Planting Trees

“A society grows great when old old men plant trees they will never see”  Greek Proverb

It is no longer enough to make money. Whilst there is nothing wrong with making money, it is no longer enough in a world where connection, sustainability, authenticity and caring are being held more highly. Those organisations that are on purpose will be those that thrive. They will recruit better talent, engender more loyalty and profit from a virtuous circle of purchase and recommendation, building a sustainable culture of contribution and success.  By taking responsibility for something more than profits, we tap into a collective vibrancy that is not only good for the world but also good for business. We play a bigger game.

The pandemic has made us acutely aware of our vulnerability and our need for a more joined up, caring world. In banking, with massive choice as to whom we bank with, this lens of purpose will determine the winners. Price and profits will not be enough to shelter banks from the market or the regulators demand for sustainability, social footprint and stewardship.

We will know who gets it, from their annual reports, highlighting the things that are measured. The vast majority of enterprises will continue to prioritise and lead with economic metrics such as ROE, market share, expense management and growth. They will do so because they  suspect that’s what shareholders want to see. When they do this they will be compared to all the others doing the same thing  and stack ranked accordingly when it comes to investment allocations. Others will stand apart, recognising that economic metrics are just the ticket to the game, whilst winning is determined by a playing a bigger game. They will assert their economic credentials but defer them to the back pages of the annual report, whilst prioritising their stewardship and sustainable culture of community contribution and success based on the essence of the products and services they deliver.

A cursory review of 2019 annual reports show that category leaders are those getting this message. ICBC, the worlds largest bank doesn’t lead with its numbers. It knows its massive, but is leading with a vision of adhering to the general principle of pursuing progress while ensuring stability. In Australia, CBA who continues to lead the market places its commitment to sustainability ahead of its financial metrics . Meanwhile Citi is failing to get with the times, leading with a story of numbers and ego. Surprisingly, Starling, often held as a leading neo bank, is very metrics lead , with any sense of mission missing from the story .

Few are actually measuring and leading with impact against mission. NPS still leads the metrics, with an odd child like curiosity on “Do you like me? ”

Dynamic 4 gets it, as shown by Ben’s blog on purpose. Corporate and Social Responsibility is moving from an after thought to a Simon Sinek led focus on why and it will determine the winners.

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