UK challenger banks lead the charge in prioritising sustainability


Hexaware Mobiquity recently unveiled eye-opening insights in its “Sustainability: Challenger vs. Traditional Banks Report 2023.”

The comprehensive study involved 150 banking executives across the UK, shedding light on an interesting development: challenger banks are ahead of the curve in embracing sustainability, treating it as a critical board-level agenda.

While 69% of established banks acknowledge the critical role of sustainability, they face a significant hurdle: 25% need to overcome entrenched cultural norms to fully embrace sustainable practices. Challenger banks, though smaller in scale, have demonstrated a more agile approach. A notable 52% recognise the importance of sustainability, with a majority showcasing this commitment at the highest levels — 59% report on sustainability measures at board meetings, and 56% have appointed dedicated sustainability representatives within their leadership. This proactive stance contrasts with their traditional counterparts, of which only 49% and 52% can claim the same, respectively.

Furthermore, digital transformation emerges as a common thread in the sustainability narrative. A significant proportion of both traditional (79%) and challenger banks (73%) are employing digital strategies to enhance sustainable outcomes.

Hexaware Mobiquity’s VP Global Digital Banking, Peter-Jan Van De Venn, observed, “Challenger banks are making the most meaningful progress in cementing sustainability as a board-level issue, to ensure it remains a defining factor in key business decisions. Whilst traditional banks do recognise the strategic importance of sustainability, it will take time to cut through the layers of legacy processes and technologies before they can drive real change.”

The survey also underlines the tangible benefits banks are reaping from sustainable practices. For traditional banks, cost savings stood out, with 32% acknowledging financial efficiency gained through sustainable digital products and services. Positive brand image, customer loyalty, and talent acquisition followed closely. Challenger banks identified staying competitive (31%) as a prime advantage, alongside societal impact and customer retention, each scoring 25%.

Van De Venn further commented, “These findings indicate that both traditional and challenger banks have a lot to gain by becoming more sustainable. Their efforts to do so will be increasingly key to driving innovation and maintaining the loyalty of their customers and employees. As technology and sustainability become further intertwined, banks will be all-too-aware that their employees and customers expect them to be conscious of the environment and adopt socially responsible business practices. Emerging technologies can help them make the intelligent decisions needed to effect this shift – turning data into the fuel that can drive change and unlock a greener future.”

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