<![CDATA[CaixaBank - Communication]]> https://www.caixabank.com/aplnr/comunicacion/buscador/servicio.noticiasRSS_en.html WordPress <![CDATA[Cómo convertirte en el líder que necesita tu empresa]]> https://blog.caixabank.es/?p=23645 2021-01-21T07:18:59.0Z 2021-01-21T07:18:59.0Z <![CDATA[Cómo convertirte en el líder que necesita tu empresa]]> 0 <![CDATA[MicroBank grants €349.7 million in loans to combat economic effects of COVID-19]]> https://blog.caixabank.es/?p=23645 2021-01-20T10:00:00.0Z 2021-01-20T10:00:00.0Z <![CDATA[MicroBank grants €349.7 million in loans to combat economic effects of COVID-19]]> MicroBank, the social bank wholly-owned by CaixaBank, Spain’s leading retail bank, has granted a total of 26,854 loans valued at €349.7 million intended to curb the economic effects of COVID-19 throughout 2020. It is precisely with this goal that the social bank, specialising in microloans and other funding with social impact, created specific funding facilities in March, designed to support self-employed workers, micro-enterprises and families, as well as promoting its loans for social enterprises in order to combat an unprecedented crisis. MicroBank is strengthened the CaixaBank Group's commitment to contributing to the well-being of society, especially to the most vulnerable groups.

As part of the ICO funding facilities, from 15 March until 31 December 2020, MicroBank granted upwards of €250 million through 21,058 loans. In parallel, the bank implemented the EIF-Covid19 Loan, a specific new facility intended to meet the working capital needs of the self-employed and micro-enterprises of up to nine employees with an annual turnover under €2 million. MicroBank and the EIF have agreed to extend the validity of this product until 30 June 2021. Throughout 2020, a total of 3,424 loans were granted under this facility, valued at upwards of €53.5 million.

This new funding facility has been implemented thanks to the European Commission sub-programme COSME COVID19, and offers a loans facility of €310 million euros for businesses that have liquidity problems as a result of the crisis arising from the pandemic, and which cannot access an ICO facility or need to complement it. The maximum amount of the loan is €50,000, and allows applicants to request a principal grace period of up to 12 months.

Solutions for families in situations of vulnerability

MicroBank, aware of the devastating economic effects brought about by COVID-19 for thousands of families, and thanks to an agreement with the ICO, also implemented a new funding facility for customers and non-customers in situations of vulnerability who could not meet the rental payments on their main home. A total of 2,110 homes have benefited from the measure, with a total amount of upwards of €7.6 million granted, up to the end of December.

Furthermore, families who needed it were also offered the opportunity to request moratoria on their loans. In total, 40,044 moratoria and refinancing and restructuring operations were undertaken in 2020.

Support to social enterprises

In order to support projects that generate a positive social and measurable impact for society, MicroBank launched the EaSI loan in 2018. This funding facility became a major alternative in 2020 for social enterprises and companies in the third sector to combat the effects of the current social, economic and health crisis. Following on from this, up to the end of 2020, loans valued at upwards of €37.7 million were granted, 130% up on the figure of 2019. Thus, organisations that generate a positive social impact, especially those which have been on the frontline related to sectors such as healthcare, the fight to combat poverty and social-labour inclusion, have been able to access funding to consolidate their business model at a particularly complicated time. 

Socially responsible banking

MicroBank offers solutions to different segments of the population whose financial needs are not sufficiently met. It has a defining role in CaixaBank's Socially Responsible Banking Plan, the mission of which is to promote financial inclusion by helping all social groups access loans, especially the most vulnerable groups, as well as reinforcing its commitment towards the territory's socioeconomic development.

CaixaBank is MicroBank's only shareholder and since its inception, it has lent the social bank its support through two channels: by giving it the funding required to grow its lending activity while marketing MicroBank products through CaixaBank's commercial network of close to 4,000 branches, with the aim of offering customers its entire range of products with the highest possible quality of service and the best possible relationship.

MicroBank's 2019-2021 Strategic Plan has given the company fresh impetus to face the challenges and goals set: financial inclusion, promotion of the productive activity and generation of social impact.

]]>
MicroBank, the social bank wholly-owned by CaixaBank, Spain’s leading retail bank, has granted a total of 26,854 loans valued at €349.7 million intended to curb the economic effects of COVID-19 throughout 2020. It is precisely with this goal that the social bank, specialising in microloans and other funding with social impact, created specific funding facilities in March, designed to support self-employed workers, micro-enterprises and families, as well as promoting its loans for social enterprises in order to combat an unprecedented crisis. MicroBank is strengthened the CaixaBank Group's commitment to contributing to the well-being of society, especially to the most vulnerable groups.

As part of the ICO funding facilities, from 15 March until 31 December 2020, MicroBank granted upwards of €250 million through 21,058 loans. In parallel, the bank implemented the EIF-Covid19 Loan, a specific new facility intended to meet the working capital needs of the self-employed and micro-enterprises of up to nine employees with an annual turnover under €2 million. MicroBank and the EIF have agreed to extend the validity of this product until 30 June 2021. Throughout 2020, a total of 3,424 loans were granted under this facility, valued at upwards of €53.5 million.

This new funding facility has been implemented thanks to the European Commission sub-programme COSME COVID19, and offers a loans facility of €310 million euros for businesses that have liquidity problems as a result of the crisis arising from the pandemic, and which cannot access an ICO facility or need to complement it. The maximum amount of the loan is €50,000, and allows applicants to request a principal grace period of up to 12 months.

Solutions for families in situations of vulnerability

MicroBank, aware of the devastating economic effects brought about by COVID-19 for thousands of families, and thanks to an agreement with the ICO, also implemented a new funding facility for customers and non-customers in situations of vulnerability who could not meet the rental payments on their main home. A total of 2,110 homes have benefited from the measure, with a total amount of upwards of €7.6 million granted, up to the end of December.

Furthermore, families who needed it were also offered the opportunity to request moratoria on their loans. In total, 40,044 moratoria and refinancing and restructuring operations were undertaken in 2020.

Support to social enterprises

In order to support projects that generate a positive social and measurable impact for society, MicroBank launched the EaSI loan in 2018. This funding facility became a major alternative in 2020 for social enterprises and companies in the third sector to combat the effects of the current social, economic and health crisis. Following on from this, up to the end of 2020, loans valued at upwards of €37.7 million were granted, 130% up on the figure of 2019. Thus, organisations that generate a positive social impact, especially those which have been on the frontline related to sectors such as healthcare, the fight to combat poverty and social-labour inclusion, have been able to access funding to consolidate their business model at a particularly complicated time. 

Socially responsible banking

MicroBank offers solutions to different segments of the population whose financial needs are not sufficiently met. It has a defining role in CaixaBank's Socially Responsible Banking Plan, the mission of which is to promote financial inclusion by helping all social groups access loans, especially the most vulnerable groups, as well as reinforcing its commitment towards the territory's socioeconomic development.

CaixaBank is MicroBank's only shareholder and since its inception, it has lent the social bank its support through two channels: by giving it the funding required to grow its lending activity while marketing MicroBank products through CaixaBank's commercial network of close to 4,000 branches, with the aim of offering customers its entire range of products with the highest possible quality of service and the best possible relationship.

MicroBank's 2019-2021 Strategic Plan has given the company fresh impetus to face the challenges and goals set: financial inclusion, promotion of the productive activity and generation of social impact.

]]>
0
<![CDATA[imagin reaches 3 million users and consolidates its leading position in digital financial services for young people in Spain]]> https://blog.caixabank.es/?p=23645 2021-01-18T00:00:00.0Z 2021-01-18T00:00:00.0Z <![CDATA[imagin reaches 3 million users and consolidates its leading position in digital financial services for young people in Spain]]>
imagin, the digital service and lifestyle platform for millennials offered by CaixaBank, Spain’s leading retail bank, has reached three million users by the end of 2020. The imaginers community has doubled in size over the last six months and has seen a 15% increase in new users (over 400,000 people) since June when imagin launched its new lifestyle-focused digital community concept for young people.

This data strengthens imagin's leading position as a digital financial services player, as shown in the latest study by SmartMe Analytics, which ranks the platform as the leading app among the main neobanks and fintechs in Spain, with a market share of 14.6%.

The recorded growth is a result of imagin's new strategy of promoting loyalty among its users through the creation of digital financial and non-financial services, which, unlike traditional banking, do not necessarily require users to register as banking customers.

In addition to increasing the number of new users, imagin has also managed to boost the loyalty of existing imaginers. In recent months, over 50% of imagin users have accessed the app more than four times a week. As an example of this significant volume of activity, on 4 January, the app was accessed 1.4 million times, beating all previous records of use for the app.

According to imagin data, the typical customer profile is mainly represented by women (52%) with an average age of 24 years, living in a large city (62% distributed between Madrid and Barcelona).

imaginers community

The services and digital content for the imaginers community are organised into five major themes: music (imaginMusic), video games (imaginGames), trends (imaginCafé), technology (imaginShop), and sustainability (imaginPlanet). imagin also offers special experiences and benefits related to travel and urban mobility.

The imagin application offers a range of products to meet the savings and financial needs of young people who have entered adulthood and are starting to earn their first income and make their own lifestyle plans. In all cases, imagin has key features for millennials: mobile-only operations (services are provided exclusively through the app with no branches, and the website only serving for informative purposes), no fees for the user, and the use of clear, simple language, especially tailored for direct communication with millennials.

imagin offers two more applications based on the age of the user: imaginKids (aimed at children between 0 and 11 years old with a strong focus on financial education through games) and imaginTeens (designed for teenagers aged 12 to 17, offering content and services designed for young people who need solutions for their first purchases and are starting to manage their personal finances). 

imagin, an open-platform innovation model

In terms of technology, imagin has developed an open-platform model where it can combine its own services with third-party technologies and products, thereby creating a space for collaboration with other fintech or start-ups. Another key development is imagin's collaboration with Plug and Play, the world's leading innovation platform and most active in venture capital, which has been in place since the launch of the new app, as well as its new alliance with the company Airbnb since October.

A solid sustainability strategy with B Corp certification

imagin's range of services also reinforces the community's clear commitment to sustainability, one of the key pillars of its strategy, to the extent that it has its own thematic block (imaginPlanet) and has even been incorporated into its trade policy: instead of the traditional gift for new customers or existing customers who increase their membership status, imagin offers its users the chance to participate in sustainable actions that benefit the entire community.

The imagin sustainability model has obtained the B Corp seal, which certifies the organisation's compliance with the strictest standards for social and environmental matters, public transparency, and corporate social responsibility to balance financial profits with social goals. imagin is the first mobile-only financial services platform to obtain this certification. 

]]>

imagin, the digital service and lifestyle platform for millennials offered by CaixaBank, Spain’s leading retail bank, has reached three million users by the end of 2020. The imaginers community has doubled in size over the last six months and has seen a 15% increase in new users (over 400,000 people) since June when imagin launched its new lifestyle-focused digital community concept for young people.

This data strengthens imagin's leading position as a digital financial services player, as shown in the latest study by SmartMe Analytics, which ranks the platform as the leading app among the main neobanks and fintechs in Spain, with a market share of 14.6%.

The recorded growth is a result of imagin's new strategy of promoting loyalty among its users through the creation of digital financial and non-financial services, which, unlike traditional banking, do not necessarily require users to register as banking customers.

In addition to increasing the number of new users, imagin has also managed to boost the loyalty of existing imaginers. In recent months, over 50% of imagin users have accessed the app more than four times a week. As an example of this significant volume of activity, on 4 January, the app was accessed 1.4 million times, beating all previous records of use for the app.

According to imagin data, the typical customer profile is mainly represented by women (52%) with an average age of 24 years, living in a large city (62% distributed between Madrid and Barcelona).

imaginers community

The services and digital content for the imaginers community are organised into five major themes: music (imaginMusic), video games (imaginGames), trends (imaginCafé), technology (imaginShop), and sustainability (imaginPlanet). imagin also offers special experiences and benefits related to travel and urban mobility.

The imagin application offers a range of products to meet the savings and financial needs of young people who have entered adulthood and are starting to earn their first income and make their own lifestyle plans. In all cases, imagin has key features for millennials: mobile-only operations (services are provided exclusively through the app with no branches, and the website only serving for informative purposes), no fees for the user, and the use of clear, simple language, especially tailored for direct communication with millennials.

imagin offers two more applications based on the age of the user: imaginKids (aimed at children between 0 and 11 years old with a strong focus on financial education through games) and imaginTeens (designed for teenagers aged 12 to 17, offering content and services designed for young people who need solutions for their first purchases and are starting to manage their personal finances). 

imagin, an open-platform innovation model

In terms of technology, imagin has developed an open-platform model where it can combine its own services with third-party technologies and products, thereby creating a space for collaboration with other fintech or start-ups. Another key development is imagin's collaboration with Plug and Play, the world's leading innovation platform and most active in venture capital, which has been in place since the launch of the new app, as well as its new alliance with the company Airbnb since October.

