23.01.2017  |  Strategi & ledelse

Banking as a tool for change

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Think global – act local, they say. Totally true for Merkur Cooperative Bank, that tells more about how at Responsible Investment, March 2nd in Copenhagen. Read more.

There is a growing sense of the importance of banking and finance when the challenges of our time shall be addressed: Climate, energy and environment but also governance, local development and inclusion of the billions of citizens without regular access to financial services. Finance and banking are also key factors to reach the UN development goals and the goals from the COP21 climate agreement.

“Money is a powerful tool and we need to handle it responsibly” says CEO Lars Pehrson, Merkur Cooperative Bank “Not only by looking at the economic profitability of what we finance, which goes without saying, but also – of equal importance – at the long term impact on society. Banks should increasingly be co-responsible for the activities they finance and disclose their loans and investments in a transparent way.” he adds.
Consequently, Merkur Cooperative Bank will not help finance activities, which damages the society, be it in environmental or social terms.

Act global
A “society first” banking model is possible and has been carried out successfully and profitably for decades. 36 banks across all continents are gathered in the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, GABV. The banks have combined 24 m customers and 110 bn USD balance sheets.

The members of the alliance all agree on the following principles:

  1. Triple bottom line approach at the heart of the business model.
  2. Grounded in communities (local/regional or thematic), serving the real economy and enabling new business models to meet the needs of both
  3. Long-term relationships with clients and a direct understanding of their economic activities and the risks involved
  4. Long-term, self-sustaining, and resilient to outside disruptions
  5. Transparent and inclusive governance
  6. All of these principles embedded in the culture of the bank

Not only these principles good for society. As Lars Pehrson points out it is also good for the financial institutions. “Most of the GABV banks are growing fast; attracting customers who want know what their money is doing at night.” And thus, the GABV is literally a growing business model.  

The Danish member of GABV is Merkur Andelskasse (Merkur Cooperative Bank). Merkur, founded in 1982, has 28,000+ customers and a balance sheet total of 3.2 bn DKK. Merkur finances a broad range of sustainable enterprises and institutions, such as organic farming and food processing, renewable energy, sustainable living and housing, circular economy, social enterprises and institutions within culture and education – and much more.      

Merkur was also the first bank in Denmark to bring impact investment products to retail customers and has developed a pension scheme built up around the principles of responsible investment.

Read more at www.merkur.dk or at www.gabv.org.

Though with a strong Nordic look and feel, the conference is held in English and has TBLI Group as a networking partner - and thus has the international triple bottom line champion, Robert Rubinstein, as the afternoons key note speaker.

In addition, the programme also holds presentations from Nordic and European financial institutions and companies such as Skandia, Nykredit, Jyske Bank, EKF, Climate-KIC, IFU as well as Anders Eldrup, former CEO of DONG Energy, now chairman of JØP, a Danish pension fund.

Read more about the conference and registration at www.csr-link.dk.

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