Retreat to Bottom Line not an Option

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

By John Willman

Sustainable banking is a term that has acquired new meaning in the past year, as the world?s leading financial institutions have struggled to deal with the US sub-prime lending crisis.
Banks that prided themselves on the sustainability of their lending practices have found themselves writing off debt that they had thought was ? almost literally ? safe as houses.

Many of the largest have been humbled by the need to turn to emerging market investors to bolster their balance sheets and to central banks for support in the ensuing credit crunch.

Some might be tempted to ease up on their sustainability strategies, choosing to focus instead on the bottom line as the clouds continue to gather over global financial markets. Yet there is no sign of any such retrenchment in the number of entries submitted this year for the 2008 FT Sustainable Banking Awards, created by the Financial Times and the International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank group.

The number of entries this year is 182, up from 151 last year and 90 in 2006, the first year of the awards. The entries have come from 129 institutions in 54 countries, ranging from members of the global banking premier league to relative tiddlers providing financial services to the poorest people in the emerging markets of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

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Source: The Financial Times (link opens in a new window)