The CSR Ambition deployed within businesses
The Transform to Grow strategic plan includes a CSR ambition, is reflected in the Group’s commercial momentum through the aim to develop the following activities:
- Sustainable and Positive Impact Finance (SPIF) to monitor credit, leasing and customer support in the growing of their positive impact activities;
- Sustainable and Positive Investments (SPI) for wealth and asset management activities, including the structuring of products aimed at institutional and individual investors.
This commercial ambition is developed more particularly around the following three CSR areas: Climate Change, Societal Innovations, and the Contribution to Sustainable Development in Africa.
The aim is to gradually guide all commercial action (financing, consulting, structuring and third-party management) towards activities generating a positive impact on the sustainable development of the economy and of society.
In order to monitor the actions carried out, Societe Generale adopted a framework of internal definitions of these two dimensions in 2018: SPI and SPIF. The aim is to facilitate the dissemination of commitments throughout all activities, and to ensure transparent communication regarding the Group’s actions.
Climate and Energy Transition
In December 2017, Societe Generale committed to raising EUR 100 billion in financing earmarked for the energy transition between 2016 and 2020, including a nominal amount of EUR 85 billion for Bookrunner positions in green bonds, and EUR 15 billion in the form of advisory and/or financing mandates dedicated to the renewable energies sector. At the end of 2018, the Group had achieved 69% of its commitment (EUR 21.4 billion for the renewable energies sector and EUR 47.6 billion for green bonds).
In 2018, overall, the recorded amount of green financing supplied by Societe Generale to private and public sector undertakings and to individuals (energy infrastructures, all forms of renewable energy production, waste and recycling, public transport projects, alternative fuels, clean vehicles, green real estate, water treatment) was more than EUR 6.5 billion.
In nominal value, green bond issues (co)-managed by the Bank in 2018 represented EUR 18 billion in green and sustainable bonds raised through 22 transactions, of which 13 were inaugural issues.
This line of action was developed in 2018, illustrating the ambition to contribute to cities offering the best possible services for the common good, thereby falling within the framework of the Group’s SPIF activities.
With respect to real estate construction, a team dedicated to the Greater Paris project and working with a budget of EUR 2.5 billion until 2020 has a three-fold mission underpinned by a high CSR standard:
- acting as a partner to local authorities;
- building the city of the future around the smart city concept;
- promoting bank financing of SMEs in Greater Paris and helping to allocate 20% of the project requirements to SMEs.
The Sustainable Cities line of action is also being developed through high-impact projects, such as EUR 3.5 billion financing in Italy for a fibre optic infrastructure, the largest ever project finance deal in Europe in this field; through a total of nearly EUR 700 million in operations carried out in 2018 in the Health – Medical-Social – Education sectors with optimised financing costs for the client and related advice; and through consulting on renovation or accessibility investments in the non-profit sector related to the elderly, healthcare, disability and education.
Innovation in automotive products and transport practices is generating new requirements and opportunities. ALD Automotive, the vehicle leasing and fleet management subsidiary, strives to create sustainable mobility conditions by making responsible recommendations: identifying the right mobility solution for the right purpose, and enabling its clients to make informed decisions, while reducing its fleet’s environmental footprint.
This is reflected in an increasingly significant share of electric vehicles, changing all ALD Automotive businesses from the co-design of the offer to the establishment of charging infrastructures, commercial distribution, the provision of analysis and consulting expertise, and the growing share of hybrid and electric vehicles (102,705 vehicles in 2018).
Furthermore, Societe Generale acted as adviser to CAF for the acquisition of Solaris Bus & Coach for EUR 300 million. Solaris is a global supplier of conventional and electric buses, considered one of the main producers of clean vehicles in the European Union, be they electric, hybrid or trolley. CAF is a global rail equipment leader. The new Group has become one of the leading players in sustainable urban mobility in Europe.
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Sustainable cities and mobility
SUPPORTING REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT
A major commitment to companies (VSBs, SMEs and professionals)
Societe Generale has significantly boosted its support for companies and entrepreneurs in terms of local presence 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 at addressing strategic issues, by pooling expertise from Retail Banking, Corporate and Investment Banking, Private Banking and the Real Estate divisions, 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 personal 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 relations between the two networks, and the appointment of 150 startup advisors throughout France.
Social and solidarity economy
The Group supports innovative solutions for fostering sustainable economic development that combine environmental and social performance through different vehicles (companies, cooperatives, non-profit associations), in line with social cohesion and solidarity targets.
Financing the non-profit sector in France
The non-profit sector holds an important place in the French economy and society, on account of services provided to various highly professionalised sectors, such as medical-social establishments, facilities for people with disabilities, institutions promoting integration and education, and the jobs they generate.
