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University of East London

Business School

MBA International Business

FEM205 Finance Modeling


and Information System

CSR in Banking and


Financial Services

Word counts: 3077


(Excluding TOC, appendix & references)

AZIDAH MOB HASSAN


Student No.: u0855845
Cohort 14B
Table of Contents

1. INTRODUCTION.............................................................................................................3

2. WHAT IS CSR? ................................................................................................................3

3. CSR IN MALAYSIA ........................................................................................................7

3.1 The Influence of the Government and Foreign Affiliates on the Development of
CSR in Malaysia. 8

3.2 How Banks and Financial Services Integrate CSR into their Products, Policies,
Business Strategies and Processes (Or Operating Environment) 10

4. EUROPEAN BANKS CSR PRACTICES .....................................................................12

5. MALAYSIAN BANKS CSR PRACTICES ...................................................................15

6. WHAT FACTORS MOTIVATE CUSTOMERS TO DEAL WITH BANKS


AND FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS ........................................................................16

6.1 Relating to CSR on Customer‟s Banking Selection Criteria (i.e. Islamic Banking
Products or Conventional Banking Products) 16

6.2 Relating CSR to Bank Customer Satisfaction 17

7. CONCLUSIONS ..............................................................................................................18

APPENDIX 1 ..........................................................................................................................20

Corporate Sustainability Assessment for DJSI: Sustainability Leaders


2008/2009: Banks and Financial Services Sector 20

8. REFERENCES .................................................................................................................23
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CSR IN BANKING AND FINANCIAL SERVICES

1. INTRODUCTION

In the past decade, we have seen many companies, specifically from Banking and Financial
Services Sector, commonly known as Financial Institutions (FIs), taking long term,
continuous and partnership approach to practise and improve its corporate social
responsibility (CSR) strategies as the main business agenda to foster sustainability. CSR is
beyond philanthropic activities, or even law and compliances; it is about integrating social,
environment and ethical business practices into business strategies. Many international FIs
e.g. Citibank, HSBC, signed the Equator Principles to support socially responsible business
or ethical business practice. Equator Principles is a common set of social and environment
principles for FIs to adhere for managing project financing.

It is the aim of this paper to explore how FIs integrate CSR and improve responsibility in
their day to day operations to protect society and the environment at large and how
consumers select which product type (Islamic or conventional) to patronise in relation to
CSR and how FIs leverage CSR standards to enhance consumer satisfaction.

2. WHAT IS CSR?

CSR has a catalytic role especially to influence other businesses to make monies in a more
responsible way to satisfy its customer‟s requirements. Douglas, Doris and Johnson, (2004)
proves consumer awareness on social responsibility has grown from 28% in 1998 to 46% in
2001 where customers boycott products deemed irresponsible and detrimental to the society
and environment. Firms‟ legitimacy and survival will be at stake if they ignore this. A recent
example is the product scandal in China, where the value of the company stumbled and its
operations was almost shut down, facing lawsuits and staring at 700mil compensation claims
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Chinese_milk_scandal).

CSR is also closely related to quality management, “The European Foundation for Quality
Management (EFQM) Excellence Model” and the “Malcolm Baldrige National Quality
Award” has put up “society results” and “ethical behaviour” as one of its criterion (Douglas,

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Doris and Johnson, (2004, p.387). Castka and Balzarova (2007) outline various standards in
Table 1 and this includes ISO 26000, the new international standard for social responsibility.
Therefore it is extremely important for companies to report their social performance or
ethical behaviour for consumers and potential consumers to have some indicator to measure
their responsible performance.

FIs recognise CSR as a “source of business risk” as well as “source of business opportunity”
and it could have a damaging effect such as risk to reputation and loss of customers if not
properly managed (Decker, 2004).

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Thus, CSR is the ongoing commitment of companies to safeguard public interest or to


demonstrate sustainable benefits or to display their corporate social or responsible
performance. By effectively committing to CSR, FIs reap long-term corporation and
commercial benefits specifically to lower the risk deriving from the economic, social and
environmental developments (refer figure 2).

