An overview of our
We aim to integrate our sustainability vision into the long-term strategic business plan. This is why, in 2019 we identified five priorities in relation to each of our stakeholder groups
|Stakeholder group||Sustainability priorities||Approach and progress|
Treat our customers fairly in all our interactions
Support access to credit for underserved and underbanked consumers
Our business model and credit products are designed specifically to suit the needs of our customers who may have difficulty in accessing credit from banks and other mainstream operators. The loans we provide can make a genuine difference to their lives when their needs are pressing. Responsible lending is at the core of our business model. We start by lending small amounts to new customers, and those who repay well can build a positive credit record that will help them gain greater access to financial services in the future.
Our approach to doing business focuses on providing a positive customer experience both at the point we serve credit and the service thereafter in order to attract and retain customers. To achieve this we ensure that customers are treated fairly in all their interactions with us. During 2019, we focused on improving the customer experience by researching and developing customer profiles, and mapping their journeys with us to help deliver the best possible service via our agents and digital offerings. We will build on this work to help us attract and retain customers.
We launched a number of new products in European home credit and in response to the changing expectations of consumers looking to manage their finances online, we also began testing a digital mobile wallet product in Finland, which gives customers a transparent, easy and flexible way to pay for everyday purchases.
|Employees||Research, develop and deploy an employee value proposition dedicated to retain, develop and support our people at all levels||
Our employees and agents are vital to delivering a responsible, respectful and straightforward service to our customers and, as such, we dedicate time and resources to developing our international workforce. We focus on building an informed and engaged workforce: people who understand our purpose and how their work contributes to the delivery of our business goals, who are proud to work for the business, and who are motivated to give their best efforts to serve our customers.
In 2019, we continued to focus on engaging and listening to our people; through face-to-face employee and agent conferences and our Global People Survey, which received an excellent participation rate and achieved an overall IPF engagement score of 82%. The survey provided feedback on matters as diverse as work-life balance, leadership and sense of belonging. This allowed us to empower people managers to develop action plans targeted to the specific feedback of their teams and thereby continue to strengthen the engagement of our people.
As part of the work we undertake continually to develop our culture, we researched, developed and plan to deploy a global employee value proposition. This will describe what we stand for and offer as an employer, and communicate the attributes and qualities that our employees and agents believe make us distinctive. It will also help us deliver an employee experience that appeals to those who will thrive and perform best in our culture and in all our locations – and ultimately will provide excellent service to our customers.
We also enhanced our “Speak Up” service, which allows our people to report, in confidence, any perceived breaches of our Code of Ethics.
|Regulators||Inform opinion leaders on the importance of our business model and social purpose||
We focus on establishing transparent and engaging relationships with regulators and legislators as they play the key role in shaping the consumer finance sector. Our priority is to ensure that they understand our business model and the important contribution we make to the societies in which we operate by providing fair and transparent credit products to those who might otherwise be financially excluded. We also aim to ensure that any regulatory changes deliver a sustainable outcome that is positive for customers and businesses alike.
Our team of professionals engages with regulators through one-to-one meetings, stakeholder roundtables and industry associations. We are active members of industry associations in all our home credit and many of our digital locations, and contribute to the sector position on issues such as responsible lending and financial inclusion. Our twice-yearly Financial Wellbeing research delivers thought-leadership which reflects the views of consumers on a range of important financial and economic issues. We use this research to advocate for the needs of consumers to key groups of decision-makers and influencers.
|Communities||Utilise our community programmes to gain real understanding and empathy with our communities||
We visit the majority of our home credit customers every week and are closely connected to the communities we serve. We focus on leveraging these personal relationships with our community programme. As many of our customers have limited access to credit we aim to enable social and financial inclusion through a mix of financial education, employee volunteering and grant-giving.
Our research into financial wellbeing suggests many people in our markets do not receive a formal financial education and would value the opportunity to learn more about financial management. By promoting financial skills development online and through face-to-face initiatives we enable customers and the general public to engage with the financial sector with more confidence, and to make responsible and informed decisions about their long-term financial planning.
Our annual ‘Make a Difference in May’ volunteering event engages employees, agents and our local communities in mutually beneficial community-focused projects. 2019 was our most successful event to date, with thousands of colleagues across all our 11 markets and Group head office in the UK making a difference in their local communities. Colleagues took part in hundreds of activities including conservation, helping disadvantaged young people, and even supporting colleagues and customers who have fallen on hard times.
In 2019, 46% of our community investment focused on education and 28% on social welfare. Employees volunteered 18,205 hours in Company time and a further 11,534 hours in their own time. Employees also raised a further £49,000 for community investment purposes. In total, we invested £953,000 (2018: £729,000) in supporting local communities in 2019.
|Investors||Ensure the long-term viability of the business model through sustainable decision-making||We finance our operations through a combination of retained profits, shareholder equity, and a diversified debt portfolio comprising wholesale and retail bonds together with bank finance. To support our financial strategy and ensure our shareholders, providers of debt funding and credit rating agencies are informed about the business, we undertake a proactive investor relations engagement programme. Regular dialogue undertaken by key members of the IPF team, focuses on communicating our financial performance, governance, risk management, ESG matters and the sustainability of the business. We also provide opportunities for investors to discuss particular areas of interest or concerns, and their feedback informs management and reporting practices.|