ESBG co-signs cross-business statement on future corporate due diligence rules

As the discussions around the proposed EU Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence continue, ESBG, together with 26 other business associations, addressed policy makers with a number of recommendations and concerns.

The statement focused on key messages that large parts of the international business sector identified as essential to creating a feasible and coherent set of rules. The associations highlighted that carrying out the required due diligence checks across the entire value chain is neither manageable nor realistic, and recommended implementing a truly risk-based approach instead.
The obligation to exercise due diligence must be proportionate to the size and means of the company in question. Furthermore, the parties stressed that the list of conventions in the Annex to the Directive is too extensive and generates legal uncertainty, considering that these norms are only applicable to states and not to private legal entities.
The statement also made clear that directors should not be held liable for the company’s compliance with the rules and that legal liability provisions need to be balanced. Regarding the overall design of the Directive, the associations called for an option to organise the due diligence measures at group level and warned of the risks that a fragmented European legal landscape would bring.
In general, the business actors asked for clear guidance ahead of the new rules’ entry into force, and reiterated that more emphasis should be put on multi-stakeholder initiatives. The European Parliament is expected to vote on its position in May 2023, before negotiations with the Council and the Commission on the final text will start.

JOINT BUSINESS STATEMENT

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WSBI-ESBG Managing Director Peter Simon appointed EBIC Chair

Peter Simon, WSBI-ESBG Managing Director

Brussels, 18 January 2023 – The EBIC announced today that Peter SIMON was appointed as Chair of the European Banking Industry Committee (EBIC) for a two-year mandate. Peter Simon, Managing Director of the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute – European Savings and Retail Banking Group (WSBI-ESBG), succeeds Wim Mijs, CEO of the European Banking Federation (EBF).

Nina Schindler, CEO of the European Association of Co-operative Banks (EACB), was appointed as the EBIC’s Vice-Chair. The overall secretariat, which rotates along with the chair, will be in the hands of the EBF as of today.

The change comes at a busy time for the EBIC with several critical pieces of legislation under negotiation by the co-legislators (CRR3, CRD6, AMLD6, AMLR, TFR, CCD, DMFSD) and the revision of the Crisis Management Framework (BRRD3) and Mortgage Credit Directive (MCD2) still to come.

Mr Simon said: “I look forward to facilitating, together with the secretariat of the EBF, the dialogue between the EBIC members and to ensure, that this platform channels the united views of the industry as efficiently and effectively as possible. I want to thank my predecessor, Wim Mijs and the secretariat of the EACB, for their work in the past two years and in particular for bringing together the EBIC associations on the topic of COVID and its consequence on society and banks.”

Established in 2004, EBIC is committed to giving the EU banking sector a common voice within the context of the Union’s legislative initiatives in finance and banking, maintaining an open and fruitful dialogue with the EU institutions and international bodies. As an advisory committee that is regularly called upon to provide expertise, EBIC is also a forum for the European banking industry’s representatives. Throughout the drafting, adoption, implementation, and enforcement process of financial legislation, EBIC ensures a representative and sound industry contribution toward better regulation across the EU.

Click to access the Press Release

Press contact: Nihan Cevirgen
Communications Manager
nihan.cevirgen@wsbi-esbg.org
Tel. +32 2211 1190

Captions Picture 2: From Left to Right: Nina Schindler, CEO of the European Association of Co-operative Banks | Peter Simon, WSBI-ESBG Managing Director | Wim Mijs, CEO of the European Banking Federation

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The 28th African Regional Group Meeting convenes in Cape Verde

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Representing 27 financial institutions from 20 countries, WSBI Africa Regional Group convened in Cape Verde during 6-7 October 2022.