A solid sustainability strategy with B Corp certification

imagin's range of services also reinforces the community's clear commitment to sustainability, one of the key pillars of its strategy, to the extent that it has its own thematic block (imaginPlanet) and has even been incorporated into its trade policy: instead of the traditional gift for new customers or existing customers who increase their membership status, imagin offers its users the chance to participate in sustainable actions that benefit the entire community.

The imagin sustainability model has obtained the B Corp seal, which certifies the organisation's compliance with the strictest standards for social and environmental matters, public transparency, and corporate social responsibility to balance financial profits with social goals. imagin is the first mobile-only financial services platform to obtain this certification. 

]]>
0
<![CDATA[CaixaBank to identify its branches and work centres as Covid-19 safe spaces as certified by Applus+]]> https://blog.caixabank.es/?p=23645 2021-01-17T00:00:00.0Z 2021-01-17T00:00:00.0Z <![CDATA[CaixaBank to identify its branches and work centres as Covid-19 safe spaces as certified by Applus+]]>
CaixaBank, Spain’s leading retail bank, has obtained the Covid-19 protocol certification granted by Applus+ Certification, which certifies that the entity chaired by Jordi Gual and directed by Gonzalo Gortázar has successfully introduced an exhaustive protocol of organisational and preventive measures in its corporate centres and branch network, the largest in the Spanish financial sector.

From next week, the new certification signage will start to be incorporated at CaixaBank branches (over 4,000 across Spain), displayed at the entrance of each branch to inform the public.

Since the start of the pandemic, CaixaBank has implemented preventive measures and action protocols in its health, safety, and well-being management system aimed at managing cases of coronavirus infection and resuming in-branch operations. These protocols have been assessed and verified by Applus+ with the advice of Quirón Prevención. The certification team conducted an exhaustive audit of its performance with visits to corporate buildings in several locations, including Valencia, Barcelona and Madrid, as well as to branches from the national network.

Obtaining this certification reinforces the effort made by CaixaBank to enable employees to return to work safely, while also demonstrating risk control and reducing incidents related to Covid-19. 

CaixaBank #WithYouMoreThanEver during the Covid-19 crisis

Since the start of the crisis provoked by the Covid-19 pandemic, CaixaBank, as a key service provider and leading retail network in the Spanish financial sector, has implemented an action plan to adapt to the new situation while maintaining its customer service and activity at all levels (i.e., branches, regional offices, and corporate services), in addition to employing the necessary preventive measures for all job positions: supply of masks, partitions at all customer-facing positions, distribution of gels, design of very early tracking and isolation procedures, customised medical follow-up in the event of possible cases, testing for employees who display symptoms or have been in contact with an infected person (even outside of the work environment), and regular, large-scale screening at all centres.

Thanks to these implemented measures and the commitment and hard work of the more than 35,000 employees of the CaixaBank Group, the company has maintained its operations at all times, while also managing to strengthen its role of supporting society. From March, under the slogan #ContigoMásQueNunca (WithYouMoreThanEver), CaixaBank has operated an extensive activity plan aimed at reducing the economic and social impact of the Covid-19 crisis, guaranteeing financing for companies and individuals, and responding to the needs of the most affected groups. As a socially responsible bank, CaixaBank is committed to finding the best possible solutions to reactivate the economy together.

Recently, CaixaBank received the “Excellence in Leadership in Western Europe 2020” award from British magazine Euromoney for its commitment to people and society in response to the Covid-19 crisis. The newly created Excellence in Leadership awards acknowledge the leading banks in the world that have shown their commitment towards being part of the global solution against the pandemic with measures and aids aimed at driving economic and social recovery.

]]>

CaixaBank, Spain’s leading retail bank, has obtained the Covid-19 protocol certification granted by Applus+ Certification, which certifies that the entity chaired by Jordi Gual and directed by Gonzalo Gortázar has successfully introduced an exhaustive protocol of organisational and preventive measures in its corporate centres and branch network, the largest in the Spanish financial sector.

From next week, the new certification signage will start to be incorporated at CaixaBank branches (over 4,000 across Spain), displayed at the entrance of each branch to inform the public.

Since the start of the pandemic, CaixaBank has implemented preventive measures and action protocols in its health, safety, and well-being management system aimed at managing cases of coronavirus infection and resuming in-branch operations. These protocols have been assessed and verified by Applus+ with the advice of Quirón Prevención. The certification team conducted an exhaustive audit of its performance with visits to corporate buildings in several locations, including Valencia, Barcelona and Madrid, as well as to branches from the national network.

Obtaining this certification reinforces the effort made by CaixaBank to enable employees to return to work safely, while also demonstrating risk control and reducing incidents related to Covid-19. 

CaixaBank #WithYouMoreThanEver during the Covid-19 crisis

Since the start of the crisis provoked by the Covid-19 pandemic, CaixaBank, as a key service provider and leading retail network in the Spanish financial sector, has implemented an action plan to adapt to the new situation while maintaining its customer service and activity at all levels (i.e., branches, regional offices, and corporate services), in addition to employing the necessary preventive measures for all job positions: supply of masks, partitions at all customer-facing positions, distribution of gels, design of very early tracking and isolation procedures, customised medical follow-up in the event of possible cases, testing for employees who display symptoms or have been in contact with an infected person (even outside of the work environment), and regular, large-scale screening at all centres.

Thanks to these implemented measures and the commitment and hard work of the more than 35,000 employees of the CaixaBank Group, the company has maintained its operations at all times, while also managing to strengthen its role of supporting society. From March, under the slogan #ContigoMásQueNunca (WithYouMoreThanEver), CaixaBank has operated an extensive activity plan aimed at reducing the economic and social impact of the Covid-19 crisis, guaranteeing financing for companies and individuals, and responding to the needs of the most affected groups. As a socially responsible bank, CaixaBank is committed to finding the best possible solutions to reactivate the economy together.

Recently, CaixaBank received the “Excellence in Leadership in Western Europe 2020” award from British magazine Euromoney for its commitment to people and society in response to the Covid-19 crisis. The newly created Excellence in Leadership awards acknowledge the leading banks in the world that have shown their commitment towards being part of the global solution against the pandemic with measures and aids aimed at driving economic and social recovery.

]]>
0
<![CDATA[The post-COVID-19 recovery: what challenges and roadmap for the banking industry?]]> https://blog.caixabank.es/?p=23645 2021-01-14T00:00:00.0Z 2021-01-14T00:00:00.0Z <![CDATA[The post-COVID-19 recovery: what challenges and roadmap for the banking industry?]]> This speech is divided into two parts. First, I would like to share some thoughts on the regulatory response to the Covid-19 crisis. My comments will concentrate on the Eurozone policy reaction and its effects on the performance of the banking industry. Afterwards, I will focus on the impending challenge of how to handle the consequences of the economic crisis on the quality of the balance sheets of banks.

1.The regulatory response to the Covid-19 crisis.

The economic effects of the restrictions on economic activity following the outbreak of the pandemic have been accompanied by an extraordinary response by policy makers.

We have seen unprecedented measures taken both in terms of fiscal and monetary policy. Fiscal policy has provided direct support to families and businesses as well as loan guarantees and debt moratoria implemented through the financial system. Monetary policy has provided liquidity support as well as enhanced credit facilities through interest rate policy and new exceptional measures of quantitative easing.

The extraordinary and coordinated policy response has encompassed banking regulators and supervisors. In a context of extreme uncertainty, this policy reaction was essential to ensure that banks continued to fulfil their role of providing credit and liquidity to the economy.

The degree of coordination between authorities has been remarkable. National and international regulators and supervisors have acted with a common goal: to promote financial stability and ensure that funding reaches those who need it the most.

Broadly speaking we have seen decisions providing regulatory relief to financial intermediaries, as well as measures restricting the distribution of dividends, in order to increase the availability of capital to absorb losses and support lending in the face of increased uncertainty.

In terms of regulatory relief, the micro-prudential supervisor (the SSM) has adopted decisions based on a macroprudential perspective, relaxing some of the capital requirements. The European Commission has also carried out a rapid review of the Capital Requirements Regulation2, anticipating the application of some elements that offered capital relief and facilitating the implementation of others over time (as with the introduction of the new accounting framework, IFRS 9).

Banks have also contributed, offering their own relief measures for debtors such as extending payment moratoria, granting pre-approved loans or advancing the payment of pensions and unemployment benefits.

All this has helped to preserve confidence and ensure credit and liquidity were extended to the economy at times of maximum need. Credit growth figures show that support has been unprecedented. For example, in Spain, France, Portugal and Italy, credit to non-financial corporations and individual entrepreneurs increased by rates above 7% year-on-year in October 2020, far above the pace registered before the pandemic.

I will review next both the regulatory relief decisions as well as the restrictions on dividends. The goal is to assess the extent to which these have been effective ways to help the banking system confront the challenges brought about by the pandemic.

A. Regulatory relief measures

The relief measures include those related to the recently-introduced accounting framework (IFRS9), as well as the decisions regarding the capital ratios that must be satisfied by banks. In both cases these measures bring us back to the old debate regarding the procyclicality3 of the banking regulatory framework and the need to counteract the undesired effects of this procyclicality.

IFRS 9

One clear example of procyclicality is IFRS9, the new accounting framework that has replaced the incurred loss model with the expected loss model as a way to estimate bank provisions. Under IFRS 9, bank provisions should be calculated based on an estimate of future losses rather than waiting until these losses have already materialised. 

At the time this standard was being developed,4 some people already warned that its main drawback could be its procyclicality, as it substantially increases the volume of provisions during economic downturns. 

Due to the outbreak of the pandemic and the sudden change in economic forecasts, this risk has materialized. This has forced the major accounting and prudential authorities to make the most of all the flexibility offered by IFRS95 in its application, using alternative macro scenarios to smooth out the effect of the abrupt changes resulting from COVID until more information on the magnitude of the current shock becomes available. The implementation of IFRS9, carried out in phases over several years, has also been postponed by the European Commission6 to provide banks some temporary relief. 

Ideally, we would like to have a system that builds a provision cushion in good times, not one that requires a huge and sudden effort in times of distress. This was emphasized years ago among others by economists at the Bank of Spain, which had a system of this kind (dynamic provisioning). 

Capital ratios

The procyclicality of the regulatory framework was known also to be important in the capital regulation of banks7

In theory, banks accumulate capital to be able to handle unexpected losses (and therefore not covered by provisions). Beyond the minimum capital requirements, which follow mainly a micro-prudential approach, banks also accumulate capital buffers8, which are macro-prudential to some extent, to ensure the stability of the financial system as a whole. 

In response to the crisis and given the fear that uncertainty could reduce the provision of credit to the economy supervisory authorities such as the ECB have encouraged banks to make use of these capital buffers. However, they have been used by less than expected. 

The supervisor estimated that capital relief measures would free up around 140 billion euros9 of CET1 capital to preserve the banks' ability to absorb losses and to provide credit to the economy10. However, according to the supervisor's own data for the second quarter of 2020, the banking sector's capital ratios remained at the same level as year-end 201911

Several factors have been proposed to explain the reluctance to use capital buffers.

  • On the one hand, there are three regulatory aspects in the current framework that limit the buffer usability:
    • First, restrictions on the remuneration of equity instruments (shares and AT1 instruments) when operating below the combined buffer (MDA limits) and the small relative weight of counter-cyclical components. In fact, the countercyclical capital buffer, which is the only one specifically designed to be released at low points in the cycle, accounted for just 0.1% of risk-weighted assets in the euro area at the start of the pandemic and had not been activated in most EU jurisdictions12. The capital conservation buffer, on the other hand, is set by law at 2.5% and its use would automatically trigger MDA restrictions.
    • Second, uncertainty regarding the timeline for rebuilding buffers.
    • Finally, we should not forget that there are other regulatory/prudential requirements that are not as risk- based (such as the leverage ratio and resolution requirements) that could also be binding, at least temporarily. 
  • On the other hand, the role played by market pressure to avoid the erosion of capital buffers should not be underestimated: i) when information is incomplete, the payment of dividends is seen as a signal to the market that a business is profitable, with the result that this capacity to pay out dividends tends to be maintained; ii) banks' preference for maintaining high levels of capital to be able to take advantage of potential M&A opportunities that may arise at times of crisis13, and (iii) the potential increase in funding costs (or discounts on equity prices relative to book value) resulting from a decrease in capital levels14.

