Sources and figures

To measure the social impact of the financial sector, three types of sources were consulted:

  • Public and independent sources.

These are mainly government bodies such as the National Bank of Belgium, the Federal Public Service Economy, the Federal Public Service Social Security, the Office of the Ombudsman for the financial sector, etc.

  • Closed and independent sources.

For these we could call on the cooperation of Vigeo, a research institution specialised in the sustainability screening of financial institutions among others.

  • Closed internal sources.

Naturally, the members of Febelfin were questioned in detail about the integration of the various dimensions of sustainability in their operational management.

The figures used are equally the result of samples, surveys and mandatory statistics.

Interpretation of the figures

When figures are used in this report that are based on the members’ survey, they are always stated as:

  • a percentage, weighted in accordance with the share of the balance sheet of the institutions in the sample, extrapolated to the whole market
  • the number of institutions out of a total of 19

There is a large diversity between the participating institutions in respect of the number of employees and the size of the balance sheet (the 4 large banks, for instance, represent approx. 86% of the total balance sheet and of the number of employees). The size of the institution is important when we wish to decide something about its impact on society. Therefore, the weighted percentages seem most relevant to us.


To draw up the numerical data and statistics, depending on availability the financial sector was delineated based on the European classification of economic activities, the NACE code. The financial economic activities that are relevant for this report fall within Section K – Financial and insurance activities: NACE 64 – ‘Financial service activities, except insurance and pension funding’, and part of NACE 66.2 – ‘Activities auxiliary to insurance and pension funding’.

For figures originating from the National Bank, the Central Balance Sheet Office and the institute for national accounts (ICN/INR), we also worked with the sector category S12 – ‘Financial institutions’ and activity sector PU420 – ‘Financial institutions’.

If possible, the figures for the financial sector are compared with the corresponding figures for the other commercial services sectors.

Where available, we decided for the various themes to give figures describing the situation in 2007, i.e. before the crisis, and in 2011, the most recent available situation.