Download the What Sustainability Means to Consumers Report: Financial Services


Report: Consumer Expectations for Sustainable Finance

September 2022

Report summary

Financial services brands shouldn’t confuse consumers’ low awareness of “sustainability” with indifference toward their providers’ actions. Sustainability isn’t the overriding factor for consumers when choosing their financial services providers, nor does it drive satisfaction. But it still matters to most, and it’s an opportunity for brands to differentiate. Consumers’ satisfaction with their banking providers is based on customer service and cost more than ESG ratings, but these factors don’t drive perceptions of sustainability. In short, while there may not be a silver bullet for banks seeking to improve satisfaction and sustainability in equal measure, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try.

Key Takeaways

  • ESG? Consumers say “IDK”: Consumer familiarity with sustainability-related terms including ESG is low, and there’s no consensus on what sustainability means within the context of financial services. But consumers do care about environmental, social and governance issues in investing, and they care about each relatively equally.
  • ESG isn’t a factor in bank choice: A majority of consumers are taking at least one sustainable action with their financial services providers, but they don’t pick their bank based on ESG factors. Similarly, ESG investing isn’t a priority among investors, but consumers are interested in increasing their investments.
  • Corporate actions speak louder than ESG ratings: Above all, consumers feel it’s important for financial services brands to treat people well—employees and communities alike. And while consumers are very satisfied with their banking relationships, there’s room for brands to improve perceptions of their sustainability, and in doing so improve satisfaction even more.


The analysis behind this report is drawn from two surveys fielded June 24-28, 2022, and July 5-7, 2022, among representative samples of roughly 2,200 U.S. adults each, with unweighted margins of error of +/-2 percentage points.

About the author

A headshot photograph of Charlotte Principato
Charlotte Principato
Lead Financial Services Analyst

Charlotte Principato previously worked at Morning Consult as a lead financial services analyst covering trends in the industry.