For our trend barometer, consumers from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France were asked how important sustainability is to them with regards to financial investments. It became clear, that for the majority, security and return on investment remain the decisive aspects of investments and that ecological criteria does not play a major role in the investment decision process. This is different for the younger generation, where the interest in sustainability in financial investments is clearly increasing.
For an increasing number of young people, the topic of sustainability in banking products plays an increasingly important role. Banks are therefore well advised not to focus only on classic corporate customers when developing sustainable financial products for the market. The future of banks is closely linked to the favour of young private customers, and the good news for banks is that this young customer group is also more willing to accept higher premiums for more sustainability from their bank.
Yvonne Quint, Partner at BearingPoint
The interest of consumers and their demands on the topic of sustainability are increasing. Nevertheless, ecological sustainability is of little relevance to many when it comes to their own bank account - in this case, security and return continue to predominate as decisive factors. On the other hand, for 10 percent of respondents among 18- to 24 year-olds, sustainability is the most important decision criterion for investing money - even ahead of security, return and costs.
Younger customers are more willing to pay for more sustainability and would also accept higher costs. On average, in all countries surveyed, only 19 percent of all respondents are willing to pay more, whereas among 18- to 24-year-olds, as many as 30 percent are. In Germany, only about one in six of all respondents agree with higher costs, in contrast with one in four of the young age group.
The willingness to switch to another bank with a broader portfolio of environmentally sustainable products is more pronounced among younger clients. Among German respondents, only 23 percent said they could imagine switching to another provider, whereas among young Germans it was already 30 percent. It became apparent that Austrians and Swiss are more willing to change banks than Germans and French.
The survey showed that the majority of customers (65 percent) do not know whether their bank offers sustainable banking products. In Germany, the share is as high as 67 percent. Compared to 2020, the information situation has worsened. Furthermore respondents have low awareness of the sustainability rankings of banks - a significant 90 percent of respondents in all countries say that they do not know about the sustainability ranking of their bank.
The banks' communication on sustainable financial products need to be improved. Nearly two thirds of bank customers do not know whether their bank offers sustainable financial products. In fact, the share of the uninformed has even grown in the last year. It cannot be in the interest of the banks that sustainable financial products are almost a black box for the majority of their customers. This needs to be seen in the context of the sustainability of one's own bank and its importance for half of their customers. Banks are therefore urgently required to approach their own customers more actively and to provide more information about sustainable financial products.
Thomas Steiner, Global Head of Banking & Capital Markets at BearingPoint
The data used is based on an online survey conducted by YouGov Deutschland GmbH on behalf of BearingPoint, in which over 5,000 people in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France took part. The results were weighted and are representative of the respective population aged 18 and over. The survey was conducted for the second time in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and for the first time in France.