Last update: 17/09/2020

Another kind of finance is not only possible, it is, today, both necessary and urgent - A message by FEBEA Chairman P. Sasia

Thursday, 17 September, 2020
Brussels, 15.09.2020
The Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks is now entering a new era, after the Board members for the next three years were elected during the General Assembly held on 3 September. It is a new era which, under normal circumstances, would have been characterised by the development and implementation of a new Strategic Plan for the 2022-2025 period, as a means of adapting our activities to the significant structural changes made by the Federation over recent years.
But nothing at the moment is normal.
The Covid-19 crisis has brought with it, among many other things, the need for both individuals and organisations to reposition themselves within a new social context which has a whole new set of rules and priorities. We must therefore engage in a profound process of reflection regarding how we understand the world and our place in it.  The new situation compels us, in particular, to find new ways of constructing social justice. Today, more than ever, we can say that all the tools we have developed in the different fields of human activity (economics, politics, culture and technology, etc.) reveal their true ethical value and legitimacy in the extent to which they are oriented towards this task of building the common good.
For the Federation, this challenge means recognising the founding values that unite our members and asking ourselves what exactly they mean and how they can be applied in modern financial practice. In short, it means asking ourselves, in all intellectual and moral honesty, what justifies our existence today?
The answer to this question will determine the future of the Federation over the coming years. I am convinced that we will choose the right path. And it is a conviction that is based on much more than a simple, perhaps even naive, desire. I need only to refer to the initial responses received from both the Federation itself and it members over the past few months, which reveal their strong will, extensive knowledge and impressive ability to adapt, thereby confirming the soundness of the project we have built together over the past several decades. 
But my conviction is rooted in something much deeper than our ability to implement specific responses. Beyond our competencies, what really constitutes the cornerstone on which our legitimacy rests is the culture that characterises the different organisations that make up our Federation. It is a culture which is much more than the management of social responsibility and which has nothing to do with the self-serving use sometimes made of the ‘ethical’ label. It is a culture strengthened and nurtured day after day by transparent, participatory governance processes which understand how things really are and strive to adapt accordingly. It is a culture which, as I said earlier, views the construction of social justice as the ultimate aim of all our financial undertakings. This is what we do, it is in our nature; we cannot and do not want to do anything else.
As we move down this road together, we need to combine our reactive strategies which aim to reach out to those hit hardest by the crisis. We need to enact proactive strategies focusing on a wide range of different areas, including: furthering the exchange of experiences between members, fostering political advocacy with public entities at different levels, researching new financial circuits, working with allied stakeholders and strengthening the Federation itself.
It is a path which will also require us to become more visible to European citizens, providing clear evidence of what we do and how we do it, and telling stories that will help people understand that another kind of finance is not only possible, it is, today, both necessary and urgent. Our aim is to build a society which accepts that it is its responsibility to understand the consequences of our economic decisions, particularly in the field of finance, as part of a collective effort to build a fairer, more sustainable world.
I cannot conclude without expressing my heartfelt gratitude to the members of the outgoing Board, all of whom have performed their duties impeccably with an exceptionally high level of professionalism and generosity. I would also like to welcome the new members elected on 3 September, particularly those representatives from member organisations that will be taking on this exciting role for the first time. Febea's governance model is one of the hallmarks of our identity, and the Board is one of the key elements in this model, guaranteeing at all times a high level of participation and transparency, based always on a fair balance between professional structure and political management. A special word of welcome also for the new organisations which have recently joined the Federation, who no doubt bring with them new knowledge, valuable experience and a fresh boost of energy.
Although it is true that nothing at the moment is normal, and that the pandemic is generating a great deal of pain and suffering among many people and organisations, we must continue to work in the firm conviction that something important is emerging. Humbly yet staunchly, we hold fast to the belief that our knowhow will help ensure that part of what is emerging will be worthwhile.
Pedro M. Sasia, 
FEBEA Chairman