Aware of the expectations of its stakeholders, Societe Generale is developing activities with a positive impact on society, by focusing on inclusion and by paying special attention to societal trends and innovation. New, more environment-friendly technologies and the sharing of data are supporting the emergence of new economic models. Investors, companies, individuals and all the Bank’s customers are increasingly conscious of and eager to implement solutions addressing social and environmental issues.
Moreover, important opportunities for business development are emerging along with the growth of sustainable cities and new mobility models.
A major commitment to companies (VSBs, SMEs and professionals)
Societe Generale has significantly boosted its support for companies and entrepreneurs in terms of local networks and access to business expertise. The Group draws on its expertise, its international network and its network of correspondent banks to support its corporate clients in 67 countries.
With the “Societe Generale Entrepreneurs” commercial strategy, the Bank provides owner-managers with a range of services and solutions specifically geared to addressing strategic issues, by pooling expertise from Retail Banking, Corporate and Investment Banking, Private Banking and the Real Estate division, and making it available under one roof in regional centres of excellence. This comprehensive and integrated package enables entrepreneurs to receive better support at every key stage of the development and transfer of ownership of their business.
Societe Generale made changes to its commercial strategy for professional clients in order to better meet their specific needs and new expectations. Professional clients now enjoy comprehensive support with two expert advisors at their disposal: one for their professional life and the other for their private life, as was already the case for corporate clients.
Societe Generale launched a scheme for startups with several focal points, including a partnership with Bpifrance, the French public investment organisation, for the purpose of strengthening the relationship between the two networks, and the appointment of 150 startup advisors throughout France.
A significant presence in financing the public and non-profit sectors
For more than 30 years, Societe Generale has been contributing to financing the public sector, funding public interest investments by sovereign states, local authorities, social housing associations, public institutions, and semi-public development and services companies. More recently, the Group has been innovating through a cross-sector sales strategy, which is dedicated exclusively to the Greater Paris project and aims to align all its skills to meet the credit, advice and service needs among all its clients who are public and private players participating in this major nationwide development project. The Group complies with the Gissler Charter (a charter promoting best practice between banking institutions and local authorities) in its relations with public authorities.
For many years, Societe Generale has cultivated close relationships with non-profit associations, thanks to its networks of specialists across the country. With an overall market share of 10% and 100,000 non-profit customers, the Bank provides its expertise to help achieve their objectives,
by financing their development projects, advising them on the management of their assets and supporting them in their day-to-day management.
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Financing the public economy and non-profit sector
Focusing on vulnerable populations and those with poor access to banking services
In France and elsewhere in the world, the Group supports financial inclusion through the implementation of new banking models, and combats poverty and exclusion through partnerships with microfinance and investment in impact funds.
The Societe Generale and Crédit du Nord retail banking networks, in keeping with their regulatory obligations as defined in Article R. 312-4-3 of the French Monetary and Financial Code, have implemented a detection and monitoring system, combining internal warning mechanisms and KYC intelligence, for customers considerred to be in financial hardship. This system enables the Bank to contact these customers in writing, systematically and at the earliest opportunity, to propose a meeting with their financial advisor to present them with a specific offer designed to limit costs in the event of an incident.
Societe Generale introduced a dedicated process in 2004 to ensure the responsible management of over-indebted customers. It maintains services for bank accounts that receive income, except in special cases, and informs over-indebted customers of alternative payment methods to cheques. Debtors continue to benefit from any overdrafts already granted.
The French retail banking network also provides insurance offers for care providers and senior people. The most recent one was awarded the Oscar of the best dependence insurance contract by the French magazine “Gestion de Fortune” in 2017.
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Solutions for vulnerable persons or in situation of financial hardship
Over and above its impact on jobs and regional development, Societe Generale finances and invests in structures that contribute to the social cohesion of the communities and regions in which it operates.
Societe Generale has been supporting the ADIE initiative since 2006 in its financing activity in metropolitan France and French overseas deprtments. In 2017, the partnership enabled the provision of €11.5 million in credit lines and €167,000 in sponsorship aid.
