We published our 2019 Impact Report this week and thought we’d share some highlights from the past year that we’re proud of with our customers.
1. We launched our new Responsible Banking Policy
Our commitment to responsible banking guides how we lend money, how we support social and environmental issues and, most importantly, how we look after our customers and staff.
This year we published our new Responsible Banking Policy that we developed in consultation with customers and stakeholders to clearly states how we will use the money our customers entrust to us.
We were proud to become the first Australia bank to explicitly rule out lending to the live animal export and intensive animal farming sectors, and we maintained our commitment to never lend to the fossil fuel sector.
Importantly our policy also reaffirms our commitment to responsible lending to personal customers which includes only lending an amount of money that people can afford to repay.
2. We attracted a record number of new customers and we continued to grow sustainably
We continued to attract even more people to join our bank with our promise of responsible banking with a record number of new customers signing up in 2019. Making it easier to join online and increasing our brand awareness through our clean money campaign were two of the key drivers of this growth. We also saw growth across lending and deposits grow much higher than the banking sector as a whole, resulting in strong financial results for the year.
3. We invested in new technology and branches to make banking with us easier and more accessible.
Throughout the year we delivered technology projects that enabled us to create a better experience for our customers. These included a new online system to help new customers join the bank more easily, upgrades to our mobile app, new systems at our contact centre, and implementing our first robotic processes to automate tasks that can free our staff up to spend more time serving customers.
We also worked with accessibility experts, Design for Dignity, to improve the accessibility of our online and physical spaces, and our products and services. We implemented their recommendations on improving our website, shopping centre accessibility, signage, communications materials, and branch design. Branch design improvements included the installation of tactile building signage, increased instructional signage contrast, appropriate clearance around walkways and entrances, and choice of furniture were also incorporated into the design of our new Canberra and Brisbane (West End) branches.
4. Our lending that benefits people and the planet grew to 9.6% of our portfolio
You might have heard the term ‘impact investing’ before. At its simplest, impact investing is where investors seek to combine financial return with a positive social or environmental impact.
We use the term impact finance to describe our lending and investments to businesses and organisations that create positive impact for people and the planet. This year our impact finance portfolio grew to $610.7 million, representing 9.6% of our total assets.
We lent to projects that address affordable housing, that create housing for women and children escaping violence, and specialist housing for people living with a disability. We’re also looking at financing more sustainably designed homes, and smaller scale renewable energy projects.
Our focus on impact finance means we’ll continue to meet our customers’ expectations that we invest their money in positive ways and increase our collective impact.
5. We supported positive impact with $1.3 million from the Bank Australia Impact Fund.
This year we invested over $1.3 million in projects and partnerships that create positive impact for people and the planet. Through our Customer Grants program we provided up to $10,000 in funding to 33 projects run by Bank Australia customers to support action on issue like diversity and inclusion, educational disadvantage, conservation, and climate change. We also launched our first ever Community Renewable Energy grants program supporting five projects with a total of $110,000 dollars to help grow the capacity of the sector.
6. We launched our new Reconciliation Action Plan
We were proud to launch our fourth Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) this year which represents the next step on our journey towards reconciliation between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It’s also our first ‘Stretch’ level RAP, an advanced plan for businesses that have a strong track record of implementing meaningful and measurable initiatives to advance reconciliation.
We’re working to create more employment opportunities for Aboriginal people, and to increase the number of Aboriginal-owned businesses in our supply chain. We’re also using our voice to support important public conversations around the recognition of the continuing connection to country and enduring culture of First Nations people by pledging our public support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
These are just a few of the highlights of the past financial year, you can read more about how we performed in our 2019 Impact Report, and if numbers are more your thing, you can check out our 2019 Financial Report here.