Why this report?

During the financial crisis, but also during the national debt crisis that followed it, financial institutions have found themselves constantly in the eye of the storm. This may be the reason why, both inside and outside of the financial sector, more and more requests are made for the social role of the financial institutions to be explained. A question that the sector could not and did not want to ignore.

We need not elaborate about the importance of the financial institutions for society. They are the guardians of the citizens’ savings. They fulfil a crucial role in payment transactions. And, more than anywhere else in the world, Belgian financial institutions grant loans that provide families, authorities and companies, and in particular SMEs, with the necessary oxygen. Outside of Europe, companies and even authorities first look for funding to the capital markets and only in the second instance to financial institutions. Here, it is precisely the opposite.

Financial institutions are also important players in the field of employment (and, as a consequence, in social solidarity via the social security contributions), fraud prevention and taxation (e.g. via withholding tax and bank duties that are paid to the Treasury).

In brief: Belgian financial institutions are at the service of people and society.

That crucial role also entails obligations. Therefore, since the financial crisis broke out, the sector has frequently, if not continuously, held up a mirror to its face. We have listened to customers, reflected with trade unions and other partners on what went wrong and thought about remedies to make the sector more vigorous and more sustainable. That exercise has resulted in the following: a report that tries to map out the social responsibility of the financial sector.

The very first Corporate Social Responsibility Report of the Belgian financial sector discusses 22 themes that touch the heart of Belgian banking. The themes are formulated as questions that society might ask itself. They were defined after various consultations with stakeholders – from banks to employees and suppliers, consumer associations, NGOs, supervisors and academics. In this report we therefore wish to thank them very much for their input and commitment to help look for the building blocks for a more sustainable financial sector.

The report looks at the past, but must above all be a guideline for the future. A future in which the financial sector achieves its commitment to society and deepens it further. In which it maps out its achievements, but also identifies its challenges on the road to a more sustainable world and society.


Filip Dierckx, Chairman Febelfin

Michel Vermaerke, Chief Executive Officer Febelfin