Financial sector proposes quality standard for sustainable financial products

The Belgian financial sector consults various stakeholders on a proposal for a quality standard for sustainable financial products. The standard includes a sustainability label and several minimum requirements that such a product must meet.

As of today, April 25, 2018, until May 20 (prolonged) all interested parties can read the quality standard proposal via the Febelfin website, submit their comments and fill out a short survey.

See the bottom of the page for the survey and the documents.

 

On 31 January 2018, the High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance, the European Commission's expert group on sustainable finance, published its final report. This report proposes 8 strategic recommendations for a financial system that supports sustainable investments.

European Recommendations

One of the recommendations addresses the issue of retail investment in sustainable financial products. According to European Commission experts, savers should be given the opportunity to invest in portfolios that reflect their sustainable and ethical preferences. Furthermore, retail investors should be protected by minimum standards for such investments.

“Citizens with savings to invest should be empowered to invest in portfolios that reflect their sustainability and ethical preferences. The direct result would be to bring a substantial part of the EU’s financial assets into pools of capital contributing to sustainable finance.”

New Quality Standard

The Belgian financial sector has been taking initiatives in the field of sustainable investment since 2001. We have, for example, the sector recommendation on sustainable financial products, which has already been revised several times and was last amended in 2012. As sustainable savings and investments are increasingly gaining attention, both among retail and institutional investors, the Belgian financial sector has developed a proposal for a new quality standard for sustainable financial products. This standard is presented to professional stakeholders and the general public.

The quality standard defines several minimum requirements that sustainable financial products must meet, in both the investment process and the investment portfolio. In addition, an ambitious sustainability label is proposed.

With the quality standard, the sector aims to stimulate a larger and better offer of sustainable financial products and to extend the principles of the standard to traditional financial products as well. Sustainable financial products must therefore set an example and demonstrate that financial results and societal objectives can be reconciled in practice.

Consultation Procedure

In order to attain a widely supported quality standard, Febelfin is consulting all stakeholders.

The consultation procedure is carried out in two phases: the first phase, which ran from 6 March to 15 April, involved consultation of professional stakeholders (fund and asset managers, banks, institutional investors, civil society organisations, professional associations, sustainability experts and public authorities). In the second phase, from 25 April to 20 May, the general public will be consulted.

As of April 25 until May 20 (prolonged) all interested parties can read the quality standard proposal via the Febelfin website, submit their comments and fill out a short survey.

An advisory panel was also set up to guide the whole consultation process. This panel brings together representatives of the main stakeholder groups: asset managers, banks, asset owners, civil society, professional associations, sustainability experts and government.

Consultation Documents

  • Short survey on the interpretation of sustainable financial products
  • Summary of the quality standard proposal
  • Full text of the quality standard proposal

If you have any questions, please contact us at sustainablefinance@febelfin.be

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