The Co-operative Bank’s decision to conduct a poll among its customers on its ethical policy has been described as “essential” for the future of banking by the chief executive of the sustainable finance industry’s trade body.
Simon Howard, from the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF), said the move showed the bank saw customers as “key partners” in its efforts to regain trust.
The bank announced the poll on Thursday, saying it would help it “refresh” the ethical policy which was first introduced in 1992 and has been reviewed four times since.
The decision to review for a fifth time comes after a torrid 18 months or so, in which the Co-op fell into financial difficulties and was forced to sell off around two-thirds of the bank to outside investors, including hedge funds.
But Howard said, “Engaging with customers should be a key part of any organisation’s values strategy. UKSIF therefore welcomes the Co-operative Bank’s customer poll on banking values and ethics.”
Speaking more broadly about the public’s trust of the banking sector, he added, “Banks remain under scrutiny following the fall-out from the financial crisis.
“Excessive pay, mis-selling and poor customer service in times of difficulty has left them with the huge task of renewing their businesses to regain the trust of customers and wider society. A straightforward way to do this is to ask what customers value and need, take the feedback seriously and then use it to provide a better and more responsive service.”
The Co-op customer survey will run until June 30. Niall Booker, the bank’s chief executive, described it as “an important milestone” in the organisation’s “transformation“.
Photo: Karen Bryan via Flickr