By Stephanie Yeze

Co-organized by WSBI and Caixa Económica de Cabo Verde, the Africa Regional Group came together physically for the first time since the last in-person meeting that was held in Zimbabwe back in 2019 during the 28th edition of these meeting series. As one of the long-lasting regional groups of WSBI, Africa Regional Group brings together members in the African region to keep close exchange on the members’ priority topics of the year.
This year’s meeting focused on “Banking Development Strategy & Leadership” and saw the active participation of more than 30 delegates from such countries as South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Morocco, Senegal and of course from the hosting country Cape Verde.
Following the welcoming speeches made by Mr. Antonio Moreira, CEO of CAIXA Económica de Cabo Verde, Mr. El Moussaoui M’hamed, Al Barid Bank President and also the newly named WSBI Africa Regional Group President, and Mr. Peter Simon, Managing Director of WSBI-ESBG, the two days event was officially inaugurated by H.E. Mr. Carlos Santos, Minister of the Cape Verde Government. During his speech, Mr. Santos highlighted that the 28th Strategic African Regional Group Meeting would allow participants to discuss relevant themes for the institutional developments, the banking development strategy activities and leadership as well as providing them with an analysis on the new trends for the banking sectors globally and at the level at the regional group.
The first day started with a panel on process ‘from postal financial services to retail bank’. During the panel, representatives from Al Barid Bank Morocco, Tanzania Commercial Bank and Central Bank of Cape Verde, were able to discuss the different angles and solutions to facilitate the process. On the second session, MicroBank, which is the social bank of the CaixaBank Group, made a presentation with a focus on inclusion through microcredit and other financing with social impact. During the panel, the participants were briefed on how the network of branches has adapted their financial products and services to the needs of not only entrepreneurs, microenterprises and also families in order to promote personal development, social progress and financial inclusion before and after the pandemic. The following session on “Developing MSME Growth in Africa” elaborated on the findings of the SOI 2022 report which examines the role of WSBI members in driving MSME growth in Africa. Finally, the last panel of the day put the emphasis on “Leadership and Change Management”. By working together, the whole audience was able to reflect on their own individual leadership and willingness to be open to a potential change of leading.

On the second day of the Africa Regional Group Meeting, WSBI members made presentations which included an overview of each country’s digital ecosystem and legal framework, the latest developments in each institution’s own digital infrastructure and digital offerings, gaps to be filled, plans for the future, and challenges to be addressed. On the last session, Mr. Antonio Moreira, CEO of Caixa Económica de Cabo Verde, was interviewed by WSBI Advisor Stephanie Yeze on his “Success Story” as Caixa Económica de Cabo Verde was selected earlier this year the “Best Bank in the Country”.
After intensive exchanges on a variety of topics, Mr. Simon concluded the 2-day event by highlighting the chances of WSBI’s network for its members both on the regional and cross-regional level. Members welcomed his suggestion to create work flows between WSBI members also at the “cross regional” level, a first example of which was conducted during WSBI’s World Congress in the form of the cross regional speed dating.

Stephanie Yeze is international & institutional relations advisor of WSBI-ESBG with expertise on Africa

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ESBG’s letter to the Commission on the EBA RTS and GL on interest rate risk in the banking book

On 20 December 2022, ESBG sent a letter to the European Commission about the draft EBA Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) on interest rate risks for banking book (IRRBB) supervisory outlier tests (SOT) and EBA Guidelines on IRRBB and credit spread risk in the banking book (CSRBB).

Whilst we support a revision of the framework capturing interest rate risks for banking book positions, we also believe that the 2,5% SOT threshold for the definition of “large decline” in net interest income (NII) suggested by the EBA is not appropriate as it was calibrated in a low interest rate environment. We therefore suggested that the EBA continues monitoring the normalisation of the monetary policy and only re-calibrates the threshold at a later stage more in line with current market conditions. Furthermore, we pointed out that the relative quantitative impact study was performed at consolidated level and only with a small number of large banks, which makes the calibration of the threshold even less appropriate.

Furthermore, in order to avoid different interpretations and ensure a level playing field, we stressed in relation to the EBA GL on IRRBB and CSRBB that non-marketable instruments, e. g. loans to customers, should be generally exempted from the scope of the CRSBB framework. The value of these instrument is not exposed to market fluctuations, moreover they are already covered through banks’ credit risk management processes.

