CEO FT’s most Sustainable Bank shares his views on 'new banking'
15 december 2009
According to the Financial Times Triodos Bank
is the world’s most sustainable bank
. This award has given international exposure to an institution that was already well known and very much appreciated in The Netherlands. In a recently published book Triodos CEO Peter Blom shares his view on ‘new banking’, resulting in a comprehensive and clear insight in the challenges of today’s banking industry. (“Het Nieuwe Bankieren, de duurzame oplossingen van bankier Peter Blom
.”,by Thomas Reijngoud, published in Dutch). Peter Blom argues that the financial crisis offers a great opportunity for designing a sustainable and inclusive economy and that the banking sector has an important role to play as catalyst and driver for this change. He presents 10 lessons for bankers and regulators that have to be taken into account on this endeavour, including: a focus on stakeholders instead of shareholders, limitation of shareholder voting rights, a plea for smaller banks, the decoupling of investment banks and saving banks, more transparency, limitation of bonuses, but also a warning for too many rules. Not everybody will necessarily agree with everything
Blom says (he says a lot), but every banker, policymaker and client should at least take the time to read this book. For it is a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate about the future of banking. (I believe Blom’s view is also very much in line with the statement of FIER
, the group of young bankers who are promoting changes in the financial sector).
Blom proposes that every bank should have a recognisable profile, such as sustainability for Triodos, or a cooperative bank for Rabobank. I agree with him that this is crucial. However, the banking industry should not take this lightly. It is not a matter of labelling, but a fundamental soul searching process. Top management should be leading the search towards such purpose. What are we standing for as a bank, and what am I in it for as an executive? These impactful question need some extensive reflection, both internally as well as with stakeholders. Ultimately these questions will define the relationships of banks and bankers with their clients. In a shift from a transaction to a relation based model, finding real answers should be a top priority. Let the dialogue continue! And hopefully 2010 will not only bring dialogue, but some fundamental changes and a healthier financial sector. The economy and society need it. It’s time for ‘new banking’.
For all English readers I hope the bespoke book will be translated in English.
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