Whilst it’s true of all industries, it’s particularly important for mortgages and housing as just over one-fifth of all the UK’s carbon emissions come from our homes, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
In mortgages in particular – our sphere of expertise – unlike 20 years ago, we are seeing real life products exist which reward green behaviours. Previously, demand may well have been in place but it didn’t have the requisite supply.
These products will become increasingly sophisticated as we move forward, and we’d also expect to account for a far larger number of searches and purchased mortgages in the future.
According to a recent IPSOS Mori poll, there’s an increase in consumers at all age ranges saying that they will act green. But also in that survey, respondents showed that they remain more concerned about more immediate concerns like keeping a roof over their heads.
We can, of course, combine the two by recommending the green mortgage but current best practice means that we are required to always offer the best value mortgage. Sometimes, that’s the green option, but not always. This is an area in which we could all make a considerable difference.
Working towards change
How will we make this difference? Through ‘collective leadership’. If we act now, we can be part of the solution as opposed to compounding the problem.
So what does collective leadership in our industry look like?
The first step has to be that we understand that we have a role to play in delivering net zero.
The next step is to make sure that we operate from a level playing field: that all customers are shown a green option as part of their range of options. By acting as responsible businesses, lenders, brokers and intermediaries, we will genuinely make a difference by helping consumers to choose greener options by simply having them consider them in the first place.
That would, in turn, encourage lenders to bring more green products to market.
If we don’t take this voluntary approach, my gut instinct would be that we may end up being forced to do so by government or by the Chancellor similar to what has happened in the aviation and car industries.
Let’s act before we’re taxed and made to do so.
Aiming for success
Will this approach work?
It simply has to. We need to inspire positive behaviour change from people who simply want to buy a home affordably, as simple, fast, and efficiently as possible. That’s going to require a commitment from our industry.
Our industry’s fear is that by acting alone, we will lose business to competitors who offer lower priced deals or don’t mention green products at all. That’s precisely why we need collective leadership on this campaign.
My sense is also that we still have a lot of efficiency gains to be made in our industry, which would more than offset the costs of going green. Using a turnkey mortgage platform prevents brokers from typing in the same data twice, for example.
If we’re able to draw on the many bright sparks and talented individuals in our industry and combine them with all the data available, as well as process and efficiency gains, then this will work. But it does need to be a collective effort.
Our industry has fallen far behind many other sectors in doing our bit for the green agenda. Let’s come together to do better.