Banks pushed to invest more heavily in social and digital media for sustainability issues

In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, big banks are increasingly falling subject to the scrutiny of the public eye, which demands that they communicate their corporate information transparently. As the importance of transparency on financial performance, corporate governance and sustainability continues to intensify, there is a clear need for banks to invest more heavily in digital corporate and sustainable communications in order to maintain a strong positive presence.


This phenomenon is evidenced by the article “Scrutiny on Sustainability Issues Leads Banks to Respond via Social and Digital Media,” written by Lundquist’s James Osborne and Martina Scapin and published in the International Banker. The article takes into account the public action taken by the Swedish bank Nordea, which banned investment in the Dakota Access oil pipeline in response to concerns raised via email and social media by Nordea customers. As they explain, it is unsurprising that Nordea consistently ranks within the top 150 best companies in terms of its sustainability reporting.


The article highlights findings from Webranking by Comprend, an annual study conducted in collaboration with Lundquist that evaluates and ranks around 1,000 companies in Europe on their financial and sustainability reporting.The Webranking study serves as a tool for the effective measurement and management of corporate online sustainability and financial communications. Corporate websites are evaluated on the effectiveness of their financial and sustainability reporting, measured against specific criteria that has been developed and elaborated upon over the course of twenty years. According to the study, the banking sector reaches an average score of 41 out of 100, but remains at 13th place among 19 different sectors, though it falls just under the average of 42.7 for all of the European business sectors.



Greater emphasis placed on sustainability communications 


The trend towards placing greater emphasis on sustainability and CSR reporting, also spurred on by tougher regulation on non-financial information, reflects the growing realization in the private sector that the incorporation of sustainable practices into the core business model of a company attracts potential investors, positively affects the balance sheet and wins customers. However, one might argue that an effective communication of a bank’s views on its own sustainable practices is not enough to be truly considered “sustainable”. Indeed, as can be gleaned from the Nordea example cited above, banks must also take action on sustainability issues in the sector so as to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable practices.


To that end, the CSR Online Awards from Lundquist is a separate study that offers a more in-depth evaluation of how corporate sustainability and CSR projects and policies are communicated online. The research is based around seven key aspects that assesses the content published (Concrete, Exhaustive, User Friendly) as well as the level of engagement of its storytelling (Ongoing, Social, Integrated, Distinctive). According to recent study, an increasing number of leading European banks, such as UBS and Deutsche Bank, are developing their own positions on a wide range of critical issues – and they are using social media as the platform on which to do so.


If banks want to shape their image in digital communications to align themselves with the values of their stakeholders, as the research suggests, they must continue to invest in and elaborate an effective digital communications strategy, as it is crucial for banks as they engage with customers and investors.


Read the article in International Banker here


Read the Executive Summary – Webranking 2016-2017 Banking Sector here

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