Sustainable ways of providing finance and insurance
As a 100% Belgian bank and insurance company, we make sure that virtually all customer deposits are channelled back into the Belgian community and economy:
Overall deposits received in 2019 totalled 95 billion euro. Total outstanding loans were 93.8 billion euro.
In 2013, Belfius provided around 10 billion euro in long-term finance, across all customer segments. By the end of 2019, that figure had doubled to 20 billion euro.
Following the Paris climate summit in 2015, the EU set itself the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. For that to happen, around 180 billion euro of extra investment will be needed each year. Financial institutions are playing a key role in reaching this target by focusing the finance they issue on sustainable activities and programmes.
In Belgium, Belfius has stepped up to the plate to become the driving force in making the Belgian economy increasingly sustainable. In doing so, we have developed a range of financial solutions for our customers to enable them to achieve their own sustainable operating targets:
The partnership with the Belgian company, CO2logic enables Belfius to guide its customers in their programmes to reduce their own CO2 emissions.
Find out more about our collaboration with CO2logic.
Funding energy-efficient projects through new technologies and programmes, in conjunction with the European Investment Bank (EIB):
BEEP (Belfius Energy Efficiency Package): through BEEP, Belfius offers government departments, educational establishments and social profit organisations a unique finance package that enables them to boost their investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Read more about BEEP (FR).
ELENA (European Local Energy Assistance) is an EIB subsidy programme operated in conjunction with the European Commission for projects focusing on energy efficiency and renewable energy linked to buildings. Belfius is the first and only commercial bank to be allocated an Elena subsidy to actively help and guide its customers in bringing these projects to fruition..
Smart Cities & Climate Action & Circular Economy. Working with the European Investment Bank (EIB), we have been tackling the challenges facing local authorities since 2014. No fewer than 187 projects whose impact is felt in the daily lives of millions of people in Belgium have since seen the light of day, representing an investment in excess of 1.3 billion euro. Read more about Smart Cities & Climate Action & Circular Economy (FR).
Smart Building & RenovationSolution (SBRS) is an all-in formula for financing sustainable and affordable public buildings and care infrastructure. SBRS is based on the many years of experience built up by our own property specialists and the expertise of specialised, innovative partners. Read more about SBRS (FR).
Belfius helps Belgian families with their energy-saving building and renovation projects with two specific loans: the Green Renovation Loan and the Housing Loan for Energy-Efficient Building.
And with our Green Bonds, we provide ways for government departments, intermunicipal companies and businesses to diversify their funding by issuing “green” bonds and by reinforcing their policies on sustainability.
Opting for renewable energy and green investments
We are making maximum use of our financing capacity for the transition to a low-carbon energy system through energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy production.
As of 31 December 2019, Belfius invested some 1.5 billion euro in renewable energy. This took the form of projects in biomass, solar energy (PV installations), onshore and offshore wind energy, combined heat and power systems and energy efficiency. Taken together, these projects provide enough renewable energy to meet the power requirements of approximately 2.8 million Belgian families, while avoiding the emission of about 3.8 million tons of CO2 each year. We do not provide finance for companies involved in the extraction of coal and/or unconventional oil and gas sources. And in the energy production sector, we do not finance projects based on fossil fuels. The only funding we provide to companies in the fossil fuels sector is to assist their transition to new and renewable energy technologies and applications. Belfius’ energy transition policy is set out in the policy guidelines for sector-specific restrictions.
Vendor leasing: this is a financing technique by which Belfius customers, such as manufacturers, importers or machinery distributors, are able to offer their own customers a solution for the use of capital equipment, in return for regular periodic payments. The technique works perfectly as a tool for the circular economy. Belfius Lease is also looking at creating a platform for second-hand equipment.
Belfius Auto Lease (BAL) is in the process of positioning itself more as a supplier of sustainable mobility:
E-Fleet (FR) is an all-in-one leasing solution for electric cars, combined with other sustainable means of transport. BAL also offers customers the ability to install charging stations at home and in company car parks.
And through its new partnership with Cyclis (FR) , Belfius Auto Lease is also expanding its mobility range in Belgium for employers and employees. This offering includes lease packages for all types of bicycle, supplemented by a wide range of ancillary services.
Specific insurance solutions for issues with major social impact
Insurance companies have always made an important contribution to providing sustainable solutions for current social issues, such as the ageing population, (supplementary pensions, hospitalisation insurance, etc.), the risk of premature death, cover against natural disasters and so on. Specifically to cater for precisely these issues, the Belfius Insurance product range Insurance has been refined even further, in both the “life insurance” and “non-life insurance” segments:
The Drive for Life Guarantee from DVV car insurance keeps the over-60s on the road by ensuring that their compulsory Civil Liability insurance can never be cancelled. And customers who drive an electric or other environmentally friendly vehicle receive a discount on their premiums, based on their CO2 emissions.
Belfius Home & Family insurance provides additional cover for grandchildren in the care of grandparents, as well as cover for a second home, aimed mainly at senior citizens.
