Having a regular income, financial security, no shortages – all of these things represent prosperity. It is the goal of German policy for as many citizens as possible to lead a life free from worry. Reaching that goal is easiest when there is sufficient employment. With the money earned through employed work, salaries are paid. At the same time, these jobs sustain the social security system, ensuring that the sick will receive medical care and the elderly their pensions.
As individuals, we usually measure our prosperity through the balance in our bank accounts. If there is money left at the end of the month, that is a good sign because the money that is not spent immediately may be saved and used to provide for the future. But in the current low interest rate environment, saving does not appear to be an attractive option. How can we help people with their personal financial provisions in these times?
Since 2014, when making proprietary investments DekaBank has exclusively selected companies that meet strict exclusion criteria concerning environmental issues, the sale of military equipment, human rights and anti-corruption measures.
Johannes Behrens-Türk: Sustainability has been a fundamental issue for the Savings Banks for more than 200 years. Our self-image is based on the “Dresden Theses” of the Savings Banks Finance Group, and as sustainability is such an integral part of DekaBank's business strategy, we decided against having a separate sustainability strategy. Sustainability is already an integral part of our operative strategic process.
Behrens-Türk: One of our key issues in 2014 was the implementation of a sustainability filter for the Deka Group's proprietary investments, which amounted to € 22.1 billion at the 2014 year-end. It is easier to change investment criteria with proprietary investments than with client funds. We no longer invest in companies that do not meet our strict requirements with regard to the environment, armaments, human rights and corruption.
Johannes Behrens-Türk: "Sustainability is deeply rooted in DekaBank's business strategy."
An in-depth exchange of professional views and opinions forms the basis for DekaBank's sustainable investments.
Behrens-Türk: Our Treasury colleagues manage the proprietary investments of the Deka Group. For research, they use one of the most renowned databases, the Ethical Investment Research Service. Ultimately, we apply a traffic light system; green means that an investment is possible, red means that it is not. Imug, an independent sustainability rating agency, has certified DekaBank as a leader among the system-relevant banks in Germany and Europe due to our sustainable management of proprietary investments. Our sustainable funds products for individual investors (DekaNachhaltigkeit) combine screening for exclusion criteria with a best-in-class approach, selecting the most sustainable companies in a sector. Although we sacrifice investment opportunities through our strict sustainability criteria, we still yield impressive returns for our customers.
Behrens-Türk: Over the past year, we have increased our sustainable portfolio markedly, from € 4 billion to € 6 billion, and we are confident that many more individual and institutional investors will choose to invest in our sustainability funds in the future.