Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi

Addicted to paper: FIs amongst the worst offenders

Open book with the middle pages creating a heart shape

New research shows that employees within the financial services sector are amongst those relying most heavily on paper, despite the environmental, process, cost and compliance benefits of going paperless.

Corporates making headway with sustainability projects may need to question the commitment to the cause of their banks. A new survey of 1,000 workers found that 68% of employees working in the finance sector still rely heavily on paper, behind education (80%) but just ahead of the construction and utilities sector (67%).

Despite its heavy reliance on paper, the finance sector is trying to curb its addiction, with 77% of respondents reporting that they are implementing paper-saving processes.

However, in the wider community, few firms are really committed to the cause, it seems. The UK-focused report indicates that 39% of businesses have not yet implemented a paperless policy to try and reduce paper usage. It further claims that just 5% of large enterprises have the technology infrastructure in place to be classed as a digital business.

On average, companies are spending around £20,500 per year on document management processes to handle around 5,000 printed pages per month. But 45% of paper documents are thrown away within 24 hours of being printed. With 50% of all waste generated from businesses being paper-based, the environmental impact is significant.

With this in mind, some employees are trying to cut down their personal paper usage. Some 30% claim that they only print physical files when absolutely necessary, 7% rarely use the printer, and 3% operate fully paperless and never use paper.

The research was carried out by mobile data capture service, WorkMobile, as part of its ‘Death of the paper trail report’. Colin Yates, Chief Support Officer for the firm, says that with so much technology available to businesses it is “surprising and disappointing” to see that companies are still relying so heavily on paper-based processes.

“Over recent years, there has been a lot of focus on becoming more environmentally friendly as a society and reducing wastage to protect the planet,” says Yates.

Despite attempts by government organisations and campaigners to raise awareness around the implications of using paper and cutting down trees, he says a large number of businesses are still not taking note. “Companies must look to introduce paperless policies to improve internal processes and make for greater efficiencies and accuracies. The future of their businesses could well depend on it.”