We live in a world with finite resources, and these days people are becoming increasingly aware of the way development and progress are having a negative impact on the environment. As a society, we have come to acknowledge that everyone has a part to play when it comes to promoting sustainability.
From each individual who chooses to recycle to major corporations which incorporate sustainability policies into their daily operations in a meaningful way. Encouraging sustainable best practices isn’t always easy, which is why it has become crucial that companies that lead the way in this realm need to be held up on a pedestal and recognised for their good work in order to persuade other similar entities to follow suit.
On Thursday, 26 May 2022, the Institute of Finance Professionals New Zealand (INFINZ) hosted their annual awards ceremony in Auckland to celebrate innovation and excellence in the country’s financial sector. Kiwibank took centre stage and received the highly sought-after Hunter Campbell-ESG Award for its commitment to the environment and community-focused approach to operations.
Kiwibank’s Impressive Achievements
Some of its notable accomplishments the New Zealand-owned bank was applauded for including Rainbow Tick, Gender Tick, Living Employer accreditation and distributing bank cards made from recycled materials. Moreover, they have also promoted the importance of responsible gambling thanks to their gambling block feature, where customers grappling with self-exclusion will be better able to regulate their behaviour.
The company also has an impressive RautakiMaori – a strategy that promotes and supports the aspirations of New Zealand’s Maori people. They have also done work in terms of supporting financial literacy for tamariki through the classroom-economy platform called Banquet.
The judges commended Kiwibank for its organisation-wide commitment to the environment and stated that the company’s B Corp certification and the way in which it prioritised looking after staff members as well as its clients was particularly impressive.
In response, Tom Williams, Kiwibank’s Head of Sustainable Finance, highlighted how the company was focused on being a purpose-driven business, and a key part of this was finding sustainable and meaningful ways of supporting their stakeholders across the board – including customers, staff and the communities they work in as well as the environment as a whole.
In 2021, KiwiBank earned its B Corp certification and became the largest bank in New Zealand to do so. This was a clear indication that they were achieving their objectives when it came to balancing purpose with profits. However, in his statement, William’s said that this was just the first step in a long journey for Kiwibank:
“As B Corp companies well know, the work doesn’t stop here; we are about constant improvement so we can continue to play an impactful role in creating an inclusive and sustainable economy where what we do results in benefits for everyone.”
Looking To The Future
It is worth bearing in mind that bagging the ESG Award isn’t the only acknowledgement of Kiwibank’s work. The company is also in the running for the Guardian Trust – NZ Debt Market Issue of the Year Award, thanks to its USD 250m issue of Perpetual Preference Shares (PPS).
As the first Additional Tier 1 (AT1) capital deal completed in New Zealand since 2015, Kiwibank has met the Reserve Bank’s new requirements for capital instruments in addition to the Financial Market Conduct Act regulations for disclosure purposes, which is quite a feat. Collaborating with its regulator, Kiwibank was able to successfully achieve the practical disclosure standards appropriate for an AT1 capital instrument.
According to Geoff Martin, Kiwibank’s Head of Funding, this instrument has been incredibly important for the company’s ability to operate in a way that meets its regulatory requirements. Martin acknowledged that raising capital every few years was necessary as this capital was necessary for Kiwibank’s growth, which in turn allowed it to pursue its ultimate goal of supporting more New Zealanders and encouraging their business to thrive.