It is estimated that out of the 140 bn€ of freed up capital due to the regulatory relief measures, possibly around 1/3 has been used by the industry during the first half of the year. This would correspond to those that can be employed more flexibly, and in particular the coverage of P2R with non-CET1 instruments, as well as the countercyclical buffer. Banks, for the reasons explained, have been on the whole reluctant to diminish the management buffer. It must be remembered, at the same time, that over this period some regulatory activities revising the quality of banks’ models has continued, often times involving higher levels of capital requirements (for example, the TRIM exercise). 

Some regulatory and supervisory forums have already started to discuss the possibility of revising the current framework and its future design. One of the possible solutions is to recalibrate the relative weight of cyclical and structural buffers15

These proposals seem to be heading in the right direction but there is a risk they will end up not being effective and will merely result in another generalized increase in capital requirements for the sector as a whole. 

Let me explain. Irrespectively of the final design of the capital buffer structure, there is still a risk that the desired objectives will not be achieved unless the framework leads to a coordinated and similar use of buffers among banks16. As banks interact in a global market, where they compete to raise funds, competitive pressure creates the incentive to stand out from the rest and maintain relatively high capital ratios that convey an image of greater solvency. Such competition also occurs in the eyes of supervisors, which often compare the ratios of different institutions. Consequently, while there may be flexible countercyclical buffer mechanisms that can be optimal at a collective level, competition creates incentives that undermine the coordinated use of those buffers17

These factors must be considered when designing the prudential framework. Otherwise, we could end up increasing capital levels without solving the root cause of the problem. In fact, during the months of the pandemic, the problem has not been the lack of capital, as supervisors and regulators have acknowledged18. The existing levels have been robust enough to cope with the shock whilst maintaining solvency and providing adequate credit to the economy.

It's precisely for this reason that it would be better for the authority, at its discretion, to decide to reduce requirements for all banks on a temporary basis. It would thereby act as a coordinator, resolving the problem of collective action. 

On the other hand, it should be noted that, unless countercyclical buffers are well designed, the mere expectation of greater capital requirements at low points in the economic cycle could have an adverse effect on lending. There is evidence in the economic literature that, while banks with higher levels of capital (stock) extend comparatively more credit19, banks whose capital requirements are increased (flow) tend to reduce their lending until they've reached the required levels20

It's important to remember these effects at a time when the capital requirements resulting from the Basel III reform are expected to increase significantly. This could be particularly detrimental given the current economic environment. On December 10th, the EBA published its most recent assessment and it estimates an increase in minimum capital requirements of around 15% over the coming eight years. Not a negligible amount. 

At the time of the introduction of the new Basel III capital requirements there was a lively debate between regulators and the industry. The industry was adamant that the new requirements were to be introduced very gradually, to make sure that the effect on credit extension was limited. This argument was quite often dismissed in official quarters as quantitatively irrelevant. Nevertheless, precisely the same argument has been used in 2020 for the regulatory relief of the capital buffers. In fact, according to research commissioned by the European Parliament21 for each 1% of capital relief in CET1, it is estimated that the increase of credit to the real economy amounts to 1,2%-1,5% over the coming 12 months. Not a negligible effect. 

B. Restrictions on dividend payments

In addition to these considerations we need to consider the costs for the industry of a blanket restriction on dividend distribution, which was approved by the supervisor in March and July this year and is subject to further review in the coming days. 

The supervisory authorities argue that these restrictions have been imposed with two objectives:

  • Ensure that banks retain enough capital to absorb losses and maintain their capacity to provide credit to the economy.
  • Avoid that the capital released because of the relaxation of the capital requirements is used to remunerate shareholders.

This measure has always been labelled as extraordinary and temporary22. At a time of maximum uncertainty, the generalised restriction could mitigate the stigma on those banks that may voluntarily opt for limits to shareholders payouts (see, for example, ECB23 and BIS-FSI24). 

However, as the ECB itself acknowledges, this measure is not without negative effects. And I agree. 

In my opinion, the negative effects of these restrictions on the sector are relevant and may become very significant if the restrictions are protracted. 

On the one hand, the restriction stigmatises the whole industry with respect to other industries which compete for funding in the stock market25. This makes access to capital markets even more costly, given the negative signal being sent to investors, an issue also recognised by the ESRB26 and ECB27

On the other hand, the restriction discriminates among banks, particularly those based in different jurisdictions. Blanket restrictions that are not based on an individualised analysis penalise the most solvent banks, with a negative effect on the overall sector's performance. 

Both effects are particularly undesirable in a context of structural challenges such as consolidation and the need to access capital markets to comply with resolution requirements. 

In fact, even if the measure is considered as exceptional, the mere fact that it has been established will make bank valuations and the cost of financing more expensive on a structural basis. 

I believe that, going forward, this approach should be reviewed. The supervisory framework is sufficiently robust. Formulas can be found that confine these restrictions to the specific situation of each bank, in line with the risk profile and the supervisor's assessment. Otherwise, not only are we penalising the industry across the board, but we are also weakening the supervisor's role in its overseeing function.

2. Crisis exit management and non-performing loans (NPLs)

The second topic I would like to focus on is the challenge that lies ahead with regards to managing the economic crisis provoked by the pandemic and the expected increase in NPLs. 

At a time of heightened uncertainty, public authorities have tried to strike a balance between strengthening the banking sector and providing the flexibility needed to stimulate and sustain lending. 

As the crisis evolves and uncertainty decreases, there is a growing incentive for authorities to focus on their micro-prudential role, concentrating primarily on bank solvency and less on the macroeconomic effects of the regulatory measures, with the potential risk of discouraging the extension of credit to the economy and, thus, slowing down the economic recovery. 

How can we strike a balance during this period of transition? 

Three factors seem relevant to me: i) how quickly the health-related uncertainty decreases and economic activity picks up, and the extent to which government support to households and businesses is maintained throughout; ii) the ability of banks to manage credit risk and adequately increase provisions; and iii) and, finally, the effect of the regulatory framework and market institutions in tackling the NPLs accumulating on bank balance sheets.

i) The reduction in uncertainty and the pace of recovery from the crisis will depend on how the pandemic evolves and the government's response to further waves of contagion. Should restrictions on economic activity be maintained, it will be necessary to prolong the measures that provide support to those sectors most affected by lockdowns.

  • This support must be withdrawn gradually so that viable businesses and households can generate liquidity as their activity returns to normal. When appropriate, funding should not be limited to new loan facilities but should include direct equity support, to prevent excessive leverage in those industries most affected.
  • The gradual withdrawal of support will maintain viable businesses afloat and prevent a sudden worsening of the quality of banks’ balance sheets. The withdrawal of support needs to be synchronised with the economic recovery. 

ii) The right amount of supervisory pressure will also depend on the extent to which banks apply prudent risk management and are able to provision adequately. 

  • In fact, despite government support, a significant number of companies are likely to be unable to meet their financial obligations. It should be possible to restructure and/or liquidate these companies. 
  • This might happen to companies with financial difficulties or others that simply have no future due to structural changes (for example, reorientation towards a more sustainable economy).
  • It is therefore essential to ensure that banks apply prudential principles when classifying borrowers and recognise and provision impaired asset portfolios. 
  • The problem lies in doing this efficiently. It is necessary, first, to differentiate between viable and non- viable companies. Second, viable projects must have access to financing or be able to restructure their financial obligations. 
  • And that's the challenge. The current regulatory framework for classifying NPLs, which is largely based on guidelines from the authorities, leaves little room for a differentiated response; exposures that require refinancing/restructuring will ultimately be classified most of the time as "non-performing".
  • This substantially reduces the incentive for banks to offer forbearance to borrowers that are considered viable in the medium term. In fact, the existing framework seems to be designed primarily to encourage the disposal of such exposures.

iii)  Which brings me to the last point to consider: the extent to which market conditions facilitate the sale of NPLs by banks.

  • The imminent review of the EC Action Plan to tackle the possible increase in NPLs is significant in this respect. The Plan includes initiatives that aim to encourage securitisation and improve transparency, as well as liquidation and insolvency procedures. It also proposes a network of asset management companies (AMCs or "bad banks") to help tackle NPLs.
  • The problem is that this framework was set up in response to the previous financial crisis. But there are significant differences between the previous crisis and the current one that must be considered. The assets that are expected to be most damaged by this crisis have very different characteristics from those in the previous crisis. In this crisis, NPLs are likely to be concentrated among SMEs, extremely heterogeneous and mostly without much valuable collateral. 
  • These types of assets may not fit very well with the bad banks used in the previous crisis. Nor it is clear what management advantages are offered by those institutions compared with the banks themselves, which are usually much better prepared to manage this type of asset. Relationship banking has a comparative advantage when dealing with this type of assets.

 In summary, we are faced with a problem of asymmetric information in a world of uncertainty. In an ideal world, with complete information and clarity regarding the developments in the pandemic and the economy, the actions to be taken would be clear. 

The supervisory authorities would force banks to book provisions for their exposure to non-viable companies and, in turn, they would encourage the refinancing of viable projects, not penalizing them in terms of provisions. In this way, credit provision would support the economic recovery and the viability of sustainable businesses, which in turn would benefit the financial health of the banks. 

But uncertainty and asymmetric information can create perverse incentives: i) businesses that are less likely to stay afloat will try to convince banks of their creditworthiness to access further financing; ii) and there will not be sufficient incentives for banks with excessive exposure to non-viable businesses or weak pre-provision profits to recognise the potential deterioration of their assets. 

We must be able to design efficient risk management and prudential mechanisms, based on reliable financial indicators, that can help us navigate such periods of uncertainty but without encouraging the maintenance of non-viable companies. I am afraid that our current framework for identifying and treating NPLs is way too rigid. 

As I said at the beginning, it's a question of striking a balance. An equilibrium that ensures that viable companies can still access the financing they need and, at the same time, guarantees the sustainability of the banking industry, thereby producing a virtuous circle that encourages economic recovery and reduces the risk of generating a new financial crisis.

3.  Conclusion

The banking industry has been able to provide the necessary response in the first phase of the crisis. It has been part of the solution, rather than a source of problems. 

The regulatory response has been quick and, to a large degree, quite effective. Nevertheless, it has also brought into the open some of the shortcomings of the new regulatory framework. Specifically, the accounting framework is excessively procyclical and the capital requirements framework lacks the flexibility to be used as a countercyclical tool in times of stress. 

Moreover, the use of blunt policy instruments such as industry-wide restrictions on dividend distribution, while understandable in times of extreme uncertainty, has important adverse effects, both for the  industry performance as well as for the credibility of the overall regulatory and supervisory framework. As such, it should be an instrument left for truly exceptional circumstances and lifted as soon as possible. 

Going forward, it is of the utmost importance that the authorities strike the right balance between ensuring that the banking industry is adequately prepared to tackle the expected increase in non-performing exposures and their continued role in the provision of financing to household and non-financial corporations. Whilst it is understandable that prudential regulators may wish to ensure that individual banks are sound and solvent, it is important to consider also the aggregate, systemic perspective. Erring on the side of excessive caution and provisioning may thwart the extension of credit to the economy and have a negative impact on the perception of the industry by capital markets. Ultimately it could undermine the role of the financial sector as a positive contributing factor to the economic recovery.

 

Speech held at the SUERF-EBF Conference on "Banks' funding & revenue prospects in the low for long era", on 11 December 2020.

I would like to thank the team at CaixaBank for their support when preparing this talk. Enric Ferna ndez, Montserrat Martí nez, Sandra Jo dar-Rosell and Tatiana M. Reyes provided very significant input.

2 Commonly known as the "quick fix" to the Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR).

3 Gual, J. and S. Jo dar-Rosell (2014) "La prociclicidad del sistema financiero tras las reformas", Documento de Economía "la Caixa" no. 27, January 2014. See also Repullo, R. and J. Saurina (2012) “The countercyclical capital buffer of Basel III: A critical Assessment” In CEPR: The Crisis Aftermath: New Regulatory Paradigms, London.

4 Ibid.

5 “ECB Banking Supervision provides further flexibility to banks in reaction to coronavirus”. ECB Press Release,  March 20, 2020.

 “Accounting implications of the COVID-19 outbreak on the calculation of expected credit losses in accordance with IFRS 9”. ESMA, March 25, 2020.

 “Statement on the application of the prudential framework regarding Default, Forbearance and IFRS9 in light of COVID-19 measures”. EBA, March 25, 2020.

 “IFRS 9 and covid-19”. IFRS, March 27, 2020.
 “IFRS 9 in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic”. Andrea Enria, letter to the significant banks, April 1, 2020.

 “FAQs on ECB supervisory measures in reaction to the coronavirus”. ECB, July 28, 2020.