The European Commission is currently reviewing the EBA RTS on IRRB SOT and is allowed to propose amendments to the text, which would eventually need to be assessed by the EBA. The Commission aims to publish the final RTS around mid-2023. For what concerns the EBA GL on IRRBB & CSRBB, the Commission cannot propose amendments but may suggest a revision to the EBA.

Looking ahead, ESBG will continue to remain engaged with the Commission during the review process.

Read the Full Letter

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WSBI and BTN Collaboration Encourages Global Financial Digitalization and Inclusion

Brussels, 16 December 2022 - World Saving and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI), incollaboration with PT Bank Tabungan Negara (Persero) Tbk (BTN), held the 28th meeting of the WSBI Asia Pacific Regional Meeting. The meeting was held under the theme "Sustainable and Resilient - Savings and Retail Banks in the Post-Pandemic Era". The event was a follow-up to the results of the G20 summit in Denpasar, Bali.

WSBI Managing Director Peter Simon delivered the Paris Declaration to representatives of the Indonesian G20 Presidency. In his speech, Mr Simon insisted on the need for shared solutions to common problems that go beyond geopolitical division. To this end, he reiterated the main points of the Paris Declaration, which calls for harmonizing green taxonomies among jurisdictions following science-based, pragmatic principles. In line with the theme, there were a number of discussion topics at the Regional Meeting, which was held on December 15-16, 2022, in Bali, Indonesia. Among them are digitalization and financial inclusion, sustainability, green finance, innovation, fintech, and payments. These topics were elaborated from different perspectives: business side and regulatory.

WSBI delegation was led by WSBI – ESBG Managing Director, Peter Simon and the meeting saw the participation of many members such as the President Director of
Bank BTN, Haru Koesmahargyo, Shantan Yoosiri Senior Executive Vice President of Government Saving Bank Thailand, and a number of delegates from various countries and banks such as Imagin, CaixaBank, the Sparkassestiftung for International Cooperation, Germany, the Saving Bank of Thailand, Cambodian Bank, Xalk Bank Uzbekistan, Bostwana Savings Bank, Bostwana, the European Union Delegation to ASEAN, the European Investment Bank, European Union. This very intense three-day event was a great chance to concretely discuss best practices and share strategies both from the perspective of regulators and the banking industry. Participants learnt and discussed practical solutions to improve the reliability of green finance product data. Tools and strategies were presented for very advanced banks as well as for institutions catering for the less well-off. The European Investment Bank and the Indonesian Ministry for Housing and Public Works gave a bunch of concrete projects that are being launched in the region where socially responsible banks can play a crucial role while developing their green finance portfolio.

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Media coverage in other languages

Article from : Liputan 6 (The 6 Report), Indonesian flagship television news program broadcasts on SCTV

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Article from: Suara.com, a Indonesian news portal that presents informations from political, business, legal.

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Article from: Media Indonesia is a national newspaper published since January 19, 1970

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Joint Industry letter on the importance of advice and preserving the commission-based model

ESBG toghether with EFAMA, EBF, Insurance Europe, EACB, EAPB and EUSIPA, issued a public letter addressed to Vice-President Dombrovskis, Commissioners McGuinness and Director-General Berrigan, remarking the importance of advice for European retail investors and the need to maintain the coexistence of fee-based and commission-based advice

Joint Industry Letter

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Value for money approach: ESBG position

In September 2022, the European Commission circulated among stakeholders a Discussion Note on a “Value for Money” (VfM) approach with the aim to solicit views on how the retail investor protection framework might be enhanced through the development of an approach aimed at ensuring that products offered to retail investors offer value for money.

ESBG welcomed the intentions of the EC and DG FISMS to assess how the retail investor protection framework may be enhanced through this specific methodology, nevertheless, we believe that it should be made clear that this approach cannot work as one-size-fits-all under the entire product governance requirements. By the same logic, we wanted to stress that existing tools already provide for a “Value for Money” approach.

Therefore, we answered to the discussion note questions and we sent our position to DG FISMA with the aim of explaining why this approach should mainly focus on products distributed under investment advice, if at all. In order to prevent a distortion of the competition between manufacturers, the concept will need to be fine-tuned, taking into account the potential regulatory increasing costs of bureaucracy, calculation and daily reporting obligations.