Belfius Home Credit Protect life insurance offers optional Serious Diseases cover.
YuMe is a digital tool that makes customers more aware of their increasing life expectancy, helping them to prepare for those important moments in life yet to come, as well as the dreams they still want to make come true.
Investing with social impact
More and more investors these days have higher expectations when it comes to the social impact of their investments. Apart from these higher expectations, the banks have an enormous task ahead of them, born out of social necessity, to develop specific products targeted at tackling climate change, environmental pollution, breaches of human rights, water shortages, loss of biodiversity, the arms race, the ageing population, etc.
To address these growing challenges, we offer investors a full, transparent and segmented range of sustainable investment funds, managed by Belfius Investment Partners (our subsidiary for the management and administration of investment funds) and Candriam (which has long been the preferred external partner of Belfius in this field). Both Belfius IP and Candriam are signatories of the "UNPRI" (United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment) quality charter.
Varying methods of sustainable fund management
Depending on the type of investment, we apply various levels of screening and a specific approach to sustainable investing, occasionally in conjunction with external partners:
Basic screening, which amounts to applying exclusions required by law.
A “Best-in-class” approach that retains only those companies that perform best in the area of sustainable development within their sector or region.
A theme-based approach, which focuses fully on identifying companies that actively offer solutions to global challenges for sustainability issues, such as water shortages and sustainable forestry management, sustainable energy and clean technology, food supplies and quality, security and the protection of personal data and health.
This type of fund, which we developed in 2019, invests in entities that provide solutions/products aimed at tackling specific social and/or environmental problems. Belfius adds another dimension to this by supporting charities financially. Examples:
Belfius Equities Cure (FR) invests in companies pioneering research into cancer. We redirect part of the management fees paid by customers to the Anti-Cancer Foundation. Since the fund was launched, 211 million euro (as of 31/12/2019) has been invested in in Belfius Equities Cure. This, in turn, has generated 155,000 euro from Belfius for the Anti-Cancer Foundation.
Belfius Equities Climate (FR) invests in companies offering solutions for the major challenges of climate change. The fund also aims to be carbon-neutral. Any CO2 emissions from the underlying economic activity that cannot be totally eliminated are offset through worldwide projects for CO2 reduction and CO2 capture and storage.
Portfolio21: sustainable portfolio management by Belfius Insurance
Like all insurers, Belfius Insurance retains a financial reserve that enables it to meet its contractual obligations with regard to making capital payments and paying annuities and compensation to customers. This reserve is created mainly by the insurance premiums paid by customers.
Belfius Insurance invests these reserves in line with the principles of “Portfolio21”, the sustainable management project developed by Belfius Insurance with Candriam and the independent agency, Vigeo Eiris. It involves an overall investment strategy through which non-financial criteria are incorporated transparently into the management process. The exclusion criteria are based mainly on compliance with leading international norms and standards, such as:
the ILO (International Labour Organisation), which applies criteria relating to basic employee rights on the workfloor.
the Government Pension Fund of Norway: Portfolio21 applies the same strict standards for protection of the environment as the Government Pension Fund of Norway, excluding anyone who breaches those standards.
The investment portfolio is slanted strongly towards Belgian securities: as of 31/12/2019, 5.91 billion euro or 69.52% of the total government bonds was invested in Belgian state bonds. And out of the total equity portfolio, 685.7 million euro or 62.3% was focused mainly on Belgium.
Our aims and aspirations
The Belgian SRI label, "Towards Sustainability", was launched at the beginning of 2019. This label is a quality standard that provides investors with a guarantee that quality criteria are applied to investment products that are both sustainable and socially responsible. At the present time, around 15% of our funds have this label. By 2025, Belfius aims to be able to offer its customers a range of investment funds made up solely of funds with the Belgian SRI label and funds that have a dual societal impact.
Innovation working on behalf of sustainable development
At Belfius, innovation and sustainable development are inextricably linked. We see innovation as a springboard towards a sustainable environmental, social and economic future. A number of tech-based services drawing on our digital expertise are in place to encourage businesses, their employees, local authorities and ordinary people to adopt more sustainable habits.
The (Belfius) Studio is a Belfius subsidiary that has based its business model around the use of blockchain as an innovative and practical technology for creating valuable and unique solutions in Belgium (and abroad). Through applications targeted at towns/cities, local authorities and intermunicipal companies, The Studio meets the needs of Belfius customers in the public and social sector, while at the same time providing solutions to personal customers. Examples include:
Buck-e: The Buck-e digital mobility platform is aimed at schools and local councils and is designed to encourage children to walk or cycle to school. Read more about Buck-e (FR).
My Waste is an app launched by The Studio and MIWA, the intermunicipal waste management company. The app encourages Waasland residents to produce less waste. Read more about MIWA MY WASTE (FR).
City Vouchers: a digital platform launched
in 2020, City Vouchers are aimed at local authorities and are designed to
promote local purchases and shorter supply chains. They all assist in the fight
against the impoverishment of city centres.