6 Agreement to review the CRR (quick fix), European Parliament, June 19, 2020.

7 Gual and Jo dar-Rosell, ibid.

8 The capital conservation buffer (CCB), countercyclical capital buffer (CCyB) and systemic buffers. The CCB was introduced to ensure that banks have an additional layer of usable capital that can be drawn down when losses are incurred. The CCB was implemented in full as of 2019 and is set at 2.5% of total risk-weighted assets. The CCyB aims to protect the banking sector from periods of excess aggregate credit growth that have often been associated with the build-up of system-wide risks. Both the CCyB and the systemic buffer are determined at the country level.

9 “ECB Banking Supervision provides further flexibility to banks in reaction to coronavirus”. ECB Press release, March 20, 2020.

10 The total amount would correspond to P2G (90bn€), redistribution within P2R (30bn€) and the countercyclical buffer (20bn€).

11 “ECB publishes supervisory banking statistics for the second quarter of 2020”. ECB, October 6, 2020.
Introductory Statement". Andrea Enria speech at the virtual meeting of the European CFO Network organised by the UniCredit Group, June 12, 2020.

12 Behn, M., Rancoita, E., Rodriguez d'Acri, C. (2020), “Macroprudential capital buffers - objectives and usability”, ECB Macroprudential Bulletin, Issue 11, October 2020.

13 Berger, A.N. and C.H.S. Bouwman (2013), “How does capital affect bank performance during financial crises?”, Journal of Financial Economics, Vol. 109 (1), July 2013.

14 Andreeva,D., Bochmann, P., Couaillier, C. (2020), “Financial market pressure as an impediment to the usability of regulatory capital buffers”, ECB Macroprudential Bulletin, Issue 11, October 2020.

15 “If so, we should consider whether countercyclical, releasable buffers are superior at least in terms of usability on  rainy days. This can also call for a recalibration of the buffer structure, with a greater role for buffers that can be switched off by the authorities”. Campa, J. M. (2020) “The regulatory response to the Covid-19 crisis: a test for post GFC reforms”. Speech at the Italian Banking Association (ABI), September 21, 2020.

16 Behn, M., Rancoita, E., Rodriguez d'Acri, C. (2020), ibid.

17 “Importantly, for this benefit to materialise, it is necessary that the banking system collectively takes this positive externality into account in its lending behaviour. This may not necessarily be the case, as collective action problems may prevent individual banks from factoring the social benefits of the continued provision of key economic services into their private lending decisions.” Behn, M., Rancoita, E., Rodriguez d'Acri, C. (2020), ibid.

18 “The regulatory response to the Covid-19 crisis: a test for post GFC reforms”. Speech by JM Campa at the Italian Banking Association (ABI) on 21 September 2020.

19 “In a bank-level study with time and firm fixed effects, we have found that higher bank capital is associated with greater lending, and that the mechanism involved in this channel is the lower funding costs associated with better capitalised banks.” Gambacorta, L., Song Shin, H. (2016), “ Why bank capital matters for monetary policy”, BIS Working Papers No. 558, 2016.

20 “Second, in the year following an increase in capital requirements, banks, on average, cut (in descending order based  on point estimates) loan growth for commercial real estate, for other corporates and for household secured lending.”  Bridges, J., et al (2015), “The impact of capital requirements on bank lending”,  Bank of England Working Paper No. 486 , 2015.

21 See Matyunina, A. and S. Ongena (2020), “Has the relaxation of capital and liquidity buffers worked in practice?”, In-Depth Analysis requested by the ECON committe, European Parliament, October 29.

22ECB asks banks not to pay dividends until at least October 2020”, ECB, March 27, 2020.
 “EBA provides additional clarity on measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the EU banking sector”, EBA, March 31,2020.
 “Recommendation of the ESRB of 27 May 2020 on restriction of distributions during the COVID-19 pandemic (ESRB/2020/7)”, ESRB, May 27, 2020.

23 ECB comments on the proposed amendment to CRR2

24 Borio, C. and Restoy, F. (2020), "Reflections on regulatory responses to the Covid-19 pandemic”, FSI Briefs nº 1, BIS, April 2020.

25 While the cost of capital for the banking industry in the euro area has decreased between March and October 2020, the industry specific risk premium (beta) has increased by around 70 bp as a whole (see “Recent developments in the cost of bank equity in Europe”, Boletín Económico, 4/2020, Bank of Spain, September 23, 2020).

26 “Banning dividend payments may undermine the relationship between a bank and its investors. This could potentially restrict the bank’s future access to market funding. Capital instruments subject to the restrictions might become less attractive to investors, particularly compared with instruments of entities in jurisdictions that do not impose such restrictions. In turn, this could reduce the ability of the affected banks to raise additional capital, or it could increase their cost of capital“ ESRB (2020) “System-wide restraints on dividend payments, share buybacks and other pay-outs”, June 2020.

27 “I am well aware that healthy banks need to be attractive to potential investors, and I am also aware that a regular flow of dividends at euro area banks has been an important factor for equity investors, as profitability remains persistently low” (…) “I want to reiterate that this is an exceptional and temporary measure to deal with an exceptional and temporary situation". Enria, A. (2020) “The current crisis is a wake-up call”. Supervision Newsletter, May 2020.

]]>
This speech is divided into two parts. First, I would like to share some thoughts on the regulatory response to the Covid-19 crisis. My comments will concentrate on the Eurozone policy reaction and its effects on the performance of the banking industry. Afterwards, I will focus on the impending challenge of how to handle the consequences of the economic crisis on the quality of the balance sheets of banks.

1.The regulatory response to the Covid-19 crisis.

The economic effects of the restrictions on economic activity following the outbreak of the pandemic have been accompanied by an extraordinary response by policy makers.

We have seen unprecedented measures taken both in terms of fiscal and monetary policy. Fiscal policy has provided direct support to families and businesses as well as loan guarantees and debt moratoria implemented through the financial system. Monetary policy has provided liquidity support as well as enhanced credit facilities through interest rate policy and new exceptional measures of quantitative easing.

The extraordinary and coordinated policy response has encompassed banking regulators and supervisors. In a context of extreme uncertainty, this policy reaction was essential to ensure that banks continued to fulfil their role of providing credit and liquidity to the economy.

The degree of coordination between authorities has been remarkable. National and international regulators and supervisors have acted with a common goal: to promote financial stability and ensure that funding reaches those who need it the most.

Broadly speaking we have seen decisions providing regulatory relief to financial intermediaries, as well as measures restricting the distribution of dividends, in order to increase the availability of capital to absorb losses and support lending in the face of increased uncertainty.

In terms of regulatory relief, the micro-prudential supervisor (the SSM) has adopted decisions based on a macroprudential perspective, relaxing some of the capital requirements. The European Commission has also carried out a rapid review of the Capital Requirements Regulation2, anticipating the application of some elements that offered capital relief and facilitating the implementation of others over time (as with the introduction of the new accounting framework, IFRS 9).

Banks have also contributed, offering their own relief measures for debtors such as extending payment moratoria, granting pre-approved loans or advancing the payment of pensions and unemployment benefits.

All this has helped to preserve confidence and ensure credit and liquidity were extended to the economy at times of maximum need. Credit growth figures show that support has been unprecedented. For example, in Spain, France, Portugal and Italy, credit to non-financial corporations and individual entrepreneurs increased by rates above 7% year-on-year in October 2020, far above the pace registered before the pandemic.

I will review next both the regulatory relief decisions as well as the restrictions on dividends. The goal is to assess the extent to which these have been effective ways to help the banking system confront the challenges brought about by the pandemic.

A. Regulatory relief measures

The relief measures include those related to the recently-introduced accounting framework (IFRS9), as well as the decisions regarding the capital ratios that must be satisfied by banks. In both cases these measures bring us back to the old debate regarding the procyclicality3 of the banking regulatory framework and the need to counteract the undesired effects of this procyclicality.

IFRS 9

One clear example of procyclicality is IFRS9, the new accounting framework that has replaced the incurred loss model with the expected loss model as a way to estimate bank provisions. Under IFRS 9, bank provisions should be calculated based on an estimate of future losses rather than waiting until these losses have already materialised. 

At the time this standard was being developed,4 some people already warned that its main drawback could be its procyclicality, as it substantially increases the volume of provisions during economic downturns. 

Due to the outbreak of the pandemic and the sudden change in economic forecasts, this risk has materialized. This has forced the major accounting and prudential authorities to make the most of all the flexibility offered by IFRS95 in its application, using alternative macro scenarios to smooth out the effect of the abrupt changes resulting from COVID until more information on the magnitude of the current shock becomes available. The implementation of IFRS9, carried out in phases over several years, has also been postponed by the European Commission6 to provide banks some temporary relief. 

Ideally, we would like to have a system that builds a provision cushion in good times, not one that requires a huge and sudden effort in times of distress. This was emphasized years ago among others by economists at the Bank of Spain, which had a system of this kind (dynamic provisioning). 

Capital ratios

The procyclicality of the regulatory framework was known also to be important in the capital regulation of banks7

In theory, banks accumulate capital to be able to handle unexpected losses (and therefore not covered by provisions). Beyond the minimum capital requirements, which follow mainly a micro-prudential approach, banks also accumulate capital buffers8, which are macro-prudential to some extent, to ensure the stability of the financial system as a whole. 

In response to the crisis and given the fear that uncertainty could reduce the provision of credit to the economy supervisory authorities such as the ECB have encouraged banks to make use of these capital buffers. However, they have been used by less than expected. 

The supervisor estimated that capital relief measures would free up around 140 billion euros9 of CET1 capital to preserve the banks' ability to absorb losses and to provide credit to the economy10. However, according to the supervisor's own data for the second quarter of 2020, the banking sector's capital ratios remained at the same level as year-end 201911

Several factors have been proposed to explain the reluctance to use capital buffers.

  • On the one hand, there are three regulatory aspects in the current framework that limit the buffer usability:
    • First, restrictions on the remuneration of equity instruments (shares and AT1 instruments) when operating below the combined buffer (MDA limits) and the small relative weight of counter-cyclical components. In fact, the countercyclical capital buffer, which is the only one specifically designed to be released at low points in the cycle, accounted for just 0.1% of risk-weighted assets in the euro area at the start of the pandemic and had not been activated in most EU jurisdictions12. The capital conservation buffer, on the other hand, is set by law at 2.5% and its use would automatically trigger MDA restrictions.
    • Second, uncertainty regarding the timeline for rebuilding buffers.
    • Finally, we should not forget that there are other regulatory/prudential requirements that are not as risk- based (such as the leverage ratio and resolution requirements) that could also be binding, at least temporarily. 
  • On the other hand, the role played by market pressure to avoid the erosion of capital buffers should not be underestimated: i) when information is incomplete, the payment of dividends is seen as a signal to the market that a business is profitable, with the result that this capacity to pay out dividends tends to be maintained; ii) banks' preference for maintaining high levels of capital to be able to take advantage of potential M&A opportunities that may arise at times of crisis13, and (iii) the potential increase in funding costs (or discounts on equity prices relative to book value) resulting from a decrease in capital levels14.

It is estimated that out of the 140 bn€ of freed up capital due to the regulatory relief measures, possibly around 1/3 has been used by the industry during the first half of the year. This would correspond to those that can be employed more flexibly, and in particular the coverage of P2R with non-CET1 instruments, as well as the countercyclical buffer. Banks, for the reasons explained, have been on the whole reluctant to diminish the management buffer. It must be remembered, at the same time, that over this period some regulatory activities revising the quality of banks’ models has continued, often times involving higher levels of capital requirements (for example, the TRIM exercise). 

Some regulatory and supervisory forums have already started to discuss the possibility of revising the current framework and its future design. One of the possible solutions is to recalibrate the relative weight of cyclical and structural buffers15

These proposals seem to be heading in the right direction but there is a risk they will end up not being effective and will merely result in another generalized increase in capital requirements for the sector as a whole. 

Let me explain. Irrespectively of the final design of the capital buffer structure, there is still a risk that the desired objectives will not be achieved unless the framework leads to a coordinated and similar use of buffers among banks16. As banks interact in a global market, where they compete to raise funds, competitive pressure creates the incentive to stand out from the rest and maintain relatively high capital ratios that convey an image of greater solvency. Such competition also occurs in the eyes of supervisors, which often compare the ratios of different institutions. Consequently, while there may be flexible countercyclical buffer mechanisms that can be optimal at a collective level, competition creates incentives that undermine the coordinated use of those buffers17

These factors must be considered when designing the prudential framework. Otherwise, we could end up increasing capital levels without solving the root cause of the problem. In fact, during the months of the pandemic, the problem has not been the lack of capital, as supervisors and regulators have acknowledged18. The existing levels have been robust enough to cope with the shock whilst maintaining solvency and providing adequate credit to the economy.

It's precisely for this reason that it would be better for the authority, at its discretion, to decide to reduce requirements for all banks on a temporary basis. It would thereby act as a coordinator, resolving the problem of collective action. 

