For us, sustainable action means constantly developing our operations towards an increasingly sustainable direction, in collaboration with our stakeholders. As a company, we want to shoulder our responsibility and facilitate the sustainable development of the environment and of society. This is reflected in our strategy, values and actions.
By acting sustainably, we promote customer satisfaction as well as the well-being and work-place satisfaction of our personnel. We believe that in this way we can also improve the profitability and competitiveness of our business, along with having a positive impact on the environment and society. We want to be worthy of the trust of all of our stakeholders.
Our sustainable mode of operation is steered by the values we find important: customer-oriented approach, agility and team spirit. These values are reflected in our day-to-day work, and they form the basis from which we are striving to grow our business, profit as well as corporate value in the long run. It is our desire to create lasting customer relationships and to cultivate the wealth of our customers with solutions suited for the individual objectives and needs of each customer. Sustainability also forms a pivotal part of the company’s investment activities and overall risk management.
We have commissioned an assessment of our standing in terms of the different elements of sustainability from an external research company. The report was produced by a company called Impact-Cubed Ltd, providing impact assessment of companies and funds, as well as tools and data relating to such assessment. Impact-Cubed’s model is based on so-called ESG factors, derived from sustainable development goals: environmental responsibility, societal responsibility and good governance. Their aim is to model the ways in which any listed company, regardless of its size, line of business or operational territory, has either a positive or a negative impact on sustainable development. The study was carried out in March 2020. The reference group consisted of other operators within the industry in the Nordic countries.
We have determined the most relevant elements, from the standpoint of our business operations, on the sustainability of which we place particular focus. The company’s sustainability policy is approved by the Board of Directors of United Bankers Plc. An internal working group, consisting of versatile expertise from the company’s various functions, coordinates the following of the sustainability policy.
The customer is at the heart of everything we do. We want to offer a first-class customer experience, based on a sustainable and solution-oriented operating method. For us, it is crucial to know our customer and to understand the customer’s objectives and needs, so we are able to offer each customer the products and services best suited for them and their risk profile. We are constantly developing our products and services and securing the high quality of same by ensuring our personnel’s expertise and solid know-how. In addition, the continuous development of our digital services is a high priority for us, enabling us to provide an effortless, secure and user-friendly customer experience even online.
We choose to place emphasis on responsible customer communications and interaction. We communicate clearly and openly about our operations and, for instance, about the costs of our products and services, observing all regulatory requirements. Also, we always ensure that the sustainability aspects are taken into account as well as possible in our sales and marketing strategies and that these comply with the legislation and authority regulations. By means of harmonised practices created for the processing of customer feedback, we aim to ensure that all feedback is responded to in the manner required by the matter, and within a reasonable period of time.
Maintaining high customer satisfaction is a top priority for us. Our lasting customer relationships are an indication of the trust our customers place in us, as well as of their satisfaction with our customer-oriented operating approach. Nevertheless, we want to continuously improve and develop our services to ensure our customers’ satisfaction also going forward. For this reason, we consider it extremely important to know our customers and their individual goals.
People are our company’s most important resource. With a healthy, skilled and committed personnel we are able to ensure the continuity of our operations, as well as the high level of expertise. Goal-oriented work and the development of expertise comprise the cornerstones of good performance and meaningful work.
United Bankers was founded in 1986 and our founding partners are still involved in the operations of the company. We have strong traditions, but we also appreciate the importance of reform and development. The underlying factor is our encouraging and team-spirited corporate culture, which we foster continuously.
We offer our personnel comprehensive occupational health services along with versatile fridge benefits. Workplace satisfaction and well-being is monitored with regularly conducted personnel surveys, allowing us to identify potential points of development. Furthermore, occupational healthcare and the active occupational health and safety committee participate in ensuring the well-being of the personnel.
The objective of the company’s Gender Equality and Equal Opportunities Plan is to facility the creation of a healthy working environment. We are committed to promoting gender equality and equal opportunities and to prevent discrimination in all of our activities. Our organisational culture is characterised, for instance, by a wide age distribution, multilingualism and diverse educational backgrounds. We consider these a strength, allowing us to serve different customers, combine different areas of expertise and to adapt to changing situations. We seek to ensure the materialisation of equality in salaries and in advancement opportunities. We have also ensured that both genders are represented in the management and Board of Directors of United Bankers Plc. In addition, we support the coordination of work and family life in a variety of ways, regardless of gender and family composition. Also our flexible working time and working methods facilitate the integration of work and leisure.
