Future of Banking in APAC: The Values-Driven Consumer Takes Centre Stage

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  • A growing number of consumers are embracing eco-ethical values due to mounting concerns about climate change, placing greater pressure on brands to lead in addressing environmental issues
  • Consumers are seeking active empowerment and representation of minorities, valuing this over superficial displays of inclusion
  • Financial service providers that embed sustainability and inclusivity can distinguish themselves in APAC

Singapore, 28 September 2023 | In Asia-Pacific, consumer sentiments concerning environmental sustainability and inclusivity are playing an increasingly influential role in shaping the landscape of the banking and finance industry. These findings were uncovered in the dentsu Finance DNA: The Future of Finance and Payments report, which delves into ten trends expected to shape the sector in the coming decade. 

Banking goes green

An increasing number of APAC consumers are embracing eco-ethical values due to a heightened sense of personal vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. 63% of those surveyed said they felt personally at risk in the next five years1

This heightened awareness is leading consumers to expect more from brands, including financial service providers. While 49% of APAC consumers believe that governments bear the primary responsibility for addressing environmental issues2, rising distrust in government is shifting the focus onto brands. This includes banks, as consumers increasingly look to them to take the lead in effecting positive change. 

When it comes to financial products, sustainability is already a significant consideration for 44% of APAC consumers, influencing their choices in areas such as credit cards and investments. Among Millennials, this figure rises to 53%3. Additionally, a remarkable 65% of consumers in APAC expressed interest in a mobile application that tracks their personal impact on the environment4

Sustainable investing is gaining momentum with a nascent trend observed across APAC indicating that a sizeable minority in Australia (14%), South Korea (15%), and China (15%) are very interested in funds that invest in sustainable companies5. By 2030, the proportion of APAC consumers using sustainable investment funds is projected to grow from 14% to 20%6. As scepticism around greenwashing rises in tandem, brands must be prepared to respond to greater demands for transparency including proof of impact. 

Dominic Powers, Chief Growth and Innovation Officer, dentsu APAC, said: 

“Our findings indicate that consumers are not only aware of the climate crisis but also interested in how they can make better decisions to contribute towards a more sustainable future. The growing wave of eco-consciousness in the Asia-Pacific region presents an opportunity for brands to align with consumer values, enhance their sustainability efforts, and foster deeper connections with their audience by demonstrating a strong commitment to a climate-positive world.” 

Walking the inclusivity talk

In addition to environmental sustainability, consumers are looking to financial service providers that champion not only passive inclusivity, but the active empowerment of ever-more diverse customers, communities and needs. 

While inclusive advertising may have been sufficient in the past, today's consumers are seeking representation of minorities in leadership roles within organisations. 42% of those surveyed (and 47% of Gen Z consumers) believe it is more important for minority groups to be represented in company leadership than to be featured in advertising7

Promoting financial inclusion is one way brands can distinguish themselves in APAC, which has a significant unbanked population. Financial players will need to contemplate their role in facilitating access for these communities, including the elderly, and migrants and refugees. 

“Our findings reflect consumer desire for a genuine and sustained commitment to diversity and inclusion. They want to see brands transcend virtue-signaling and purpose-washing to embed inclusion across all key decisions. We can expect financial inclusion to become a widespread aim across the banking and finance industry, as brands try to help consumers from all backgrounds build a more financially secure future,” commented Powers. 

The full Finance DNA: The Future of Finance and Payments report can be downloaded at: https://info.dentsu.com/dentsu-finance-dna-pr 

 1 Foresight Factory | Base: 12884 APAC average online respondents per country aged 16+[Brazil, China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia], 2022 March 

2 Foresight Factory | Base: 2888 APAC average online respondents per country aged 16+[China, South Korea], 2022 January 

3 Foresight Factory | Base: 11000 online respondents aged 16+, Global Average (9 markets), 2022 January 

4 Foresight Factory | Base: 11243 APAC average online respondents per country aged 16+[Brazil, China, India, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia], 2021 March 

5 Foresight Factory | Base: 893-1830 online respondents per country aged 16+, [China and South Korea 16-74], 2022 January  

6 Foresight Factory | Base: 893-1830 online respondents per country aged 16+, [China and South Korea 16-74], 2022 January 

7 Foresight Factory │ Base: 12157online respondents aged 16+, APAC Average (10 markets), 2022 March