On the other hand, it should be noted that, unless countercyclical buffers are well designed, the mere expectation of greater capital requirements at low points in the economic cycle could have an adverse effect on lending. There is evidence in the economic literature that, while banks with higher levels of capital (stock) extend comparatively more credit19, banks whose capital requirements are increased (flow) tend to reduce their lending until they've reached the required levels20

It's important to remember these effects at a time when the capital requirements resulting from the Basel III reform are expected to increase significantly. This could be particularly detrimental given the current economic environment. On December 10th, the EBA published its most recent assessment and it estimates an increase in minimum capital requirements of around 15% over the coming eight years. Not a negligible amount. 

At the time of the introduction of the new Basel III capital requirements there was a lively debate between regulators and the industry. The industry was adamant that the new requirements were to be introduced very gradually, to make sure that the effect on credit extension was limited. This argument was quite often dismissed in official quarters as quantitatively irrelevant. Nevertheless, precisely the same argument has been used in 2020 for the regulatory relief of the capital buffers. In fact, according to research commissioned by the European Parliament21 for each 1% of capital relief in CET1, it is estimated that the increase of credit to the real economy amounts to 1,2%-1,5% over the coming 12 months. Not a negligible effect. 

B. Restrictions on dividend payments

In addition to these considerations we need to consider the costs for the industry of a blanket restriction on dividend distribution, which was approved by the supervisor in March and July this year and is subject to further review in the coming days. 

The supervisory authorities argue that these restrictions have been imposed with two objectives:

  • Ensure that banks retain enough capital to absorb losses and maintain their capacity to provide credit to the economy.
  • Avoid that the capital released because of the relaxation of the capital requirements is used to remunerate shareholders.

This measure has always been labelled as extraordinary and temporary22. At a time of maximum uncertainty, the generalised restriction could mitigate the stigma on those banks that may voluntarily opt for limits to shareholders payouts (see, for example, ECB23 and BIS-FSI24). 

However, as the ECB itself acknowledges, this measure is not without negative effects. And I agree. 

In my opinion, the negative effects of these restrictions on the sector are relevant and may become very significant if the restrictions are protracted. 

On the one hand, the restriction stigmatises the whole industry with respect to other industries which compete for funding in the stock market25. This makes access to capital markets even more costly, given the negative signal being sent to investors, an issue also recognised by the ESRB26 and ECB27

On the other hand, the restriction discriminates among banks, particularly those based in different jurisdictions. Blanket restrictions that are not based on an individualised analysis penalise the most solvent banks, with a negative effect on the overall sector's performance. 

Both effects are particularly undesirable in a context of structural challenges such as consolidation and the need to access capital markets to comply with resolution requirements. 

In fact, even if the measure is considered as exceptional, the mere fact that it has been established will make bank valuations and the cost of financing more expensive on a structural basis. 

I believe that, going forward, this approach should be reviewed. The supervisory framework is sufficiently robust. Formulas can be found that confine these restrictions to the specific situation of each bank, in line with the risk profile and the supervisor's assessment. Otherwise, not only are we penalising the industry across the board, but we are also weakening the supervisor's role in its overseeing function.

2. Crisis exit management and non-performing loans (NPLs)

The second topic I would like to focus on is the challenge that lies ahead with regards to managing the economic crisis provoked by the pandemic and the expected increase in NPLs. 

At a time of heightened uncertainty, public authorities have tried to strike a balance between strengthening the banking sector and providing the flexibility needed to stimulate and sustain lending. 

As the crisis evolves and uncertainty decreases, there is a growing incentive for authorities to focus on their micro-prudential role, concentrating primarily on bank solvency and less on the macroeconomic effects of the regulatory measures, with the potential risk of discouraging the extension of credit to the economy and, thus, slowing down the economic recovery. 

How can we strike a balance during this period of transition? 

Three factors seem relevant to me: i) how quickly the health-related uncertainty decreases and economic activity picks up, and the extent to which government support to households and businesses is maintained throughout; ii) the ability of banks to manage credit risk and adequately increase provisions; and iii) and, finally, the effect of the regulatory framework and market institutions in tackling the NPLs accumulating on bank balance sheets.

i) The reduction in uncertainty and the pace of recovery from the crisis will depend on how the pandemic evolves and the government's response to further waves of contagion. Should restrictions on economic activity be maintained, it will be necessary to prolong the measures that provide support to those sectors most affected by lockdowns.

  • This support must be withdrawn gradually so that viable businesses and households can generate liquidity as their activity returns to normal. When appropriate, funding should not be limited to new loan facilities but should include direct equity support, to prevent excessive leverage in those industries most affected.
  • The gradual withdrawal of support will maintain viable businesses afloat and prevent a sudden worsening of the quality of banks’ balance sheets. The withdrawal of support needs to be synchronised with the economic recovery. 

ii) The right amount of supervisory pressure will also depend on the extent to which banks apply prudent risk management and are able to provision adequately. 

  • In fact, despite government support, a significant number of companies are likely to be unable to meet their financial obligations. It should be possible to restructure and/or liquidate these companies. 
  • This might happen to companies with financial difficulties or others that simply have no future due to structural changes (for example, reorientation towards a more sustainable economy).
  • It is therefore essential to ensure that banks apply prudential principles when classifying borrowers and recognise and provision impaired asset portfolios. 
  • The problem lies in doing this efficiently. It is necessary, first, to differentiate between viable and non- viable companies. Second, viable projects must have access to financing or be able to restructure their financial obligations. 
  • And that's the challenge. The current regulatory framework for classifying NPLs, which is largely based on guidelines from the authorities, leaves little room for a differentiated response; exposures that require refinancing/restructuring will ultimately be classified most of the time as "non-performing".
  • This substantially reduces the incentive for banks to offer forbearance to borrowers that are considered viable in the medium term. In fact, the existing framework seems to be designed primarily to encourage the disposal of such exposures.

iii)  Which brings me to the last point to consider: the extent to which market conditions facilitate the sale of NPLs by banks.

  • The imminent review of the EC Action Plan to tackle the possible increase in NPLs is significant in this respect. The Plan includes initiatives that aim to encourage securitisation and improve transparency, as well as liquidation and insolvency procedures. It also proposes a network of asset management companies (AMCs or "bad banks") to help tackle NPLs.
  • The problem is that this framework was set up in response to the previous financial crisis. But there are significant differences between the previous crisis and the current one that must be considered. The assets that are expected to be most damaged by this crisis have very different characteristics from those in the previous crisis. In this crisis, NPLs are likely to be concentrated among SMEs, extremely heterogeneous and mostly without much valuable collateral. 
  • These types of assets may not fit very well with the bad banks used in the previous crisis. Nor it is clear what management advantages are offered by those institutions compared with the banks themselves, which are usually much better prepared to manage this type of asset. Relationship banking has a comparative advantage when dealing with this type of assets.

 In summary, we are faced with a problem of asymmetric information in a world of uncertainty. In an ideal world, with complete information and clarity regarding the developments in the pandemic and the economy, the actions to be taken would be clear. 

The supervisory authorities would force banks to book provisions for their exposure to non-viable companies and, in turn, they would encourage the refinancing of viable projects, not penalizing them in terms of provisions. In this way, credit provision would support the economic recovery and the viability of sustainable businesses, which in turn would benefit the financial health of the banks. 

But uncertainty and asymmetric information can create perverse incentives: i) businesses that are less likely to stay afloat will try to convince banks of their creditworthiness to access further financing; ii) and there will not be sufficient incentives for banks with excessive exposure to non-viable businesses or weak pre-provision profits to recognise the potential deterioration of their assets. 

We must be able to design efficient risk management and prudential mechanisms, based on reliable financial indicators, that can help us navigate such periods of uncertainty but without encouraging the maintenance of non-viable companies. I am afraid that our current framework for identifying and treating NPLs is way too rigid. 

As I said at the beginning, it's a question of striking a balance. An equilibrium that ensures that viable companies can still access the financing they need and, at the same time, guarantees the sustainability of the banking industry, thereby producing a virtuous circle that encourages economic recovery and reduces the risk of generating a new financial crisis.

3.  Conclusion

The banking industry has been able to provide the necessary response in the first phase of the crisis. It has been part of the solution, rather than a source of problems. 

The regulatory response has been quick and, to a large degree, quite effective. Nevertheless, it has also brought into the open some of the shortcomings of the new regulatory framework. Specifically, the accounting framework is excessively procyclical and the capital requirements framework lacks the flexibility to be used as a countercyclical tool in times of stress. 

Moreover, the use of blunt policy instruments such as industry-wide restrictions on dividend distribution, while understandable in times of extreme uncertainty, has important adverse effects, both for the  industry performance as well as for the credibility of the overall regulatory and supervisory framework. As such, it should be an instrument left for truly exceptional circumstances and lifted as soon as possible. 

Going forward, it is of the utmost importance that the authorities strike the right balance between ensuring that the banking industry is adequately prepared to tackle the expected increase in non-performing exposures and their continued role in the provision of financing to household and non-financial corporations. Whilst it is understandable that prudential regulators may wish to ensure that individual banks are sound and solvent, it is important to consider also the aggregate, systemic perspective. Erring on the side of excessive caution and provisioning may thwart the extension of credit to the economy and have a negative impact on the perception of the industry by capital markets. Ultimately it could undermine the role of the financial sector as a positive contributing factor to the economic recovery.

 

Speech held at the SUERF-EBF Conference on "Banks' funding & revenue prospects in the low for long era", on 11 December 2020.

I would like to thank the team at CaixaBank for their support when preparing this talk. Enric Ferna ndez, Montserrat Martí nez, Sandra Jo dar-Rosell and Tatiana M. Reyes provided very significant input.

2 Commonly known as the "quick fix" to the Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR).

3 Gual, J. and S. Jo dar-Rosell (2014) "La prociclicidad del sistema financiero tras las reformas", Documento de Economía "la Caixa" no. 27, January 2014. See also Repullo, R. and J. Saurina (2012) “The countercyclical capital buffer of Basel III: A critical Assessment” In CEPR: The Crisis Aftermath: New Regulatory Paradigms, London.

4 Ibid.

5 “ECB Banking Supervision provides further flexibility to banks in reaction to coronavirus”. ECB Press Release,  March 20, 2020.

 “Accounting implications of the COVID-19 outbreak on the calculation of expected credit losses in accordance with IFRS 9”. ESMA, March 25, 2020.

 “Statement on the application of the prudential framework regarding Default, Forbearance and IFRS9 in light of COVID-19 measures”. EBA, March 25, 2020.

 “IFRS 9 and covid-19”. IFRS, March 27, 2020.
 “IFRS 9 in the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic”. Andrea Enria, letter to the significant banks, April 1, 2020.

 “FAQs on ECB supervisory measures in reaction to the coronavirus”. ECB, July 28, 2020.

6 Agreement to review the CRR (quick fix), European Parliament, June 19, 2020.

7 Gual and Jo dar-Rosell, ibid.

8 The capital conservation buffer (CCB), countercyclical capital buffer (CCyB) and systemic buffers. The CCB was introduced to ensure that banks have an additional layer of usable capital that can be drawn down when losses are incurred. The CCB was implemented in full as of 2019 and is set at 2.5% of total risk-weighted assets. The CCyB aims to protect the banking sector from periods of excess aggregate credit growth that have often been associated with the build-up of system-wide risks. Both the CCyB and the systemic buffer are determined at the country level.

9 “ECB Banking Supervision provides further flexibility to banks in reaction to coronavirus”. ECB Press release, March 20, 2020.

10 The total amount would correspond to P2G (90bn€), redistribution within P2R (30bn€) and the countercyclical buffer (20bn€).

11 “ECB publishes supervisory banking statistics for the second quarter of 2020”. ECB, October 6, 2020.
Introductory Statement". Andrea Enria speech at the virtual meeting of the European CFO Network organised by the UniCredit Group, June 12, 2020.

12 Behn, M., Rancoita, E., Rodriguez d'Acri, C. (2020), “Macroprudential capital buffers - objectives and usability”, ECB Macroprudential Bulletin, Issue 11, October 2020.

13 Berger, A.N. and C.H.S. Bouwman (2013), “How does capital affect bank performance during financial crises?”, Journal of Financial Economics, Vol. 109 (1), July 2013.

14 Andreeva,D., Bochmann, P., Couaillier, C. (2020), “Financial market pressure as an impediment to the usability of regulatory capital buffers”, ECB Macroprudential Bulletin, Issue 11, October 2020.

15 “If so, we should consider whether countercyclical, releasable buffers are superior at least in terms of usability on  rainy days. This can also call for a recalibration of the buffer structure, with a greater role for buffers that can be switched off by the authorities”. Campa, J. M. (2020) “The regulatory response to the Covid-19 crisis: a test for post GFC reforms”. Speech at the Italian Banking Association (ABI), September 21, 2020.