Internationally, the Group has chosen to focus its microfinance activities in those countries in which it has a presence as a universal bank, notably in the regions of Africa and Europe. Since 2003, it has been lending its support, via its subsidiaries, to the microfinance sector in two ways: granting refinancing lines to microfinance institutions (MFIs) in local currency and acquiring minority stakes in MFIs. This strategy underpins the economic support given to social and local entrepreneurs, and satisfies the MFIs’ need to find local sources of financing, especially in local currency, to ensure their development without being exposed to currency risk.
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Adapting the Group’s products and services to the development of sustainable cities
In 2017, the Group's Real Estate department and Sogeprom, the Group’s property development subsidiary, won the annual Grand Prize in the category for new office buildings of over 50,000m2 at SIMI (a commercial real estate fair) for The Dunes, a fully connected technology park of 126,000m2, located to the east of Paris, and accommodating 5,000 Societe Generale staff working in the technology field. Designed with very exacting sustainability requirements, The Dunes is perfectly aligned with the Group’s wider responsibility policy.
This case is just one illustration of the commitment of Sogeprom to developing the real estate of tomorrow by placing the user at the heart of its concerns (comfort, air quality, connectivity, biodiversity, etc.) while also increasing the value of the real estate assets.
Mobility challenges are at the heart of sustainable city requirements. Societe Generale addresses them through its vehicle leasing subsidiary, ALD Automotive, as far as possible within the context of its traditional banking developments. ALD monitors the environmental impact of its fleet of vehicles and invests in the design of new mobility offers in keeping with new usages and the changing expectations of society and of its diret customers. The combination of automobile technical changes, evolving consumption patterns and mobility usages is creating new opportunities.
Sustainable and positive impact finance
“Beyond our commitments in terms of our own activities, our role as bankers is to help our clients contribute to a more inclusive and more sustainable economy. To do this, we have developed considerable social and environmental expertise ranging from research and advisory services to financing, capital market and investor solutions.”
Pierre Palmieri, Head of Global Finance and Head of Sustainable and Positive Impact Finance
Societe Generale prompted the UNEP-FI's Positive Impact initiative, which brings together 26 financial institutions worldwide and aims to bridge the gap of financing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations. As such, the Positive Impact Manifesto was published at the end of 2015, followed by the Positive Impact Principles at the beginning of 2017.
These publications have defined Positive Impact Finance as applying to every activity verifiably producing a positive impact on at least one of the sustainable development pillars (economic convergence, populations’ basic needs, the environment) while ensuring that the potential negative impacts have been identified and properly managed.
This concept reflects the reality of economic life (considering any negative impacts that must be remedied when they cannot be avoided) and, far from counteracting other initiatives launched in the market under different names, it aims to be all-encompassing.
In the Positive Impact Finance policy, the objectives for a closer analysis of the challenges have been grouped together, such as enabling climate-oriented initiatives to bridge the gap with social challenges for example, clarifying the methods used to measure the diversity of the impacts of certain projects, and establishing impact measures with maximum transparency.
Societe Generale has decided to promote its efforts under the development term “Sustainable Finance”, adding the concept of “Positive impact finance” for all projects to which it was possible to apply the precise analysis methodologies of all the positive and negative impacts in accordance with the Positive Impact Manifesto signed with the UNEP-FI.
These efforts form part of a global framework described as “Sustainable and Positive Impact Finance”.
The sustainable and positive impact finance enables Societe Generale today to support and finance clients and to structure products for investors around a wide spectrum of actions within the remit of Global Banking and Investor Solutions.
In 2017, positive impact finance transactions amounted to €2.7 billion (versus €2.2 billion in 2016).
To find out more:
Integrateed Report 2018: Building sustainable and positive impact finance
A bank pioneering responsible finance
Visit the SG CIB website
Visit the Climate Commitments section
Visit the Long-standing Environment & Social commitments section
Find out more about Societe Generale's commitments