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3. CSR IN MALAYSIA

“CSR practices of Malaysian companies were still very low” but started to improve in 2000
(Amran and Devi (2008, p.389) and its growth has been considerable from just serving the
community or philanthropic activities to becoming a core business value (refer figure 3).

The Institute of Corporate Responsibility Malaysia (ICRM) (formerly known as CSR


Malaysia) was established in 2006 to embrace, promote and develop CSR in Malaysia and is
supported by the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC), Bursa Malaysia (Bursa) and
Khazanah Nasional (Khazanah).

ICRM encourages Malaysian companies to practise and incorporate global CSR agendas
such as ISO 14000 Environmental Management Standard and signing up with CSR
regulators and strategic partners e.g. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to
achieve CSR goals.

CSR reporting and disclosure was made compulsory for Public-listed companies (PLCs) in
Budget 2006 and Bursa provided its directives and framework (refer Figure 4) for PLCs to

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adopt, whilst the Silver Book programme was introduced by Khazanah to provide guidelines
for government-linked companies (GLCs) (Raslan, J. (2007)).

All these CSR initiatives and practices in Malaysia aim to promote sustainable development
and to enable Malaysian companies to differentiate themselves from competition specifically
the Asian region.

3.1 The Influence of the Government and Foreign Affiliates on the Development of CSR
in Malaysia.

Amran and Devi (2008) reveal that CSR developments in Malaysia are heavily linked to
government influence, aspiration and commitment to become a fully developed and
sustainable nation by the year 2020. To encourage private firms‟ participation, the
government introduced the CSR Award in 2007, and subsequently CR Award was
introduced by ICRM in 2008 to rank and evaluate PLCs performance similar to
FTSE4Good or Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI). This study proves that
government influence is evident where firms will not be given future contracts if they fail
to promote better community involvement and environmental protection; and tax

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deductions will be given to firms as incentives if they contribute to any of the community
projects i.e. education, health, housing, infrastructure, Information, Communication and
Technology (ICT).

Malaysia‟s economy is very much dependent on foreign direct investments (FDI) or


foreign affiliate specifically Multinational companies (MNCs) that operate in Malaysia.
Investor countries like Japan, USA, and UK are known to have high priority on CSR
standards and issues. Thus it is necessary to comply with these pre-requisites for
Malaysian companies to continue doing business with them. A Dutch financial group,
Rabobank International, widely known as one of the leaders in promoting CSR and
socially responsible investment (SRI) is expanding its business operations in Malaysia
because it sees Malaysia as one of the global leaders in promoting sustainable agriculture
(e.g. bio-diesel from palm oil). (http://www.csr-
malaysia.org/index2.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2&pop=1&page=0&Item
id=9)

Despite the current global financial turmoil, Malaysia‟s direction is positive towards CSR
agenda. As announced “at the tabling of Budget 2010, RM1.5bil would be allocated to
promote green technology and a RM100mil CSR fund”. However CSR Asia (Malaysia)
director, Netterstrom indicated that “CSR in Malaysia is not widely practiced by
Malaysian companies” since they see it as “unwanted cost” and CSR was driven by the
“communications department” instead of the top management. Figure 5 shows Malaysian
companies have relevant codes of conduct, governance and policies, but overall are still
poor in terms of reporting their CSR strategies and environmental issues. These are the
areas where Malaysia needs “a big push”.
(http://thestar.com.my/starbizicrm/story.asp?file=/2009/10/31/starbizicrm/5011178&sec=
starbizicrm).

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3.2 How Banks and Financial Services Integrate CSR into their Products, Policies,
Business Strategies and Processes (Or Operating Environment)

Below are some of the key challenges as identified by the authors in this study;

i) Products (Impact to the Marketplace and Supply Chain)

FIs need to impose standards for high risk sectors to minimise the risk in investing
into „sin-companies‟, that pollute or damage the social and environment issues which
can substantially damage their stature since banking customers are drawn to products
or brands with good reputations.

