A lot of solid groundwork has been done to move financial services on from the recent financial crisis but, despite the progress made, the industry continues to encounter testing times. New geopolitical challenges are emerging alongside the more persistent problems of a low interest rate environment, low growth in the Eurozone, risk and overarching financial services culture.
In response, we have seen financial services organizations increasingly merge their sustainability and traditional business strategies. People across the industry have accepted that to achieve long-term, stable and secure growth we must incorporate and anticipate the key sustainability opportunities, risks and behaviors.
At EY, we’re very clear that pursuing and delivering sustainable growth for our clients, our own business, the people who work for us, and the communities we work in, is of paramount importance as we move towards delivering our Vision 2020 strategy for growth.
We know that in practice, building a better working world means being part of the industry-wide conversation, and, more importantly, working out how to turn this conversation into positive actions. So, as well as reporting on our progress and ambitions on this, our Corporate Sustainability report also aims to provide a platform for structured discussion on sustainability within the financial services sector.
Looking at the three core sections of the report, I am encouraged by the picture painted by EY’s interactions with, and understanding of, Our Clients, Our People and Our Communities, and confident that we are working with these groups to help to lay the foundations for increasingly sustainable growth across our industry.
Building a Better Working World in action
Some key highlights for me from our work in 2014 include:
- The range and level of support we have provided our clients across EMEIA FSO on their sustainable and customer-related services.
- In France, we supported a co-operative banking group in the design and product deployment of a mobile wallet solution to replace cash. Not only is this a new and more sustainable user experience at the point of sale, it’s cheaper to use for customers and cheaper to produce for banks. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a tool which tackles some of the barriers to financial inclusion.
- The increase in our external female Partner recruitment. We have more than doubled the number of female Partners hired externally compared to 2013.
- The expansion of the Vantage Program to cover a global pool of high-impact entrepreneurs working in developing markets.
- The reduction of EMEIA FSO’s air-travel carbon footprint by 7% per full-time equivalent employee compared with 2010. This has put us on track to achieving the 12% reduction target set in 2010 for the end of the upcoming year.
On a global scale, 2015 is a big year for sustainable development, with the Sustainable Development Goals due to replace the current UN model, the Millennium Development Goals. Taking the global financial crisis into account, the UN has increased the number of goals from eight MDGs to 17 SDGs. I’m especially pleased to see the addition of Goals 4 and 8, focusing on education, sustainable economic growth, and full and productive employment, which aligns well with our commitment to the Strategy for Youth Employment (S4YE) initiative.
Despite our successes, we’re aware that we still remain part-way through a journey towards achieving sustainable growth. I am happy about what we have accomplished to date but equally motivated to continue at this pace and expand our services, programs and impact. Our ambition is to become the leading sustainable organization within our industry. This is something we can only achieve through continuing to develop the shared goals and values that you will see in this report.
I truly hope you enjoy reading the report and seeing how we are delivering on our commitment to Building a Better Working World in financial services.
EMEIA Financial Services Regional Managing Partner