What social role does the sector have to fulfil?

The fourth commitment of the financial sector relates directly to the place held by banks in society. A financial sector cannot be sustainable and vigorous, finance the economy, deal with savings and investments in a balanced way and ensure efficient and modern payment transactions if it lives in an ivory tower. It must listen to the grievances of its employees, its customers and society as a whole. It must try and respond to all these grievances insofar as they are realistic and reconcilable with the healthy management of financial institutions. Shareholders must also understand that greater turnover does not always deliver added value, and that banks must also dare to set themselves long-term goals.

The banks have therefore undertaken to bear their social role in mind in all their decisions, and to strive to fulfil this role to the best of their ability.

Social role vis-à-vis staff members

The financial sector is one of this country’s biggest employers. It employs more than 100,000 people.

Employees in the financial sector expect a good working environment, a decent salary, sufficient training, etc. There must be sufficient opportunities for young people to develop in a challenging environment and in a pleasant working climate with prospects for the future.

Social role vis-à-vis the consumer / customer

Consumers and customers expect banks to watch over their savings, provide credit at a reasonable price and ensure a secure and efficient financial infrastructure. They also expect transparency with regard to financial products and, if possible, information about what is happening with their savings. They also expect bankers to try and assist their customers as much as possible, through good times and bad.

Social role vis-à-vis society as a whole

Society expects banks, as intermediaries for customers who save and customers looking to invest, to act as catalysts of economic growth. It also expects them to encourage society to save and invest more sustainably.

Financial institutions in Belgium also play a key part in the fight against fraud, tax evasion and money laundering, as they are obliged to report suspicious transactions and persons to the Cell for Financial Information Processing (CFI), an independent administrative authority. The financial sector also played a crucial role in the physical dematerialisaton of securities, an intervention that also helps fight fraud.