Why a strategic agenda?

Since the financial crisis began in 2008, the Belgian banking sector has undergone a radical metamorphosis. It has refocused on its core tasks and its home markets. It reduced its balance sheets, reduced its leverage and scaled down its exposure to risks. This process of change is not yet complete. Now the sector will have to transform itself further into a sustainable and vigorous sector at the service of people, society and the economy.

The sector is experiencing turbulent times, and a Herculean task awaits it. The successive crises have shaken confidence in the financial world, and the banks now face the difficult task of regaining that confidence in a difficult and sometimes hostile environment.

Since the crisis, the world of banking has altered profoundly. The rules have been changed and banking supervision has been tightened. A host of new measures, capital rules and other legislative initiatives are yet to be implemented. Once these rules have been put into effect, the world of financial institutions will never be the same again.

As a financial sector, we felt it was important to offer the bankers and society a handhold for the future. The strategic exercise you now hold in your hands aims to identify the core tasks of this new, vigorous and sustainable financial sector at the service of people, the economy and society. It draws up a blueprint for a Belgian banking landscape that wishes to remain the lifeline of the economy in the future, but also identifies the pitfalls the sector will have to avoid en route. It also sets out with great conviction four specific commitments – promises carved in stone, say, of Belgian bankers to society.

The sector has named the exercise the 3-3-4, because it identifies 3 core tasks, designates 3 keys to success and sets out 4 commitments. The 3-3-4 is not an exercise from an ivory tower. It is calibrated on the needs of society and was also extensively tested in that society during a preparatory phase. It was then developed by a wide group of bankers at all levels who drew inspiration from the social surveys and tested the results of those surveys against the facts by means of independent scientific research.

The strategic agenda and its commitments are embedded in the policy of all Belgian banks, starting right at the top. From there, the policy will undoubtedly impact all levels of the financial sector, from high to low, from headquarters to branch office.

It is our hope that the principles of the strategic agenda will continue to determine the future of the Belgian banking world, between now and 2015 but also long after. To be able to manage that, financial institutions will most probably have to find sufficient support in society. Without the confidence of that society, without the realisation that the keys to success lie in the extent to which the 3 obstacles of the strategic agenda can be resolved, the banks will find it difficult to live up to their 4 commitments and continue to carry out their 3 core tasks to the full. It is crucial that both the banks and society as a whole continue to strive to achieve this with the utmost conviction. Ultimately, this is not only to be done in the best interest of the banks and their thousands of employees, but above all in the best interest of Belgians, the Belgian economy and Belgian society..

 

Filip Dierckx, President Febelfin

Michel Vermaerke, Chief Executive Officer Febelfin