Suppliers need to adapt their business operations to CSR agendas to ensure quality of
the material supply thus more products can be sold and pose less risk to recall

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defective products. During difficult times, suppliers may go out of business and this
will affect the supply chain. FIs then need to help their supplier by implementing
„ethical procurement‟ policy for suppliers to continue doing business with them.
Keating et al. (2008).

Marketing has an impact to the marketplace where it can influence customers on what
or how good a product offering is. Thus FIs can use Marketing as a tool to translate
into their CSR agenda. Decker (2004, p.724) states that “the co-operative bank found
that promotion of its ethical policy through media has increased its market share”.

ii) Policies (Impact to the Workplace and the People)

Human Resource policies (i.e. health and safety, security benefits, fair treatments)
that comply with CSR agendas can easily attract and retain employees which in turn
will reduce cost of employee turnover, recruitment and training (Tsoutsoura, M
(2004). “78% of employee would rather work for an ethical and reputable company
than receive a higher salary” (http://www.csrnetwork.com/story.asp?id=55). This is
central for FIs not only to foster customers‟ attraction and retention where customers
often choose to patronise with FIs that have highly skilled and experienced staff, but
also to enable FIs to develop new innovative solutions and products.

Environmental-friendly practices in the workplace, i.e. waste and recycle (e.g.


paperless, saves energy), travelling and commuting (e.g. flexible working hours). A
close example is the Data Centres, where it is known to consume more energy;
operating 24x7 with many servers. Thus FIs need to employ „green technologies‟ to
saves electricity and reduce carbon footprints. The use of unified communications
e.g. telephone, video and voice conferencing can help to reduce the travel costs of its
employees.

By improving the working conditions and increasing employee satisfaction, FIs can
dramatically reduce human errors (Tsoutsoura, M (2004). This will increase employee
productivity and results in improved quality of the products and services.

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iii) Business strategies and processes it operates (Impact to the Environment and the
Community)

One of FIs roles is to create the right balance for sustainable economic growth thus,
their involvement or participation in the community and environment is crucial, i.e. to
promote fee-free or low-interest products, involve in charitable activities, ensure their
banking customers or depositors are protected and solving social problems e.g.
financial inclusion (e.g. provide micro-financial products and services for the benefit
of the poor or low income customers, provide continuous education and awareness to
customer on financial gains and issues).

In Malaysia, Perbadanan Insurans Deposit Malaysia (PIDM) was established in 2005 to


provide consumer protection and Affin Bank was among the first bank in Malaysia to
lower all its credit cards finance charges from 18% to 9.99%
(http://thestar.com.my/starbizicrm/pdf/0607147_2.pdf).

4. EUROPEAN BANKS CSR PRACTICES

Many European firms today have established accountability and transparency as their
business agenda to demonstrate sustainable development (refer figure 6a, 6b and 6c).

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Details of DJSI sustainability leaders 2008/2009 for Banks and Financial Services sector can
be found in Appendix 1.

The study of Weber (2005) discloses that many European FIs integrate CSR throughout their
operating environment and products.

Below are how the European FIs integrate CSR in their business operations and strategies;

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 use only 1/3 energy of an employee in comparison to its competitor (1977 kWh/person
versus 6600kWh/person
 promote gender equality in terms of salaries
 encourage employees to contribute in decision making process
 offset CO2 emissions of its personnel commutes by planting the forests
 branch offices are handicapped accessible
 print documents in large prints and Braille
 communicate with suppliers in seminar, workshop on environmental, ethical standards
and issues
 financing or investing in countries, firms, projects and sectors that are socially or
environmentally safe and protected i.e. education, tourism, housing, healthcare,
renewable energy, organic products, mass transportation. Table 2 shows the criteria for
not financing projects.

