and enable activities that create ‘shared prosperity for current and future generations.
- Consulting, engaging, and partnering with relevant stakeholders to achieve society’s goals.
- The bank will implement its commitment to its principles through effective governance and a culture of responsible banking.
- As part of its commitment to transparency and accountability, Conister Bank will review periodically its individual and complementation of these principles.
Over the past two years, Conister Bank has already made a number of significant moves towards greater sustainability and helping the environment.
It has developed a Green Finance Strategy to make it possible for individuals and businesses to achieve their society goals.
Moves to digitisation have brought benefits in terms of improved service, which is quicker and less paper intensive, and Conister is also gearing up to help its business customers in the motor trade so that they are ready for increases in the electric vehicle market.
Conister Bank has signed approved partner terms with a number of local electric vehicle specialists in car dealerships and is keen to expand in that area.
As an independent bank, Conister can adapt to client and market needs quickly, which is why it is in a strong position to make an impact by providing green finance options.
An online lending platform has played a key part in enabling its business clients to provide their customers with more rapid access to finance, while retaining all aspects of security and keeping Conister Bank’s traditional personal touch.
The benefits of these moves were amplified during the lockdowns.
Lending rates are at an all-time low for customers embarking on green projects and the bank will provide extended repayment terms of up to 10 years, an increase on the usual five years.
This recognises the fact that many ‘green’ projects, such as house modernisations to make homes more sustainable, are expensive. By spreading the cost over a longer period, it means by the time the loan has been paid off, the benefits to the customer should have already had an effect.
It will also help clients in the housing market, with sustainability adding value to a property.
Earlier this year Conister Bank announced it was mapping out a pathway to reduce its own carbon footprint.
It followed the findings of a consultants’ report that Conister Bank’s total carbon emissions in 2019 came to 135.9 tonnes – the equivalent to the average annual energy use in 40 homes or driving 350,000 miles in an average size car.
The report set a target for Conister Bank of reducing the 2019 emissions figure by 42% by 2029, which would see the amount come down to 78.9 tonnes.
That is coupled with the longer-term target for the Isle of Man as a whole, of net zero emissions by 2050.
The bank has set up a Green Team to drive a cultural change internally. This will be achieved through education, raising awareness, and simply asking their employees to modify habits and attitudes in their everyday life which can lead to a healthier planet.
Conister believes that everyone within the business has a responsibility and the potential to make a big difference not just for Conister Bank… but for the larger world and its future.
Douglas added: ‘We’ve worked hard as a team to identify what needs to be done and how to create a vision that is integrated it into our long-term approach.
‘The carbon footprint report opened our eyes on things that would never have occurred to us, even things such as what hotels we stay in on business travel.’
Conister Bank hopes that by the services it offers and the example it sets, it will encourage other businesses to follow suit.
‘A lot of people wonder if they can make a difference and the truth is we all can,’ said Douglas.
‘None of us can change the world on our own, but we can change how we act and how that influences others.’