Promoting the common good and protecting the natural foundations of life has been an integral part of our DNA for almost 200 years. As a Landesbank and the central S-Group bank for German Sparkassen, we consider leading by example - above and beyond regulatory requirements - as our primary obligation.
In order that we can continue to meet the standards of service that we aspire to and fulfil the promise that we have made to our stakeholders, we constantly strive to develop the content and initiatives of our strategic agenda with a view to the future - and thus remain what we are today: simply a good bank.
"Values with impact." - Helaba's mission statement clearly underscores what lies at the heart of our philosophy and business strategy. By acting in line with our values, our aim is to achieve sustainable and long-term success. In this way, we want to continue to make a positive difference in the future as a strong, reliable partner that focuses on providing the greatest possible benefit to our customers, offers our employees future-proof and rewarding jobs and always creates a positive added value for society as a whole. That is why our claim is to act responsibly and sustainably in all the decisions that we take:
Although the Covid-19 pandemic has called many previous assumptions into question, it has generally reinforced the trend towards greater sustainability. The significance of this issue in our clients' business models is growing and the social and political pressure on companies and financial institutions is steadily increasing. We are convinced that demand for sustainable financial products will far exceed supply.
The aim is for the EU economy to be completely carbon neutral and circular within 30 years - that is what the European Green Deal envisages by the year 2050. Since Helaba's business activities are closely intertwined with the real economy, we have a crucial role to play in promoting this transformation. We want to respond to the resulting need for advice from our clients by providing innovative, tailor-made financing solutions.
At the same time, "Financing Sustainable Growth", an action plan for sustainable finance developed by the EU Commission, informs our work. We take into account the many associated regulatory requirements, have made sustainability aspects and climate risks an integral part of our risk management concept and are continuously adapting our reporting formats in line with recommendations of the TCFD (Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure).
Because sustainability is an integral part of our corporate responsibility, the appropriate control instruments have been integrated into the bank's core controlling processes. Sustainability Management, as a horizontal, interdisciplinary function, ensures that this principle is applied to all areas of the bank and the entire Group by means of thematic workshops and training courses.
Risk strategies in lending activities
For our core business of lending, we have defined binding, Group-wide guidelines that are firmly embedded in our risk strategies: We aim to minimise any negative effects on sustainability aspects arising from our financing activities, including transitional and physical risks resulting from climate change. The strategies have been approved by Helaba's Supervisory Board and Board of Owners and, as such, are of the most binding nature possible.
We review these lending criteria on an annual basis and adjust them if necessary. In 2020, for example, we made our already restrictive approach to coal-based energy even stricter. Now, the financing of projects directly related to mining thermal coal has been explicitly ruled out. In addition, export finance transactions must generally comply with the OECD Recommendation on Common Approaches for Officially Supported Export Credits and Environmental and Social Due Diligence. In this way, we ensure that we do not incur any disproportionate ESG risks or support questionable business practices.
In order to meet the expectations of policymakers, financial regulators, our clients and society at large, we have launched a Group-wide programme that integrates all relevant units such as risk management and market divisions. In a number of clusters and working groups, we are addressing the numerous issues in a systematic and holistic manner. The aim is to strengthen Helaba's long-term competitive position on the market and to implement the various regulatory requirements of supervisory bodies and EU policy throughout the Group.