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Bankers, policymakers explore proportionality, sustainability

Bankers, policymakers explore proportionality, sustainability

​​​​EU Commissioner Katainen headlines policy-focused event

​​​BRUSSELS, 26 June 2017 – Some 100 bankers, policymakers and financial industry researchers took part today in half-day conference in Brussels to debate how public policy can best help savings and retail banks play a stronger role to further spur jobs and growth.

Meeting at the ESBG-hosted Retail Banking Conference 2017, participants explored how a proportionate approach to public policy can help savings and retail banks thrive in a sustainable, innovative way while helping the communities they serve reap the fruits of globalisation.

​Under the conference theme, Proportionality and Sustainability as the Pillars for Growth, Chris De Noose, Managing Director of WSBI and ESBG, welcomed participants at The Hotel: “As memories of the financial crisis fade, people turn more focus on the big issues that face economies – jobs, growth and social cohesion. Policymakers and locally focused retail banks must deliver on all three."

Keynote by EU Commission's Katainen, Caixabank Chairman Gual

The conference them was echoed in opening keynote remarks​ by European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, who leads the EU executive's Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness dossier. Caixabank Chairman Jordi Gual followed with view reflecting the 1000 savings and retail banks represented by ESBG. ​     

Three panels tackle regulation, green finance, automation

Three policy-laden panels brought on stage policymakers, representatives from ESBG member banks and policy experts from think tanks and policy bodies.  European Parliament ECON Committee Vice-Chair Peter Simon took part the first panel on anchoring trust and adjusting regulation for a growing economy, joined by ICBA CEO Camden Fine, Johanna Orth, Head of Group Regulatory Affairs, Swedbank, and Karl-Peter Schackmann-Fallis, Executive Member of the Board, German Savings Banks Association.

The second panel, called Sourcing local banks for a sustainable future, brought together experts from the OECD, European Commission and DekaBank to discuss savings and retail banks role in green finance. Conference participants dug into how best to tap into the savings and retail banking model's strong SME finance focus. Discussion touched on financial inclusion, where savings and retail banks play a key role. Much work remains on this front, participants noted, as close to 40 million Europeans still lack a bank account and two billion people worldwide remain unbanked.

ECON Committee Member Mady Delvaux took part in a third panel that tackled policy implications of automation that included Beatriz Kissler, General Manager Banking Services Operations, Caixabank Group, as well as Péteris Zilgalvis, Head of Unit in charge of Startups and Innovation, DG Connect, European Commission.

​A path to more jobs and growth

​Bringing the promise of inclusive growth in a globalised world starts with SMEs and the jobs they create. Some 19 million people remain without a job in the EU28. Meantime, youth unemployment remains stubbornly high at 16.7%.

Getting Europe's jobless back to work rests squarely on SMEs making sure they have the financing they need to grow and hire. Locally focused banks have skins in the game – a half trillion euros in loans for SMEs, roughly the value of Sweden's gross domestic product.​

​Why the conference is important

Serving a third of Europe's retail banking market, locally-driven banks face headwinds. A low-interest environment continues to squeezes profit margins while banking rule compliance costs swell. Criticism from bodies like the IMF persist over the banking model's low levels of efficiency.

​De Noose concluded: “The future of banking is about sustainable banking. A proportionate approach to banking rules is one component, along with areas like innovation, which help deliver that promise. "

>> See programme


For more information, please contact:

-          James Pieper on +32 2 211 11 92 or at; or

-          Dirk Smet on +32 2 211 11 90 or at


Note to editor:

​About ESBG 

ESBG brings together nearly 1000 savings and retail banks in 20 European countries that believe in a common identity for European policies. ESBG members represent one of the largest European retail banking networks, comprising one-third of the retail banking market in Europe, with 190 million customers, more than 60,000 outlets, total assets of €7.1 trillion, non-bank deposits of €3.5 trillion, and non-bank loans of €3.7 trillion. ESBG members come together to agree on and promote common positions on relevant regulatory or supervisory matters.

Proportionality; Innovation; Digitalisation; Banking Technology