About Sustainability - Corporate Sustainability | Ulster Bank

About Sustainability

We are committed to building a sustainable bank. By this, we mean a financially sound bank that serves all our customers, and contributes strongly to our economy, society, and our communities. Balancing our business decisions by taking account of the interests of our many stakeholders is important in building a good business based on trust, and these pages outline the steps we are taking to make that happen.

At Ulster Bank, Sustainability is more than just a concept. It’s the foundation of how we are reshaping our business, to build a bank that is financially solid, focused on our customers and trusted by our stakeholders. It’s about our commitment to supporting businesses and enabling economic growth. It’s about being open and transparent. Building a sustainable business also means being a force for good in the communities where we operate.

Read a summary of our 2015 Sustainable Banking Report Read a summary of our 2014 Sustainability Banking Report
Add your signposting title here… Sustainable Business Principles

Our Sustainable business principles are a public record of our commitment to operating to the highest standards. Embedding these principles in how we run our business is a continuing process.

Sustainability Priorities

 

Balancing our own needs with the interests of our many stakeholders is important in building a trusted business. At Ulster Bank, we work to address the issues that matter most to our stakeholders. Through direct investment, through a partnership approach and through the skills and expertise of our people, we can influence many of these issues in a positive way.

Simple Fairer Banking

Simple Fairer Banking

 

A bank account, and credit at a reasonable cost, are basic needs for almost everyone. We are making our banking services accessible and affordable for as many people as we can.

Access to banking

For many, the main point of contact with the bank has always been a local branch or a cash machine. We have added to this network with a full range of mobile, telephone and online services, which are available 24 hours, 7 days a week.

·          As an Ulster Bank customer, you also have access to:

·          174 branches throughout Ireland

·          Over 1011 non charging cash machines

·          1660 Post Offices offering our services

·          Bank on wheel serving 60 rural locations

·          Apple Pay in NI and Touch ID island wide

Access to bank accounts

Opening a current account should be easy. But, because of personal circumstances, some people may find it difficult. This might be because they don’t have a regular income, or have a poor credit rating. The Basic bank in NI and the Foundation account in RI is our solution to this.

Northern Ireland - Foundation Account

Republic of Ireland - Standard Account

Support for Customers in Vulnerable Situations

We understand that customers can often find themselves in vulnerable situations and to support this we have

·          Set up a dedicated working group to strengthen support for our customers

·          Signed up to the UK Dementia Charter providing a better level of understanding for our staff to help them deal with customers suffering from dementia

Supporting Customers in Financial Difficulty

While the economy improved in 2015 we know that many customers remain financially vulnerable. During the year we continued to support customers through

·          Encouraging them to engage with us and offering a range of flexible payment options

·          Sign posting customers to independent advice agencies

·          Initiatives to help customers stay in their homes

Protecting our customer’s money and data

Financial fraud continue to rise and at Ulster Bank we have invested heavily in fraud prevention and detection systems and processes to protect our customers, these include

·          Training front line staff to be constantly alert to unusual transactions on customer’s accounts

·          Collaborating with law enforcement agencies

·          Delivering 26 customer awareness events to 1043 customers

·          Working with Age Action to host Elder Financial abuse forums

Innovating to meet changing customer needs

We recognise that traditional banking is changing and that businesses and consumers are increasingly demanding mobile, interactive and multi channel banking services. To support this we have

·          Opened an offsite innovation hub in Dogpatch housing the bank’s Innovation Solution’s team as they work side by side with Ireland’s start up community to deliver creative new products and ways to serve our customers

Banking that is customer focused, open and transparent.

  

Protecting our environment

Working to sustainable environmental codes and principles.

Promoting financial education

Empowering the next generation to take control of their own financial future.

  

Supporting our communities

Our community programmes, supporting and investing in grassroots community initiatives, charitable giving and supporting employee involvement.

Valuing our people

Investing in our people to ensure they can develop their talents, and be committed to serving our customers well.

 

  

Supporting Enterprise and Innovation

Developing business supports to enable SMEs and entrepreneurs to drive and develop the economy, creating jobs and stability.  

Stakeholder Issues

 

Our stakeholders include customers, employees, the media, consumer groups, trade bodies, regulators and public representatives. Regular discussions take place with all of these groups, so that we have an opportunity to hear their views, and be open and transparent about the requirements of running a major bank today.

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Business organisations, politicians and the media have continued to challenge the banking sector over levels of lending to business, and support for small businesses. Our own stakeholder discussions also underline the importance of this. We are committed to supporting economic growth through prudent lending, and through providing a range of support programmes for start-ups, SMEs and social enterprises.

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Icon expand Fees and charges

Account fees and overdraft charging levels are regularly raised as an issue by customers, consumer groups and media commentators. We recently introduced new fees on our current accounts, and have worked to keep these fees transparent, simple and clear. We’re also doing more to help customers avoid fees in the first place through initiatives such as text alerts to customers when their balance reaches a set pre-agreed level.

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We share with many of our stakeholders a strong commitment to supporting financial education.

This is reflected in our ongoing investment over the past 10 years in MoneySense - now the most-widely used resource in Ireland and Northern Ireland for teaching young people about money matters. In 2015 we launched our new updated MoneySense programme https://mymoneysense.com/ with resources tailored to the needs of young people from ages 5 up to 18.

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Many stakeholders, including consumer organisations and debt advice agencies, as well as public representatives, continue to raise a number of concerns in relation to issues such as branch closures, access to in-branch cash services, ATM availability, and access to mainstream banking for consumers without bank accounts. We are taking these challenges seriously.  While we closed a number of branches during 2015, we put in place alternative banking services for our customers through over 1500 Post Office outlets island-wide and extended our Bank on Wheels facilities to cover 12 rural communities.  We will continue to make every effort to ensure our services are accessible to our customers in their local communities.

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Icon expand Supporting local communities

Most people believe that banks should do more to reconnect with their local communities. They also believe, and we agree, that part of our role in the community is to support the efforts of voluntary and charitable organisations that are the lifeblood of our communities. Our charitable Giving Schemes and local community partnerships mean that Ulster Bank has a strong culture of employee community involvement, which runs alongside our sponsorship support for local sport and the arts.

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Climate change, and the impact of all businesses, including banks, continues to be a concern for many. While our sector is not energy-intensive, we are focused on reducing our carbon footprint and have a number of measures in place to drive down energy usage wherever possible.

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