Making sustainable banking into a concrete reality for retail customers
So many people, so many different ideas about sustainability. Rabobank's awareness of this is key to what the bank would like to achieve in the area of sustainability for retail customers by 2020. Sustainable banking starts with clarity about products and services. It also means providing support to those customers who have the express desire to take their involvement with sustainability a step further.
People are responsible for taking the initiative to improve sustainability because they make up society and the economy. They often have ideas for improving the balance between prosperity and wellbeing and between prosperity and the climate. And they have a vested interest in attaining this equilibrium.
What do retail customers expect from sustainable banking? Is it enough that Rabobank is the largest bank in the Netherlands for green savings, investments and financing?
Retail customers expect the bank's approach and actions to be in line with their own values and ambitions. Those are not the same for everyone.
For a lot of people, a key condition is that Rabobank is transparent about how products and services are structured, and how they work. In addition, many savers and investors are keen to know how Rabobank invests the deposits they have made. And they want to be certain that this is not being done in controversial sectors.
Making a targeted contribution to increased sustainability
Some people want to go the extra mile. For example, they want to make a targeted contribution toward making the economy more sustainable with their savings or investments, or they want to make serious attempts to achieve energy savings in their home. And there are people who want to join forces with others to improve the quality of life in a neighbourhood or village.
What Rabobank wants to achieve
With its approach to sustainability, Rabobank is responding to the wide-ranging expectations of retail customers. Rabobank wants to make sure it has got all those things that everyone feels are the common-sense minimum requirements when it comes to sustainable banking in place. For people who clearly want more, Rabobank offers specific products and services. These are the most important ambitions that Rabobank wants to fulfil for retail customers by 2020:
- Products that are easy to understand and services that are accessible for everyone.
- Transparency for customers about how their savings and investments are being invested. This includes details of that percentage of the financing that is temporarily not in line with the sustainability policy at any given time, the reason for this, what we are doing about it and how this percentage goes on to develop over time. Rabobank also actively involves retail customers in the dialogue about sustainability that it has with the businesses that are in their investment portfolios.
- For customers who want to take things further, Rabobank offers a distinctive portfolio of products and services in the area of sustainable investment. This includes products and services that are focused not on financial returns alone, but also on having a positive impact on society. Rabobank also offers products with a direct relationship between savers and investors and innovative sustainable enterprises.
- Rabobank enters into a dialogue with young people at important moments in their lives. We want to function as a coach and provide support to young people in being smart about money, for example via partnerships with educational institutions and mobile apps.
- If customers want it, they are provided with optimum advice about how to structure their finances in a way that reflects their sustainability ambitions. The focus here is on savings, investments, pensions and mortgages. For example, Rabobank provides retail customers with information about the opportunities and financial implications of making their home more sustainable, and offers products making it possible for them to do this.
- Rabobank brings together retail customers who want to improve the quality of life in their village or neighbourhood through small-scale sustainability initiatives, for example projects in the areas of care, housing or generating sustainable energy. Rabobank supports this by bringing customers together with experts in the field and by providing advice.
Investing in making homes more sustainable
Rabobank is very focused on helping retail customers make their homes more sustainable. Sustainability in the field of energy requires investments, but also yields returns in the form of lower costs and an increase in the value of the property. In other words, it is about investing and then reaping the rewards.
To speed up the growth in the sustainability of the housing stock, Rabobank helped establish the Dutch National Energy Savings Fund in the Netherlands, which lets homeowners take out a loan at an attractive interest rate, which they can then use to make their home more energy-efficient.
Local Rabobanks in the Netherlands are also organising Smart Refurbishment meetings, where retail customers can meet experts in the field of energy conservation and the generation of sustainable energy, as well as contractors and Rabobank advisors. This is a great example of what being ‘invested in each other’ is all about: private individuals get to make their homes more sustainable and more comfortable which, in turn, creates new opportunities for businesses, with Rabobank bringing everyone together, providing expertise, networking and financing.