The new regulatory regime should also contribute to diversify the supply. As it is well known, a broad range of manufacturers and products is essential to guarantee a competitive offer. For example, when EC asked to assess that certain products that are offered to consumers do not offer Value for Money, ESBG believes that there are already current requirements under product governance to address the performance of products and their costs and charges.

These are implemented through various measures taken by the manufacturers and distributors. Moreover, at the level of the distributors, a check is already carried out during the investment advice process as to whether the distributor also offers equivalent products to the product which is intended for recommendation. About which criteria should be used for an assessment of VfM, ESBG agrees that manufacturers already carry out comprehensive inquiries of the costs of their products in order to inform investors (i.e. in the PRIIPs KIDs), so that meaningful data is available on costs and charges. However, the client may take into other considerations like the horizon of investment of a piece of its savings, the level of security etc, so it is not possible to only take into account figures. The investor is usually interested in the most attractive possible return. The future return of a product cannot be predicted when it is launched.

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WSBI-ESBG shares its position on the draft FATF Guidance on the transparency and beneficial ownership of legal persons

In March 2022, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) adopted amendments to Recommendation 24 (R.24) on the transparency and beneficial ownership of legal persons. A draft update on the Guidance to R.24 was published afterwards, aiming to facilitate the implementation of the new rules.

The FATF Recommendations set out global AML/CFT measures and should be implemented by countries in the best way possible according to their legal, administrative and operational frameworks. The first batch of FATF Recommendations were published in 1990 and lastly updated in 2012. They are complemented by their Interpretive Notes and a Glossary of definitions.

The FATF Recommendation 24 (R.24) addresses the transparency and beneficial ownership of legal persons. Inter alia, R.24 provides advice on preventing the risks of misuse of legal persons for ML/TF, prohibiting legal persons to issue new bearer shares or bearer share warrants, and to take measures against the misuse of nominee shareholders and directors. Moreover, the access to beneficial ownership and control information by financial institutions and designated non-financial businesses and professions should be facilitated when meeting certain requirements.

In our response to the consultation, WSBI-ESBG asks for the following:
• Harmonisation of the rules on identifying senior managing officials when a beneficial owner cannot be identified;
• Verification of company registers by national authorities to foster the reliability of their information;
• Establishing an international beneficial owner register to be used by obligated parties in fulfilling their due diligence obligation;
• Creating a list of stock exchanges, that hold information of listed companies to be used for beneficial ownership obligations;
• Making the tax identification number as accessible as appropriate, in case it will be deemed as a necessary KYC-information;
• Permitting the exchange of beneficial ownership information within the same group of banks and between banks.

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ESBG's response to FATF draft amendments on the transparency and beneficial ownership of legal arrangements

Following a white paper on the revision of the rules on the transparency and beneficial ownership (BO) of legal arrangements, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) published draft amendments to its Recommendation 25 (R.25) and Interpretive Note (INR.25). The FATF may also amend the definition of BO in the glossary to provide more clarity regarding legal arrangements.

The FATF Recommendations set out global AML/CFT measures and should be implemented by countries in the best way possible according to their legal, administrative and operational frameworks. The first batch of FATF Recommendations were published in 1990 and lastly updated in 2012. They are complemented by their Interpretive Notes and a Glossary of definitions.

The FATF Recommendation 25 (R.25) addresses the transparency and beneficial ownership of legal arrangements. Inter alia, R.25 provides advice on measures to prevent the misuse of legal arrangements for ML/TF, and on facilitating the access to beneficial ownership and control information by financial institutions and designated non-financial businesses and professions when meeting certain requirements.

In our response, we highlighted that a definition of “basic ownership” is needed to provide legal certainty on the use of sources when obtaining beneficial ownership information. As a main challenge, we identified the different regulatory frameworks and transparency regimes that hamper the implementation of the rules.

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Inclusion of finance sector in EU due diligence law on the brink

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