Below is how the European FIs integrates CSR into their products;

 „green products‟ offer interest reduction to private and commercial firms


 „micro-credit funds‟ allow customer to donate part of the interest earned to the
development projects
 „environmental-friendly mortgages‟ offer less interest if borrower fulfil more points on
the checklist
 „green credit funds‟ in Netherlands offer tax reduction if at least 70% of the money is
invested in green projects

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5. MALAYSIAN BANKS CSR PRACTICES

The Malaysian Banking Sector has undergone structural change, transformation and
consolidation thru market liberation and capital market deregulation. As of now the
consolidation process had resulted in 9 anchor FIs from 58. Malaysia FIs have put up a lot of
initiatives to comply with CSR standards and figure 7 shows Malaysia FIs ranking from other
firms from Asia Pacific countries.

CIMB Group, ranked 3rd by Asian Sustainability Rating (ASR) has set up a „CIMB
Foundation‟ and pledged RM100mil with a focus on education, community and sports
developments. CIMB allocates a fund for its Community Link (CL) projects and customers
can make their contributions by transacting with the bank. For 2009, the fund for its CL
projects is expected at RM16.5mil for over 150 projects. This includes the purchase of motor

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vehicles, computers, dialysis machines, building of wheelchair ramps, medical and other
supplies for the disabled and underprivileged.
(http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/9/23/business/4739344&sec=business).

Public Bank Berhad (PBB), ranked 6th, focuses its CSR on nation building, enhancement and
promotion of the marketplace, workplace, customer care, education, community and the
environment. To address the global climate issues, PBB “committed RM1mil to plant 20,000
trees at the Kuala Lumpur Flood Retention Pond”.
(http://ww2.publicbank.com.my/cnt_press244.html).

Maybank, the largest FIs in Malaysia and ranked 11th, focuses its CSR on its people and the
workplace („work-life balance‟) and received the Prime Minister‟s CSR Awards in 2007 for
its outstanding workplace practices. Maybank was also the first FI in the country to initiate
„ethical trust fund‟ in 2003 to encourage investment that is not only profitable but ethical and
socially responsible at the same time. (Amran et al, 2006;
(http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2006/9/30/bizweek/15574363&sec=bizweek).

6. WHAT FACTORS MOTIVATE CUSTOMERS TO DEAL WITH BANKS AND


FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS

The Banking and Financial Services Sector is highly competitive thus FIs need to
“understand their customers‟ perceptions and attitudes in terms of banking selection criteria
used” (Dusuki and Abdullah (2006, p.148) and customers‟ satisfactions in order to
understand what drive customers to patronise with them.

6.1 Relating to CSR on Customer’s Banking Selection Criteria (i.e. Islamic Banking
Products or Conventional Banking Products)

There are distinctive differences between Islamic and conventional banking especially the
business practices, values and its operations. Islamic banking is governed by the law or
principles of Shariah. One of its salient features is fairness, where profit or loss/risk is
shared with the customers.

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Under the Islamic banking tenets, funds are provided to firms that are involved in the
production of products, operations or activities that avoid undesirable effect to the
religious, society, environment and economy. Examples of undesirable or prohibited
(non-halal) are those involved in “excessive risks”, “gambling”, “alcohol”, “tobacco”,
massage parlour or night club, dating or escort service, pornography, weapons, pork,
“practice cruelty to animal” and the practice of interest (“riba”) as in conventional
banking (Siwar and Hossain (2009); Dusuki and Abdullah (2006, p.144). These activities
are prohibited in Islamic law as they result in injustice or unfairness and are detrimental
to the environment and the society. This illustrates that Islamic banking directly
contribute to the present day CSR policies and strategies as it promotes a positive and
balanced society, economy and environment (“bottom-line gains”).

