Coutts recently became the largest UK private bank and wealth manager to become a B Corp. It has taken a lot of people and a lot of work over the last two years to get through the stringent scrutiny and analysis by B Lab UK required for certification. But time is often equated with money in the business world, so we’ve been faced with a common question: why have we put so much energy into this endeavour?
Why put the business through all that effort to receive a certification that doesn’t generate any extra income, that doesn’t immediately win clients and doesn’t cut any costs? The fact is that the future of business needs to, and I believe will, look very different to any previous historical moment. Now, “doing the right thing” has never been more important.
We recently looked at the nation’s attitudes towards the practices of British corporations and the results paint a promising picture. Businesses are under more scrutiny than ever and younger consumers in particular are increasingly demanding they act responsibly. More than a quarter – or 28 per cent – of 18-to-34-year-olds said they have convinced someone to stop using a business or service because of practices they didn’t agree with. Not only does this underline the fact that word-of-mouth remains such a powerful weapon for and against a business, but it proves that firms across all industries must be able to demonstrate positive practices.
To that end, at the heart of why we worked so hard to become a B Corp is because we want to be part of this new era of businesses. And it’s not enough to just say this in a press release or on our website. Transparency and accountability should be the cornerstone of good business and our research has shown an increasing demand for companies to demonstrate they are operating in a socially and environmentally sound way. Being under such scrutiny and holding ourselves to account to maintain and improve was a key driver behind our desire to become a certified B Corporation.
And although becoming a B Corp is new, our commitment to climate and doing well by doing good is not. Coutts doesn’t have a ‘“green” set of funds for instance, all our investment funds have to meet strict criteria. Along with NatWest, we joined the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative – meaning we have committed to achieve Net Zero across all investments by 2050, have already set ourselves the target to reduce carbon emissions by 50 per cent across overall holdings by 2030 and are signatories to the Principles of Responsible Investment, Climate Action 100+ and HRH The Prince of Wales’ Terra Carta Initiative. There’s a lot going on in this space.
We work with some iconic names, some extremely successful individuals across generations and industries. We have done so for more than 320 years. Perhaps the most encouraging thing about our commitment to improve is the reaction and engagement from those clients. That is why we are committed to helping those clients that want to start their own B Corp journey. It is about building a better business community than ever before and leading by example. There is a real energy, a real desire for everyone to be better than ever and that’s why we’re so keen to do well by doing good.