Taking a stand:
Sustainable lending processes
DZ BANK is conscious of its responsibility toward its workforce, society, and the environment, and of its duty to ensure good governance. We use a uniform group-wide procedure for sustainable lending which is based on an extensive catalog of criteria.
The lending business is one of DZ BANK’s core activities. The subject of responsibility is particularly important in this area: In our lending operations, we systematically assess loan applications (conventional loans, project finance, and customer-specific trading limits) against relevant sustainability criteria as part of the credit check process. Loans to cooperative banks and to entities in the DZ BANK Group, as well as exposures that are being restructured are exempt from the checks. Further exemptions apply to certain product types in the joint credit business with the cooperative banks, to loans under blanket approval agreements, and to exposures that do not exceed the volume threshold for mandatory ratings.
Credit assessment procedure
DZ BANK applies a uniform bank-wide credit assessment procedure for sustainable lending. This procedure is based on a comprehensive sustainability checklist, sector-specific principles, and rejection criteria.
The credit risk strategy specifies that the entities in the Bank sector of the DZ BANK Group must treat their partners fairly and, as part of the sustainability strategy, not enter into any lending arrangement that could prejudice the reputation of the group. Based on these principles, a policy on sustainable lending was drawn up and approved in 2017. The policy applies to the majority of the management units involved in credit approvals and contains rejection criteria that apply to specific controversial assets, sectors, and business practices. These criteria are designed to preclude all transactions that do not meet minimum environmental, social, and governance requirements or involve increased risk of reputational damage for the DZ BANK Group. Individual companies within the DZ BANK Group may apply additional, further-reaching rejection criteria.
At the end of 2017, we launched a dedicated online training course on sustainable lending, which is mandatory for all employees involved in the processing of financing applications. The aim of the course is to make our employees more aware of the relevance of this subject and, at the same time, to provide specific assistance in how to assess financing inquiries for sustainability.
DZ BANK’s sustainability checklist, which has been in use since 2009, is based on the ten principles of the United Nations Global Compact and the Equator Principles. We use the list to assess all the factors relevant to a loan that may affect ecological or social risk. The assessments conducted by our experts look at business partners, customers, suppliers, sector, commercial focus, and other aspects.
Sectoral rules for sensitive industries
For the assessment of loan applications from sensitive industries, DZ BANK uses its ‘sectoral rules’ in addition to the sustainability check. These provide a frame of reference for loan approvals. Processing in accordance with the sectoral rules is an integral part of the sustainability check.
Sectoral rules exist for forestry, extractive industries, dam projects, and maritime industries. DZ BANK uses the fundamental sustainability checklist to assess loan applications from the agribusiness and livestock farming sectors. At the same time, we do everything we can to make sure that our customers adhere to animal welfare standards and to environmental, animal welfare, and consumer protection legislation.
Rejection criteria for lending
Since 2005, DZ BANK’s lending guidelines have set out how to deal with sensitive industries. In 2014, we translated these guidelines into criteria for rejecting loan applications, which the customer relationship managers use for guidance and which they take into account when assessing loan applications. The criteria currently apply to weaponry, pornography, gambling, significant environmental risks, and human rights abuses. In the autumn of 2017, the Board of Managing Directors also decided to reject all future project financing applications for coal-fired power plants.