Quality of research conducted by the Fair Finance Guide remains inadequate

04 September 2018 ... min read

4 September 2018

On 3 September 2018, the Dutch Banking Association (NVB) announced it had established that the quality of the research conducted by the Fair Finance Guide (Eerlijke Bankwijzer) “does not paint an honest picture of the current situation in the sector.” Consequently, various banks including ING, have decided to no longer actively contribute to the reports issued by the Fair Finance Guide.

ING believes that it is important to be transparent about sustainability and we provide lots of information on this topic via our websites, including on the sectors we invest in, our views on and the action we take in the field of sustainability, the challenges we face and how we deal with them and what our sustainability policy involves.

Sustainability is an important issue for Dutch society, our customers and ING itself. We can make a very positive impact with how we finance and invest sustainably and help our customers to be ‘financially fitter’. We also focus on limiting our environmental impact and we are engaged with society.

Dutch Banking Association is calling for honest and carefully conducted studies

The Fair Finance Guide is an in initiative of a number of civil society organisations (NGOs), including Oxfam Novib, Amnesty International, Friends of the Earth the Netherlands (Milieudefensie) and the Dutch Trade Union Federation (FNV). Since it was launched in 2009, the banks, including ING, have contributed to the reports published by the Fair Finance Guide, in particular by providing comprehensive information.

At the same time, the banks have held ongoing discussions with the organisations behind the Fair Finance Guide about the quality and the tone of the reports and press releases. The banks feel that the Fair Finance Guide reports often do not adequately reflect the performances of the Dutch banks, which are among the world’s sustainability leaders.

Based in part on the information provided by the banks, the Fair Finance Guide appraises a number of sustainability aspects of the banks. In doing so, it uses some of its own measures and interpretations that regularly go further than international standards and/or regulations. These standards are not always realistic and are often based on the key strategies of the organisations behind the Fair Finance Gide. The Dutch Banking Association is calling for honest and carefully conducted studies, in which the facts and opinions are clearly distinguishable.

Independent recommendations

Since 2015, the Dutch Banking Association and the Fair Finance Guide have been discussing quality improvements. These contacts were made under the guidance of an independent researcher who was appointed on the initiative of the organisations behind the Fair Finance Guide. Despite repeated requests to do so, the Fair Finance Guide has not responded to the ultimate quality recommendations of the independent chairman. For this reason, the banks have taken a joint decision to no longer actively cooperate with the Fair Finance Guide with effect from the above date.

Cooperating on sustainability

The Dutch Banking Association and the banks believe that it is important that the sustainability policy and the performance of the banks are considered critically and compared based on independent, honest and careful investigation.

The banks and the organisations behind the Fair Finance Guide will therefore remain in contact in various other ways to address the concerns and potential improvements that these organisations see for the policy and action of the banks when it comes to sustainability We are also working together in other groups, such as the Banking covenant, where the banks work very closely with organisations such as Oxfam Novib, Amnesty International, PAX and the Dutch Trade Union Federation on solutions to human rights violations.

More information about the joint decision of the banks can be found on the website of the Dutch Banking Association.

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