Financial responsibility is the corner-stone of our business operations. By ensuring the financial solidity of our company and the profitability of our business operations, we secure our operational prerequisites also in the future. With carefully considered and long-span investments into growth, we are also aiming at generating added value for our owners and customers.
In addition to good corporate governance, our business is conducted in compliance with the legislation and authority regulations. The level of expertise in our efficient and responsibly operating corporate governance function is high. Customer data and assets are processed diligently and in accordance with the applicable data security regulation. Our entire personnel undergo regular training to upkeep expertise concerning the regulatory requirements and internal practices and guidelines. The quantitative and qualitative criteria are taken into account in the reward policy of our sales personnel. Acting in compliance with authority regulations forms a pivotal part of the qualitative evaluation.
We have integrated sustainability aspects as part of our investment operations. These aspects are taken into account in portfolio management both for mutual funds and in discretionary asset management, as well as in the other investment products we offer (excluding index-based products). The integration of the sustainability aspect as part of our products and services is also an essential part of the overall risk management within our corporate group.
The primary objective of our investment activities is to achieve sustainably the highest possible return, at the customer’s preferred risk level, both in the long and in the short term. As part of the materialisation of this objective, we consider in our investment decisions how environmental and social responsibility, as well as good governance (ESG factors) actualise in our investment objects. We believe that taking the sustainability aspect into account also has a positive effect on the return on the investments.
The drafting, updating and issuance of practical guidelines concerning the principles of sustainable investment is the responsibility of the United Bankers Sustainable Investment Steering Group.
In order to shoulder our responsibility for the sustainable environmental and societal development, we have incorporated sustainability into the company’s strategy, operations and values. We signed the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) supported by the United Nations in 2012. In addition, we are members of Finland's Sustainable Investment Forum (Finsif), promoting sustainable investment in Finland by offering a networking facility and a channel for gathering information.
Our asset management and securities brokerage services as well as our mutual funds have been awarded the Key Flag Symbol as a sign of domestic production and their positive effects on employment in Finland. We also participate in various projects that have a positive impact on the environment and society.
All of the forest properties of our forest funds are PEFC™-certified, and a considerable portion are also FSC® (FSC C109750)-certified. Through certification, we are able to show that the treatment of our forests is economically, socially and ecologically sustainable. Our forest funds are also part of the Forest Biodiversity Programme for Southern Finland (METSO), steered by the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, aiming to halt the ongoing decline in the biodiversity of forest habitats and species, as well as to establish the stable favourable development of biodiversity. Our forest funds have sites encompassed by the METSO preservation, and we are surveying possibilities for new METSO preservation sites.
United Bankers is a shareholder in the learning sector focused venture capital company, Sparkmind.vc Ltd. A private equity fund, Sparkmind Fund, managed by Sparkmind.vc, invests in growth companies within the field of education from early childhood education to learning solutions for companies. United Bankers’ subsidiary UB Fund Management Ltd provides financial administration services to Sparkmind Fund and has assisted in managing certain operations of the fund since 2019. Sparkmind Fund aims to support the internationalisation of companies within the field of education, as well as improve the scalability of business operations and, as a result of same, to increase the companies’ turnover. In facilitating growth, a pivotal role is played by methods of so-called impact investing, with which growth companies are encouraged to measure the positive societal impact of their innovations and, in such a manner, to promote the marketability of such products or services internationally.
We have been supporting the Baltic Sea and its conservation through the Baltic Sea Action Group (BSAG). In 2018, 2019 and 2021 we participated in the conservation through a Christmas fundraising. In the spring of 2019, we participated in supporting the Bold Projects Association’s Baltic Sea campaign, where the four-member team of the association rowed 500 kilometres from Stockholm to Helsinki. The revenue generated from the campaign was directed to BSAG. United Bankers intends to continue regularly supporting environmental ventures also in the future.