16 Behn, M., Rancoita, E., Rodriguez d'Acri, C. (2020), ibid.

17 “Importantly, for this benefit to materialise, it is necessary that the banking system collectively takes this positive externality into account in its lending behaviour. This may not necessarily be the case, as collective action problems may prevent individual banks from factoring the social benefits of the continued provision of key economic services into their private lending decisions.” Behn, M., Rancoita, E., Rodriguez d'Acri, C. (2020), ibid.

18 “The regulatory response to the Covid-19 crisis: a test for post GFC reforms”. Speech by JM Campa at the Italian Banking Association (ABI) on 21 September 2020.

19 “In a bank-level study with time and firm fixed effects, we have found that higher bank capital is associated with greater lending, and that the mechanism involved in this channel is the lower funding costs associated with better capitalised banks.” Gambacorta, L., Song Shin, H. (2016), “ Why bank capital matters for monetary policy”, BIS Working Papers No. 558, 2016.

20 “Second, in the year following an increase in capital requirements, banks, on average, cut (in descending order based  on point estimates) loan growth for commercial real estate, for other corporates and for household secured lending.”  Bridges, J., et al (2015), “The impact of capital requirements on bank lending”,  Bank of England Working Paper No. 486 , 2015.

21 See Matyunina, A. and S. Ongena (2020), “Has the relaxation of capital and liquidity buffers worked in practice?”, In-Depth Analysis requested by the ECON committe, European Parliament, October 29.

22ECB asks banks not to pay dividends until at least October 2020”, ECB, March 27, 2020.
 “EBA provides additional clarity on measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the EU banking sector”, EBA, March 31,2020.
 “Recommendation of the ESRB of 27 May 2020 on restriction of distributions during the COVID-19 pandemic (ESRB/2020/7)”, ESRB, May 27, 2020.

23 ECB comments on the proposed amendment to CRR2

24 Borio, C. and Restoy, F. (2020), "Reflections on regulatory responses to the Covid-19 pandemic”, FSI Briefs nº 1, BIS, April 2020.

25 While the cost of capital for the banking industry in the euro area has decreased between March and October 2020, the industry specific risk premium (beta) has increased by around 70 bp as a whole (see “Recent developments in the cost of bank equity in Europe”, Boletín Económico, 4/2020, Bank of Spain, September 23, 2020).

26 “Banning dividend payments may undermine the relationship between a bank and its investors. This could potentially restrict the bank’s future access to market funding. Capital instruments subject to the restrictions might become less attractive to investors, particularly compared with instruments of entities in jurisdictions that do not impose such restrictions. In turn, this could reduce the ability of the affected banks to raise additional capital, or it could increase their cost of capital“ ESRB (2020) “System-wide restraints on dividend payments, share buybacks and other pay-outs”, June 2020.

27 “I am well aware that healthy banks need to be attractive to potential investors, and I am also aware that a regular flow of dividends at euro area banks has been an important factor for equity investors, as profitability remains persistently low” (…) “I want to reiterate that this is an exceptional and temporary measure to deal with an exceptional and temporary situation". Enria, A. (2020) “The current crisis is a wake-up call”. Supervision Newsletter, May 2020.

]]>
0
<![CDATA[CaixaBank strengthens its leadership in digital banking, reaching a market share of 32.8% in the use of web and mobile channels]]> https://blog.caixabank.es/?p=23645 2021-01-04T00:00:00.0Z 2021-01-04T00:00:00.0Z <![CDATA[CaixaBank strengthens its leadership in digital banking, reaching a market share of 32.8% in the use of web and mobile channels]]>
CaixaBank, Spain’s leading retail bank, has reached a market share in digital banking of 32.8% in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the latest data published by Comscore on the number of users in Spain that access the web and mobile channels of financial institutions. This figure implies a growth of 40 basis points over the previous quarter, which stood at 32.4%, enabling the entity, chaired by Jordi Gual and directed by Gonzalo Gortázar, to strengthen its leadership in terms of digital customers.

In particular, in terms of channels, CaixaBank has consolidated its position as leader in mobile banking with a market share of 30.8%, the best result of the year. This growth in market share also coincides with a significant increase in the number of users of its mobile apps: at the end of September, the bank had registered 6.28 million mobile customers, translating into a 13.7% growth over the same month from the previous year. 

Regarding the evolution of web users, according to Comscore data, CaixaBank remains leader in the sector with a stable evolution. Its current market share of 28.7% is very similar to the figure recorded during 2019.

In both the web and mobile service channels, CaixaBank remains far ahead of other entities at a distance of seven percentage points ahead of the next entity in the national ranking. 

CaixaBank, leader in innovation

Offering the best user experience across all physical and online customer service channels is one of the pillars of CaixaBank's 2019-2021 Strategic Plan. Currently, the company has the largest customer base in Spain with a total of over 7 million users across all digital service channels.

Thanks to its digital transformation strategy, the company has been ranked among the best banks in the world for the quality of its digital products and services, receiving accolades such as “World's Best Consumer Bank 2020” and “Best Bank in Spain 2020” from North-American magazine Global Finance. These awards are in addition to those obtained in the digital banking sphere, such as “Best digital bank in consumer banking in Spain 2020”, and in the private banking sphere, in which CaixaBank has been named “Best Private Bank in Europe for its digital culture and vision 2020”.

In addition, the CaixaBankNow app has been ranked by Global Finance as the “Best Consumer Mobile Banking App in Western Europe” for the third year running. The app incorporates innovative services such as Neo, CaixaBank's virtual assistant that uses artificial intelligence to respond to any questions that customers may have and provides access to detailed information about their finances. Neo is also available on Google Home and Amazon Alexa, enabling the bank's customers to use their voice to interact with the virtual assistant.

Last year, more than 1.7 million customers used Neo, which was recognised at the EFMA Global Awards 2019 in the Artificial Intelligence category and The Innovators Awards 2020 (Global Finance) in the Personal Finance category.

]]>

CaixaBank, Spain’s leading retail bank, has reached a market share in digital banking of 32.8% in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the latest data published by Comscore on the number of users in Spain that access the web and mobile channels of financial institutions. This figure implies a growth of 40 basis points over the previous quarter, which stood at 32.4%, enabling the entity, chaired by Jordi Gual and directed by Gonzalo Gortázar, to strengthen its leadership in terms of digital customers.

In particular, in terms of channels, CaixaBank has consolidated its position as leader in mobile banking with a market share of 30.8%, the best result of the year. This growth in market share also coincides with a significant increase in the number of users of its mobile apps: at the end of September, the bank had registered 6.28 million mobile customers, translating into a 13.7% growth over the same month from the previous year. 

Regarding the evolution of web users, according to Comscore data, CaixaBank remains leader in the sector with a stable evolution. Its current market share of 28.7% is very similar to the figure recorded during 2019.

In both the web and mobile service channels, CaixaBank remains far ahead of other entities at a distance of seven percentage points ahead of the next entity in the national ranking. 

CaixaBank, leader in innovation

Offering the best user experience across all physical and online customer service channels is one of the pillars of CaixaBank's 2019-2021 Strategic Plan. Currently, the company has the largest customer base in Spain with a total of over 7 million users across all digital service channels.

Thanks to its digital transformation strategy, the company has been ranked among the best banks in the world for the quality of its digital products and services, receiving accolades such as “World's Best Consumer Bank 2020” and “Best Bank in Spain 2020” from North-American magazine Global Finance. These awards are in addition to those obtained in the digital banking sphere, such as “Best digital bank in consumer banking in Spain 2020”, and in the private banking sphere, in which CaixaBank has been named “Best Private Bank in Europe for its digital culture and vision 2020”.

In addition, the CaixaBankNow app has been ranked by Global Finance as the “Best Consumer Mobile Banking App in Western Europe” for the third year running. The app incorporates innovative services such as Neo, CaixaBank's virtual assistant that uses artificial intelligence to respond to any questions that customers may have and provides access to detailed information about their finances. Neo is also available on Google Home and Amazon Alexa, enabling the bank's customers to use their voice to interact with the virtual assistant.

Last year, more than 1.7 million customers used Neo, which was recognised at the EFMA Global Awards 2019 in the Artificial Intelligence category and The Innovators Awards 2020 (Global Finance) in the Personal Finance category.

]]>
0
<![CDATA[CaixaBank, recognised by Global Finance for its leadership in response to the COVID-19 crisis]]> https://blog.caixabank.es/?p=23645 2020-12-30T00:00:00.0Z 2020-12-30T00:00:00.0Z <![CDATA[CaixaBank, recognised by Global Finance for its leadership in response to the COVID-19 crisis]]>
CaixaBank, the bank chaired by Jordi Gual and managed by Gonzalo Gortázar, has been named a leading global bank in responding to the 2020 crisis by US magazine Global Finance. The newly created 'Outstanding Crisis Leadership' awards recognise banks and companies that have demonstrated corporate and social leadership during the crisis of the coronavirus pandemic, with measures set up to help customers, protect their employees and drive economic and social recovery. 

A jury formed of three independent consultants and the editor of the magazine selected the winners, taking into account the size of financial aids, the extent and social impact of the measures adopted and the health and economic situation of different territories, among others aspects. CaixaBank stands out as the only European company in the group of winners of the global category.

This recognition is additional to the award of 'Excellence in leadership in Western Europe 2020' by Euromoney magazine, presented to CaixaBank for its social commitment in its response to the COVID-19 crisis. 

CaixaBank's support measures to reactivate the economy

CaixaBank has remained fully operational since mid-March as a supplier of essential services and has remained firmly committed to society and its customers thanks to the dedication of the Group's more than 35,000 employees. The Bank has continued to lend to businesses and individuals, and continues to support those sectors most affected by the pandemic.

Through its #ByYourSideNowMoreThanEver campaign, it implemented measures from March onwards focused on individual customers and across society, with a view to reactivating the economy. Here are some of the measures:

  • The institution made the largest network of ATMs in Spain, with around 9,000 terminals, available to customers, and kept more than 90% of its network of 4,000 branches open throughout. In addition, the bank has been operating in 97% of more than 2,000 cities, towns and villages.
  • CaixaBank has made early pension payments, unemployment benefits and temporary unemployment payments to 3.6 million customers, and established a plan to give priority assistance to elderly customers in branches.
  • Since the beginning of the crisis and until 30th September, CaixaBank has approved more than 383,000 moratorium applications for mortgages and personal loans, affecting a portfolio of €11 billion, 5% of the institution's total credit portfolio.
  • Since the start of the state of emergency, it has granted €51.53 billion to the business sector, aside from ICO lines, aimed at facilitating the financing of large enterprises, SMEs, the self-employed and entrepreneurs. Furthermore, since ICO COVID-19 funding lines started and until 30th September, CaixaBank has managed more than 188,000 loan applications for a total amount of €15.07 billion. Of the total amount disbursed, 76% was granted to self-employed workers and SMEs.
  • The institution recorded a 18% increase of its business credit portfolio in the first nine months of the year, and issued a COVID-19 social bond of €1 billion to finance SMEs and micro-enterprises in the most disadvantaged areas of Spain.
  • CaixaBank has improved the CaixaBankNow online banking service, available in web format or through the mobile application, which allows customers to carry out practically all their banking without having to visit a branch.
  • CaixaBank has cancelled rent on its residential properties for 4,800 families.
  • VidaCaixa and SegurCaixa Adeslas have channelled more than €8.5 millioninto a new solidarity fund to insure health care workers (700,000 people) at no cost to them.
  • Together with the "la Caixa" Foundation, the Bank has launched, the “No home without food” solidarity campaign as an exceptional response to the social emergency resulting from the current social and health crisis, raising €3.3 million.

All of this has been possible thanks to CaixaBank's leadership in retail banking in Spain, where it is the main bank for one out of every four customers. Furthermore, CaixaBank is the leading institution in digital banking, with 7 million digital customers, thanks to its firm commitment to digital transformation and new technologies, with a view to offering the best customer service in any place and through any channel.

]]>

CaixaBank, the bank chaired by Jordi Gual and managed by Gonzalo Gortázar, has been named a leading global bank in responding to the 2020 crisis by US magazine Global Finance. The newly created 'Outstanding Crisis Leadership' awards recognise banks and companies that have demonstrated corporate and social leadership during the crisis of the coronavirus pandemic, with measures set up to help customers, protect their employees and drive economic and social recovery. 

A jury formed of three independent consultants and the editor of the magazine selected the winners, taking into account the size of financial aids, the extent and social impact of the measures adopted and the health and economic situation of different territories, among others aspects. CaixaBank stands out as the only European company in the group of winners of the global category.