Societe Generale has developed close relationships with this sector, thanks to its network of non-profit specialists across the country. The Bank provides its expertise to its 110,000 non-profit clients (i.e. an 8% market share overall, which rises to 20% in the largest client segments) to help them achieve their everyday management, investment and financing goals. The Group has developed a specialised Health – Medical-social – Education unit to advise clients on property projects and provide financing in this regard.
A socially responsible banking offer that gives meaning to savings and wealth management
Societe Generale, one of the first banks to have offered socially responsible finance products and services to its clients, is strengthening its role as a corporate citizen by meeting its clients’ growing interest in sharing solutions. As an intermediary between investors and borrowers, the Bank forms part of a collective movement where everyone – investor, consumer or entrepreneur – can contribute to an economy where social innovation and solidarity take on their full meaning.
In 2018, Private Banking collaborated with the Global Markets teams to develop the first structured product with a charity component. Its innovative quality lies therein that, over and above a fixed donation made upon subscribing to the product, Societe Generale will provide partner associations with a conditional donation that will be released once the investment is repaid and in the event of a rise in the markets. Societe Generale is the only donor. Overall, 3,000 clients subscribed to these charity products, for a nominal amount of nearly EUR 330 million.
Moreover, French Retail Banking offered more conventional products:
- the Solidarity Savings Service, which carries the Finansol label guaranteeing investors that their solidarity savings are ethical and transparent
- the SG Solidarité solidarity and sharing fund, also carrying the Finansol label, which can be accessed under life insurance;
- the Charity bank cards.
Thanks to these products and the commitment of its clients, Societe Generale paid nearly EUR 1.7 million to 48 partner associations in 2018. In addition, these associations benefit from greater visibility among a wider audience.
Commitments in microfinance
The Group decided to support microfinance through partnerships for refinancing dedicated structures in Africa (see p. 278, “Africa”) and, in metropolitan France and France overseas, a collaboration with ADIE (Association for the Right to Economic Initiative) since 2006.
In 2018, this partnership enabled the provision of EUR 14 million in credit lines and EUR 167,000 in sponsorship aid. The financial value of overseas outstandings with ADIE stood at EUR 2 million.
Supporting 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 'Know Your Client' requirements, 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” (Wealth Managment) in 2017.
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SOLUTIONS FOR VULNERABLE PERSONS OR IN SITUATION OF FINANCIAL HARDSHIP
Convinced that the development of Africa is one of the collective challenges to which Societe Generale can contribute, the Bank provides its expertise and strength of innovation and experimentation to serve positive transformation on the continent.
With the launch of the Grow with Africa initiative at the end of November 2018, Societe Generale has committed to be a key driving force in the sustainable and low-carbon development of Africa, in partnership with international and local players in the private and public sector, by focusing on four main areas of development:
- multi-dimensional support for African SMEs;
- infrastructure financing;
- the development of innovative financing solutions, in particular in the agricultural and energy sectors;
- financial inclusion.
Cross-Business implementation of the three pillars of CSR ambition among investor clients
As part of the Group’s CSR ambition, Global Markets, Private Banking and Asset Management (LYXOR) have rolled out their structuring, consulting and product management capabilities under the label of Sustainable Positive Investments (SPI).
Within Global Markets
Sales of Sustainable & Positive Impact investment solutions have developed through an expanded SPI offer to meet growing demand from individual, institutional and corporate investors. Some key innovations were carried out in partnership with the dedicated teams, enabling investors to support positive impact financing corresponding to matters they consider a priority.
Within Asset Management businesses (LYXOR Asset Management)
LYXOR AM's active and passive management solutions, as well as its fund selection expertise, address the challenges of climate change and the growing demand for responsible investments.
As a pioneer of ETFs in Europe, LYXOR has leveraged its culture of innovation to provide investors with solutions that integrate ESG criteria. It is the only supplier in Europe to offer thematic ETFs aligned with four UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): water, renewable energies, climate action and gender equality. The World Water ETF has become the largest one in Europe, with EUR 485 million in assets under management. The Green Bond ETF, which captures the performance and positive impact of green bond projects, was the first ETF of this type in the world.
At the end of 2018, it managed more than EUR 14 billion including a shareholder commitment, EUR 9.9 billion integrating exclusion approaches, EUR 609 million including environmental matters, and EUR 156 million managed under an ESG selection approach. In addition, the “Socle Défense” project is excluded from EUR 62 billion in assets under management.
Within Private Banking
Private Banking’s Philanthropic Centre was strengthened during the year in order to better support high net worth individual customers wishing to devote a share of their wealth to causes of general interest. More than 20 customers are supported by this centre, and four foundations have already been created.
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