Consistent with the findings, CSR practices do correlate into Islamic banking where
“both religious and economic factors are equally important” for customers to choose their
bank of preference (Dusuki and Abdullah (2006, p.146). However, the CSR issues are not
the sole criterion for customer to choose Islamic banking products over its rival, the
conventional institutions. Below are some of the factors, as identified by the authors, that
contribute when customer making selection to patronise banks regardless of Islamic or
conventional products;

 cost and benefits


 service delivery (fast and efficient)
 size and reputation
 convenient (easily accessible and ample parking spaces)
 friendliness and knowledge of bank staff when handling customers

6.2 Relating CSR to Bank Customer Satisfaction

The study of McDonald and Thiele (2007) reveals that banks‟ massive investment in
CSR initiatives and programs does not prove to be the best investments to increase
customer satisfaction. However, funding into customer-centric initiatives is evident to
improved customer satisfaction levels. For example, “Japan‟s biggest bank, MUFG and
Australian Banking CSR‟s leader, Westpac and ANZ” reported low customer satisfaction

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despite millions of dollars invested in their CSR programs. Mostly, banking customers
preferred initiatives that offer direct benefits to themselves rather than benefits to the
community or society at large (McDonald and Thiele 2007). The customer-centric or
customer preferred services are ranked in order of importance as below:

i) friendly and helpful staff in providing services or handling complaints


ii) lower service fees or finance charges and higher earnings/returns
iii) banking experience in terms of branch interior design, comfort and size
iv) efficient or improved channel/delivery services (i.e. ATM accessibility, convenience
e.g. longer hours 24x7, speed of service/better response times, privacy, availability
and reliability).

7. CONCLUSIONS

This is it, the new business direction in all over the world, where the peoples, communities,
or societies are putting pressure on firms specifically FIs to ensure better lives, communities,
society, environment and nation. Whether it is Malaysia, Australia, China, India, UK, USA,
Japan, France or other countries in the world, all are embracing CSR as their main corporate
strategies to foster sustainability.

The initial entry might be different due to the size, industry and nature of the business; some
are driven by government initiatives, regulations and legislations, some do it for marketing
purposes, commercial gains or goodwill to comply to the stakeholders‟ needs and some are
more on self-regulation.

The climate change, carbon impact and ethical business practice is the growing social and
environment issues thus FIs need to integrate CSR into their operating environments and
products to ensure sustainable performance. The more FIs are committed to CSR, the less
they are exposing themselves to business risks such as money laundering, mistrust, fraud and
corruption.

It is evident in this study that there is a positive correlation between company‟s social
performance, “measured by company‟s reputation index” and its financial performance,
“measured by return on equity” (Douglas, Doris and Johnson, (2004, p.388), Tsoutsoura, M.

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(2004). Therefore, firms focusing to improve their social performance will have a tendency
to be more profitable in the long run. Although it is hard to measure or prove this but Weber
(2005, p.84) confirms that being an “ethical brand” contributes in bank profits between 15%
to 18% and the bank “has performed better than average for banks in the same country” for
the last 8 years.

As for Malaysia, the promotion and development of its Islamic funds can be seen as a leading
role in charting the path to responsible business and at the same time promoting CSR among
investors. However firms still need to improve their CSR practices by integrating the social
and environment issues into their decision making, core values, business strategies and
practices, “instead of planting trees or giving cheques for environmental conservation, they
need to look at the impact their offices have on the environment”
(http://thestar.com.my/starbizicrm/story.asp?file=/2009/10/31/starbizicrm/5011178&sec=star
bizicrm). This is necessary to stay competitive where there is intense competition, pressure to
operate in a more responsible and profitable manner, introduction or innovation of many new
products specifically ethical funds or SRI and not forgetting the rapid change of ICT that
local FIs must react quickly in order to stay competitive in this volatile economy. To be
equated as „excellence‟, firms must demonstrate commitment to CSR and are accountable for
their actions.

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APPENDIX 1

Corporate Sustainability Assessment for DJSI: Sustainability Leaders


2008/2009: Banks and Financial Services Sector

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Source: http://www.sam-group.com/yearbook/download/yearbook_current.pdf

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Source: http://www.sam-group.com/yearbook/download/yearbook_current.pdf

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8. REFERENCES

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7. Castka P. and Balzarova M.A. (2007), “ A critical look on quality through CSR lenses,
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8. McDonald, L.M. and Thiele, S.R. (2007), “Corporate social responsibility and bank
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UEL, MBA International Business, FEM205 Financial Modeling and Information Systems