First Option Bank is carbon neutral

Most companies aspire to respond to the needs of their customers, but when you’re owned by your members, that becomes an imperative. First Option Bank’s members and prospective customers wanted to see the bank take stronger action on climate change, leading them to take the first step on their journey to net-zero with Trace.

About First Option Bank

First Option Bank is a member-owned bank that reinvests its earnings into creating a better product and service for its customers. The bank is built on treating its team and members like family, with a focus on being as responsive to its members’ needs as possible.

Starting in 1965, they’ve grown through the merger of credit unions and co-operatives and in 2018 formally became a mutual bank in order to offer their members all the financial services they do today.

We spoke with Simon Bracken, Chief Marketing Officer at First Option Bank about why the company joined Trace and what they’re currently planning in order to progress on their journey to net-zero (and beyond!).

Simon Bracken, CMO at First Option Bank

Why First Option Bank decided to become carbon neutral with Trace

First Option Bank was referred to Trace through an environmental consultancy they were working with on other sustainability initiatives. “They said Trace makes it easy and affordable and sure enough [you] did!”, says Simon.

But the reason why First Option Bank decided to become carbon neutral and start a journey to net-zero was because of its staff and members. 

“It’s a core part of our company DNA and brand to be responsive to the needs of our members. What we’ve been increasingly hearing from them is that they want confidence that their money is with a bank doing the right thing by the planet.”, says Simon. “We won’t be perfect overnight, but we are committed to a journey to be more sustainable, responsible corporate citizens.”

Joining Trace was not just about responding to member feedback, but also a way to tangibly demonstrate they’d taken action.

“Wearing my marketing hat, I wanted the credentials to be able to create a story around our commitment to sustainability that I could share with our members and our prospective members. As part of attracting new customers, one of the due diligence aspects, when they look at your brand, is what is your position on moral grounds that they share personally. Having our carbon neutral status awarded via Trace is a great way for us to demonstrate we care about environmental sustainability.”, Simon explains.

Want to start your journey to net zero?

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How they went about measuring their emissions

Simon completed the data collection process in order for the Bank to measure its carbon footprint. A significant part of that process for him was simply having conversations with people across the business.

“Looking at the numbers didn’t mean a lot to me - I’m marketing not accounting! But talking to people about how they travel, how they dispose of waste, what is their energy consumption and so on, was the core of the exercise. At the end of the day it was really just conversations with people to be able to “write the story” to fill in the form, to get the credentials I wanted to be able to tell our members.”, Simon explains.

What’s next for First Option Bank’s sustainability journey?

“It’s corny, but it is a journey…! Trace was our first step towards building our ‘green credentials’ to avoid being accused of being “climate hypocrites”. 

We’re replacing all our credit cards with recycled plastic. We’re working in partnership with an organisation that’s buying blocks of land and reintroducing native species. But our next step is, as a member-based organisation, to invite our members to contribute directly to our efforts.

For example, we have an active proposal with our leadership team for a member-rewards program attached to our credit card program whereby our members, by spending on their credit cards would be directly contributing to environmental programs.”, says Simon.

Want to be like First Option Bank? Learn how to make your business carbon neutral with Trace.

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