This recognition is additional to the award of 'Excellence in leadership in Western Europe 2020' by Euromoney magazine, presented to CaixaBank for its social commitment in its response to the COVID-19 crisis. 

CaixaBank's support measures to reactivate the economy

CaixaBank has remained fully operational since mid-March as a supplier of essential services and has remained firmly committed to society and its customers thanks to the dedication of the Group's more than 35,000 employees. The Bank has continued to lend to businesses and individuals, and continues to support those sectors most affected by the pandemic.

Through its #ByYourSideNowMoreThanEver campaign, it implemented measures from March onwards focused on individual customers and across society, with a view to reactivating the economy. Here are some of the measures:

  • The institution made the largest network of ATMs in Spain, with around 9,000 terminals, available to customers, and kept more than 90% of its network of 4,000 branches open throughout. In addition, the bank has been operating in 97% of more than 2,000 cities, towns and villages.
  • CaixaBank has made early pension payments, unemployment benefits and temporary unemployment payments to 3.6 million customers, and established a plan to give priority assistance to elderly customers in branches.
  • Since the beginning of the crisis and until 30th September, CaixaBank has approved more than 383,000 moratorium applications for mortgages and personal loans, affecting a portfolio of €11 billion, 5% of the institution's total credit portfolio.
  • Since the start of the state of emergency, it has granted €51.53 billion to the business sector, aside from ICO lines, aimed at facilitating the financing of large enterprises, SMEs, the self-employed and entrepreneurs. Furthermore, since ICO COVID-19 funding lines started and until 30th September, CaixaBank has managed more than 188,000 loan applications for a total amount of €15.07 billion. Of the total amount disbursed, 76% was granted to self-employed workers and SMEs.
  • The institution recorded a 18% increase of its business credit portfolio in the first nine months of the year, and issued a COVID-19 social bond of €1 billion to finance SMEs and micro-enterprises in the most disadvantaged areas of Spain.
  • CaixaBank has improved the CaixaBankNow online banking service, available in web format or through the mobile application, which allows customers to carry out practically all their banking without having to visit a branch.
  • CaixaBank has cancelled rent on its residential properties for 4,800 families.
  • VidaCaixa and SegurCaixa Adeslas have channelled more than €8.5 millioninto a new solidarity fund to insure health care workers (700,000 people) at no cost to them.
  • Together with the "la Caixa" Foundation, the Bank has launched, the “No home without food” solidarity campaign as an exceptional response to the social emergency resulting from the current social and health crisis, raising €3.3 million.

All of this has been possible thanks to CaixaBank's leadership in retail banking in Spain, where it is the main bank for one out of every four customers. Furthermore, CaixaBank is the leading institution in digital banking, with 7 million digital customers, thanks to its firm commitment to digital transformation and new technologies, with a view to offering the best customer service in any place and through any channel.

]]>
0
<![CDATA[CaixaBank marks 20 years in Italy with a 26% market share of guarantees and letters of credit between Spanish and Italian banks]]> https://blog.caixabank.es/?p=23645 2020-12-29T00:00:00.0Z 2020-12-29T00:00:00.0Z <![CDATA[CaixaBank marks 20 years in Italy with a 26% market share of guarantees and letters of credit between Spanish and Italian banks]]>
This year marks CaixaBank’s presence in Italy of two decades. Since opening its representative branch in Milan in 2000, the entity has become established as a benchmark bank for Spanish companies in Italy, and for Italian companies with interests in Spain.

The representative branch in Italy, comprising a team of four people, offers support in foreign trade, and business and corporate banking services to its customers with interests in Spain and Italy.

In the field of trade finance, CaixaBank has a 26% market share in Italy, which means that more than 1 out of every 4 guarantees and letters of credit that are issued to/from Spanish banks to/from Italian banks, are carried out through CaixaBank.

As regards the corporate sphere, the branch represents CaixaBank in the dealings with the main local companies and financial institutions, relaying companies' needs to the relevant teams in Spain. It also has a person dedicated to Italian banks' coverage in collaboration with the International Financial Institutions (IFI) team.

In its two decades in Italy, CaixaBank has also worked to foster business relationships between the two countries, through partnerships with institutions such as the ICEX and the Spanish Embassy in the country. CaixaBank is also a member of the governing board of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Italy.

Italy, a key customer for Spain

Italy is one of the countries offering major opportunities to Spanish companies as a result of its long-standing history of investment relationships with Spain. With 78 points in the CIBI (CaixaBank index for Business Internationalisation) in 2019, Italy ranks seventh in the world, along with Switzerland.

In 2019, Spanish exports to Italy amounted to over €23.2 billion euros, according to ICEX data, an increase of 2.1% on the previous year. Some of Spain's exports to Italy include automotive industry products, fuels and lubricants, female clothing products, olive oil, plastic raw materials and semi-processed products.

Furthermore, Spanish imports from Italy reached a total of €20.56 billion euros in 2019. Some of Italy's exports to Spain include automotive industry equipment, components and accessories, fuels and lubricants, and cars. 

CaixaBank's international presence 

The Milan branch is one of the first representative branches opened by CaixaBank abroad, in a global network that operates today through operational branches in 5 countries, and 18 representative branches. 

The entity maintains its international presence through its operational branches, representative branches and cooperation agreements with international banks. Currently, CaixaBank has branches in the United Kingdom (London), Germany (Frankfurt), France (Paris), Poland (Warsaw) and Morocco (Casablanca, Agadir and Tangier). 

The bank also has 18 representative branches spread across the five continents: Milan (Italy), Istanbul (Turkey), Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong (China), Dubai (United Arab Emirates), New Delhi (India), Cairo (Egypt), Santiago de Chile (Chile), Bogotá (Colombia), New York (USA), Singapore, Johannesburg (South Africa), São Paulo (Brazil), Algiers (Algeria), Lima (Peru), Sidney (Australia) and Toronto (Canada). 

At the same time, CaixaBank has agreements in place with more than 1,600 international banks, making it easier for companies and individuals from any country in the world to engage in international transactions and foreign trade. In addition, it controls 100% of Portuguese bank BPI and has a 9.92% share in Austrian bank Erste Bank. 

CaixaBank's International Banking network is the only AENOR-certified international banking network in Spain.

]]>

This year marks CaixaBank’s presence in Italy of two decades. Since opening its representative branch in Milan in 2000, the entity has become established as a benchmark bank for Spanish companies in Italy, and for Italian companies with interests in Spain.

The representative branch in Italy, comprising a team of four people, offers support in foreign trade, and business and corporate banking services to its customers with interests in Spain and Italy.

In the field of trade finance, CaixaBank has a 26% market share in Italy, which means that more than 1 out of every 4 guarantees and letters of credit that are issued to/from Spanish banks to/from Italian banks, are carried out through CaixaBank.

As regards the corporate sphere, the branch represents CaixaBank in the dealings with the main local companies and financial institutions, relaying companies' needs to the relevant teams in Spain. It also has a person dedicated to Italian banks' coverage in collaboration with the International Financial Institutions (IFI) team.

In its two decades in Italy, CaixaBank has also worked to foster business relationships between the two countries, through partnerships with institutions such as the ICEX and the Spanish Embassy in the country. CaixaBank is also a member of the governing board of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Italy.

Italy, a key customer for Spain

Italy is one of the countries offering major opportunities to Spanish companies as a result of its long-standing history of investment relationships with Spain. With 78 points in the CIBI (CaixaBank index for Business Internationalisation) in 2019, Italy ranks seventh in the world, along with Switzerland.

In 2019, Spanish exports to Italy amounted to over €23.2 billion euros, according to ICEX data, an increase of 2.1% on the previous year. Some of Spain's exports to Italy include automotive industry products, fuels and lubricants, female clothing products, olive oil, plastic raw materials and semi-processed products.

Furthermore, Spanish imports from Italy reached a total of €20.56 billion euros in 2019. Some of Italy's exports to Spain include automotive industry equipment, components and accessories, fuels and lubricants, and cars. 

CaixaBank's international presence 

The Milan branch is one of the first representative branches opened by CaixaBank abroad, in a global network that operates today through operational branches in 5 countries, and 18 representative branches. 

The entity maintains its international presence through its operational branches, representative branches and cooperation agreements with international banks. Currently, CaixaBank has branches in the United Kingdom (London), Germany (Frankfurt), France (Paris), Poland (Warsaw) and Morocco (Casablanca, Agadir and Tangier). 

The bank also has 18 representative branches spread across the five continents: Milan (Italy), Istanbul (Turkey), Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong (China), Dubai (United Arab Emirates), New Delhi (India), Cairo (Egypt), Santiago de Chile (Chile), Bogotá (Colombia), New York (USA), Singapore, Johannesburg (South Africa), São Paulo (Brazil), Algiers (Algeria), Lima (Peru), Sidney (Australia) and Toronto (Canada). 

At the same time, CaixaBank has agreements in place with more than 1,600 international banks, making it easier for companies and individuals from any country in the world to engage in international transactions and foreign trade. In addition, it controls 100% of Portuguese bank BPI and has a 9.92% share in Austrian bank Erste Bank. 

CaixaBank's International Banking network is the only AENOR-certified international banking network in Spain.

]]>
0
<![CDATA[CaixaBank reinforces its commitment to socially responsible banking and enhancing the business relationship between Spain and France at the 2020 COCEF awards]]> https://blog.caixabank.es/?p=23645 2020-12-22T00:00:00.0Z 2020-12-22T00:00:00.0Z <![CDATA[CaixaBank reinforces its commitment to socially responsible banking and enhancing the business relationship between Spain and France at the 2020 COCEF awards]]> CaixaBank's branch in France was one of the participating entities at the COCEF awards ceremony, held every year by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in France, granting the "Inclusion" award, which is part of the newly created Corporate Social Responsibility awards category. This way, the Bank reinforces its commitment to socially responsible banking and enhancing the business relationship between Spain and France. 

The Bank, which holds a banking licence in France since 2018, has established itself as a benchmark Spanish bank for Spanish businesses with interests in France and for French businesses operating in Spain. In the last two years, CaixaBank's branch in France has granted financing in the country in the amount of €2.6 billion.

Furthermore, in line with the priorities set out in CaixaBank's 2019-2021 Strategic Plan, the Bank has consolidated itself in the ESG financing sector in France over these past two years -following environmental, social and governance criteria-, with operations totalling over €930 million. Among these operations, particularly noteworthy are those entered with companies engaged in environmental services, construction, energy and public-private partnerships, as well as many others.

The branch in France has been especially active between 2019 and 2020 in the field of renewable energies financed in the Project Finance modality. Among the more relevant operations, the participation of CaixaBank as the only non-French entity in the largest refinancing operation in the onshore wind sector, the financing of photovoltaic operations and the Saint Nazaire and Fécamp offshore wind farms stand out.

CaixaBank's branch in France

CaixaBank obtained its banking licence in France in 2018, and since then the Bank has increased its activity and long-term commitment with the country, assembling a highly qualified team and providing further proximity to customers, greater agility in banking operations and a larger contribution to the French economy.

CaixaBank's branch in France offers foreign trade and corporate banking services to French businesses, Spanish businesses operating and with interests in France and to multinational corporations with interests in the country. Infrastructure (fibre optics and motorways), railway and commercial aviation are among the most prominent sectors.

CaixaBank, committed to sustainable financing

CaixaBank is one of the financial institutions most committed to sustainability, given that its Socially Responsible Banking Plan covers four significant principles of action that include a direct contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Through its initiatives, the Bank is supporting environmentally friendly initiatives and projects that contribute to preventing and mitigating climate change and to encouraging the transition to a low-carbon economy and social development.

The Bank, chaired by Jordi Gual and managed by Gonzalo Gortázar, issued a green bond for €1 billion in 2020 to fund renewable energy projects and energy-efficient buildings, as well as a social bond for €1 billion to curb the effects of COVID-19 by funding SMEs and micro-enterprises located in Spain's most disadvantaged areas. CaixaBank became the first Spanish bank to issue a social bond in 2019 in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Since 2017, the bank has mobilised a total of €27.3 billion in sustainable financing, with a total of 116 operations, thus, establishing itself as one of Europe's leading banks in sustainable financing.

 

]]>
CaixaBank's branch in France was one of the participating entities at the COCEF awards ceremony, held every year by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in France, granting the "Inclusion" award, which is part of the newly created Corporate Social Responsibility awards category. This way, the Bank reinforces its commitment to socially responsible banking and enhancing the business relationship between Spain and France. 

The Bank, which holds a banking licence in France since 2018, has established itself as a benchmark Spanish bank for Spanish businesses with interests in France and for French businesses operating in Spain. In the last two years, CaixaBank's branch in France has granted financing in the country in the amount of €2.6 billion.

Furthermore, in line with the priorities set out in CaixaBank's 2019-2021 Strategic Plan, the Bank has consolidated itself in the ESG financing sector in France over these past two years -following environmental, social and governance criteria-, with operations totalling over €930 million. Among these operations, particularly noteworthy are those entered with companies engaged in environmental services, construction, energy and public-private partnerships, as well as many others.

The branch in France has been especially active between 2019 and 2020 in the field of renewable energies financed in the Project Finance modality. Among the more relevant operations, the participation of CaixaBank as the only non-French entity in the largest refinancing operation in the onshore wind sector, the financing of photovoltaic operations and the Saint Nazaire and Fécamp offshore wind farms stand out.

CaixaBank's branch in France

CaixaBank obtained its banking licence in France in 2018, and since then the Bank has increased its activity and long-term commitment with the country, assembling a highly qualified team and providing further proximity to customers, greater agility in banking operations and a larger contribution to the French economy.

CaixaBank's branch in France offers foreign trade and corporate banking services to French businesses, Spanish businesses operating and with interests in France and to multinational corporations with interests in the country. Infrastructure (fibre optics and motorways), railway and commercial aviation are among the most prominent sectors.

CaixaBank, committed to sustainable financing

CaixaBank is one of the financial institutions most committed to sustainability, given that its Socially Responsible Banking Plan covers four significant principles of action that include a direct contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Through its initiatives, the Bank is supporting environmentally friendly initiatives and projects that contribute to preventing and mitigating climate change and to encouraging the transition to a low-carbon economy and social development.

The Bank, chaired by Jordi Gual and managed by Gonzalo Gortázar, issued a green bond for €1 billion in 2020 to fund renewable energy projects and energy-efficient buildings, as well as a social bond for €1 billion to curb the effects of COVID-19 by funding SMEs and micro-enterprises located in Spain's most disadvantaged areas. CaixaBank became the first Spanish bank to issue a social bond in 2019 in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Since 2017, the bank has mobilised a total of €27.3 billion in sustainable financing, with a total of 116 operations, thus, establishing itself as one of Europe's leading banks in sustainable financing.

 

]]>
0
<![CDATA[Gonzalo Gortázar meets the winners of the \"CaixaBank Women in Business Award 2020\"]]> https://blog.caixabank.es/?p=23645 2020-12-18T00:00:00.0Z 2020-12-18T00:00:00.0Z <![CDATA[Gonzalo Gortázar meets the winners of the \"CaixaBank Women in Business Award 2020\"]]>
Gonzalo Gortázar, the CEO of CaixaBank, met with the national winner and the regional winners of the latest edition of the "CaixaBank Women in Business Award", which recognises  leading Spanish female business managers .

At the event, which was held online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chief Executive Officer of CaixaBank congratulated the winners and praised the high quality of this year’s candidates, a testament to the success of the campaign in the last four years.

Gonzalo Gortazar took the opportunity to share his experience and thoughts on the need to advance diversity in business invited them to join the new "CaixaBank Women in Business Community" online network.

Commenting on the initiative, Gonzalo Gortázar said: “At times like the present, CaixaBank seeks to go beyond public acknowledgement of female talent. Through this online Community, we are enabling professional relationships between leading businesswomen around the world, sharing information on equal opportunities and best practices among companies in this field".

Furthermore, Gonzalo Gortázar commended this year's national winner, the businesswoman from Menorca, Lina Mascaró, chairwoman of Grupo Mascaró, which includes the brands Mascaró and Pretty Ballerinas, as one of the Spanish representatives of the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge (IWEC) Awards, which were awarded online in November this year. This year’s event  included a new feature,the winner of the Prémio Mulher Empresária BPI, which acknowledged the career of Isabel Furtado, CEO of Grupo Textil Manuel Gonçalves (TMG)  thus extending the reach of  IWEC Awards to businesswomen in Portugal.

This year, the IWEC conference recognised the achievements of  41 female employers from 16 countries, representing a global turnover of more than 2 billion USD and  employing more than 10,000 people. 

The "CaixaBank Women in Business Community"

The "CaixaBank Woman in Business Community" is an online network that brings together regional and national winners from the four editions of the CaixaBank Women in Business Awards. The virtual community, which takes place on a private space on LinkedIn, has been set up as a platform to share knowledge, ideas and experiences, as well as a meeting point to establish professional connections between a group of female managers, who stand out for their careers, strategic vision, capacity of innovation and transformational leadership.

The platform offers an extensive repository of information on female business and leadership, adapted to the interests of participants, and enables a participatory forum in which the winning businesswomen can exchange knowledge and learn from the best practices that have been adopted in each of the businesses represented.

The community also offers access to exclusive experiences, such as forums, debates, conferences and domestic and international events, with which it aims to contribute to the development and leadership of women in the business world.

With the goal of creating a personal and professional connection among businesswomen worldwide, the 'Women in Business Community' facilitates participation in various initiatives of other leading domestic and international businesswomen networks, some of which include IWEC, the International Women's Forum, Vital Voices and EJE&CON (the Spanish Association of Executives and Directors). 

CaixaBank's Wengage programme, the institution's commitment to equality

Diversity, meritocracy, equal opportunities and talent recognition are some of the pillars of CaixaBank's corporate culture. Under these premises, it works with a commitment to be a pacesetter for its employees, promoting inclusion and participation and bolstering projects that promote equality, both within the company and across the whole of society. At CaixaBank 41.7% of managerial positions are held by women, with a public commitment to reach 43% in 2021, while 40% of the Board of Directors are women, one of the highest ratios in the sector.

CaixaBank's Wengage diversity programme is a cross-disciplinary project developed by people from all areas of CaixaBank, based on meritocracy and the promotion of equal opportunities, which works to improve the visibility of women in the workplace. Wengage includes internal measures to foster flexibility and work-life balance, to raise awareness on diversity and strengthen the role of women, with training programmes and female mentoring plans, through which female managers will guide other professionals in developing their careers. 

Wengage also develops external initiatives for customers and society, based on championing the diversity and equal opportunities across three areas:  leadership and enterprise; innovation and education; and sport.

This year the programme has received recognition as the “Best Practice in Management of Diversity 2020 in the Large Corporates category” by Fundación Diversity, the promoter in Spain of the European Diversity Charter.

Furthermore, in January 2020, CaixaBank signed an Equality Plan to promote the principles of equal opportunities and diversity in work teams, increase the presence of women in managerial positions and strengthen measures to enhance work-life balance. The plan features the scope of gender in managerial development programs and in recruitment and training processes, and the fostering of remote working and flexibility. 

Thanks to this commitment, CaixaBank has received distinctions such as being included in the Bloomberg 2020 Gender-Equality Index, the Equality in Business Badge (DIE), managed by the Institute of Women, and has been recognised by the Másfamilia Foundation with EFR Certification (Family Responsible Company). It has received various recognitions, such as the 25th anniversary of the Spanish Federation of Female Managers, Executives, Professionals and Entrepreneurs (FEDEPE) Award. It also features on the European Women on Boards (EWoB) Gender Diversity Index.

In addition, CaixaBank collaborates with EJE&CON, with which this year it has launched the study of IESE's “Code of Good Practice Monitoring Survey for Managing Talent and Improving the Company's Competitiveness”, selected by the UN to be presented at the 2020 Women's Empowerment Principles (WEP) Forum held in New York in March.

CaixaBank is associated with the international programme Target Gender Equality and the Women’s Empowerment Principles, of the United Nations; the Voluntary Agreement with the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality, 'More women, better businesses', seeking better representativeness of women in management positions; and the Diversity Charter, promoting equal opportunities and anti-discriminatory measures.

]]>

Gonzalo Gortázar, the CEO of CaixaBank, met with the national winner and the regional winners of the latest edition of the "CaixaBank Women in Business Award", which recognises  leading Spanish female business managers .

At the event, which was held online this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chief Executive Officer of CaixaBank congratulated the winners and praised the high quality of this year’s candidates, a testament to the success of the campaign in the last four years.

Gonzalo Gortazar took the opportunity to share his experience and thoughts on the need to advance diversity in business invited them to join the new "CaixaBank Women in Business Community" online network.

Commenting on the initiative, Gonzalo Gortázar said: “At times like the present, CaixaBank seeks to go beyond public acknowledgement of female talent. Through this online Community, we are enabling professional relationships between leading businesswomen around the world, sharing information on equal opportunities and best practices among companies in this field".

Furthermore, Gonzalo Gortázar commended this year's national winner, the businesswoman from Menorca, Lina Mascaró, chairwoman of Grupo Mascaró, which includes the brands Mascaró and Pretty Ballerinas, as one of the Spanish representatives of the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge (IWEC) Awards, which were awarded online in November this year. This year’s event  included a new feature,the winner of the Prémio Mulher Empresária BPI, which acknowledged the career of Isabel Furtado, CEO of Grupo Textil Manuel Gonçalves (TMG)  thus extending the reach of  IWEC Awards to businesswomen in Portugal.

This year, the IWEC conference recognised the achievements of  41 female employers from 16 countries, representing a global turnover of more than 2 billion USD and  employing more than 10,000 people. 

The "CaixaBank Women in Business Community"

The "CaixaBank Woman in Business Community" is an online network that brings together regional and national winners from the four editions of the CaixaBank Women in Business Awards. The virtual community, which takes place on a private space on LinkedIn, has been set up as a platform to share knowledge, ideas and experiences, as well as a meeting point to establish professional connections between a group of female managers, who stand out for their careers, strategic vision, capacity of innovation and transformational leadership.

The platform offers an extensive repository of information on female business and leadership, adapted to the interests of participants, and enables a participatory forum in which the winning businesswomen can exchange knowledge and learn from the best practices that have been adopted in each of the businesses represented.

The community also offers access to exclusive experiences, such as forums, debates, conferences and domestic and international events, with which it aims to contribute to the development and leadership of women in the business world.

With the goal of creating a personal and professional connection among businesswomen worldwide, the 'Women in Business Community' facilitates participation in various initiatives of other leading domestic and international businesswomen networks, some of which include IWEC, the International Women's Forum, Vital Voices and EJE&CON (the Spanish Association of Executives and Directors). 

CaixaBank's Wengage programme, the institution's commitment to equality

Diversity, meritocracy, equal opportunities and talent recognition are some of the pillars of CaixaBank's corporate culture. Under these premises, it works with a commitment to be a pacesetter for its employees, promoting inclusion and participation and bolstering projects that promote equality, both within the company and across the whole of society. At CaixaBank 41.7% of managerial positions are held by women, with a public commitment to reach 43% in 2021, while 40% of the Board of Directors are women, one of the highest ratios in the sector.

CaixaBank's Wengage diversity programme is a cross-disciplinary project developed by people from all areas of CaixaBank, based on meritocracy and the promotion of equal opportunities, which works to improve the visibility of women in the workplace. Wengage includes internal measures to foster flexibility and work-life balance, to raise awareness on diversity and strengthen the role of women, with training programmes and female mentoring plans, through which female managers will guide other professionals in developing their careers. 

Wengage also develops external initiatives for customers and society, based on championing the diversity and equal opportunities across three areas:  leadership and enterprise; innovation and education; and sport.

This year the programme has received recognition as the “Best Practice in Management of Diversity 2020 in the Large Corporates category” by Fundación Diversity, the promoter in Spain of the European Diversity Charter.

Furthermore, in January 2020, CaixaBank signed an Equality Plan to promote the principles of equal opportunities and diversity in work teams, increase the presence of women in managerial positions and strengthen measures to enhance work-life balance. The plan features the scope of gender in managerial development programs and in recruitment and training processes, and the fostering of remote working and flexibility. 

Thanks to this commitment, CaixaBank has received distinctions such as being included in the Bloomberg 2020 Gender-Equality Index, the Equality in Business Badge (DIE), managed by the Institute of Women, and has been recognised by the Másfamilia Foundation with EFR Certification (Family Responsible Company). It has received various recognitions, such as the 25th anniversary of the Spanish Federation of Female Managers, Executives, Professionals and Entrepreneurs (FEDEPE) Award. It also features on the European Women on Boards (EWoB) Gender Diversity Index.

In addition, CaixaBank collaborates with EJE&CON, with which this year it has launched the study of IESE's “Code of Good Practice Monitoring Survey for Managing Talent and Improving the Company's Competitiveness”, selected by the UN to be presented at the 2020 Women's Empowerment Principles (WEP) Forum held in New York in March.

CaixaBank is associated with the international programme Target Gender Equality and the Women’s Empowerment Principles, of the United Nations; the Voluntary Agreement with the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality, 'More women, better businesses', seeking better representativeness of women in management positions; and the Diversity Charter, promoting equal opportunities and anti-discriminatory measures.

]]>
0