New Release! Fair Finance Guide Germany publishes latest policy assessment

23 March 2023

Fair Finance Guide 7.0: While many banks are improving their sustainability policies, they often have policies that are too weak or simply inadequate for the fight against climate change

  • GLS Bank (94%), EthikBank (92%) and newcomer Tomorrow (91%) score best in the sustainability ranking
  • KD-Bank (90%), the Dutch Triodos Bank (88%) and Pax-Bank (83%) also reach the green area (80% +)
  • KD-Bank (+9 percentage points), DekaBank (+9 percentage points), as well as apoBank, BayernLB and HypoVereinsbank (UniCredit) each +7 percentage points show strong improvement. LBBW improves by 5 percentage points (61%).
  • Stadtsparkasse Düsseldorf (+16 percentage points) improves the most, but remains in the red area of the ranking
  • Sparda-Bank West (10%), BayernLB (35%) & DekaBank (36%) find themselves at the bottom of the ranking
  • Measures to prevent corruption are rated satisfactory (75% on average)
  • Gender equality policies for internal operations but especially for financings and investment are still very weak at most banks (on average 45%)
  • Conventional banks often still invest in harmful business models (armament companies and companies violating human rights)

For the seventh time, the Fair Finance Guide Germany (FFG), coordinated by the Berlin-based NGO Facing Finance, has run a policy assessment to ascertain if and how German banks and savings banks are taking human and environmental rights into account. In cooperation with the SÜDWIND Institute and the Bremen Consumer Advice Centre, the FFG reviews the published voluntary commitments of 19 financial institutions on the basis of 286 criteria from 14 themes and sectors with regard to their compliance with internationally recognized sustainability standards. The themes examined are Climate Change, Corruption, Gender Equality, Human and Labour rights, Nature, Taxes and Transparency, as well as the sectors Arms, Food, Forestry, Mining, Oil & Gas and Power Generation.

The aim of the Fair Finance Guide is to create more transparency and comparability for bank customers with regard to the social and ecological balance sheet of German banks and to improve, through continuous dialogue, their guidelines.

"More and more customers want a financial service provider that prioritises sustainability. It is therefore gratifying to see that some banks from North Rhine-Westphalia score well or show significant improvement in some cases," says Christiane Overkamp, Managing Director of the Environment and Development Foundation North Rhine-Westphalia, which supports the Fair Finance Guide Germany with a focus on the North Rhine-Westphalia state.

Once again, the ethical banks GLS Bank (94%), EthikBank (92%) and the newcomer Tomorrow (91%) received the best ratings. However, KD-Bank (90%), the Dutch Triodos Bank (88%) and Pax-Bank (83%) also reach the green area of the ranking (80% +) again.

"An intensive and constructive dialogue with banks is indispensable, as it is the only way for civil society to address regulatory shortcomings and to persuade banks to make more sustainable investment and financing decisions in the long run," says Kleopatra Partalidou, Project Coordinator of the Fair Finance Guide Germany.

"We are pleased that dialogue with the banks is helping to improve sustainability policies. But conventional banks in particular must stop investing in business models that are linked to conflict, such as arms exports or companies that violate human rights and damage the climate," demands Thomas Küchenmeister, Managing Director of the NGO Facing Finance, which coordinates the Fair Finance Guide Germany.

Following sample checks, Deutsche Bank (55), ING (44) and DekaBank (27) were found to have the largest number of controversial financial relationships with arms producers, as well as with companies from various sectors criticized in the report Dirty Profits 9: How much Pain for Corporate Gain? for their involvement in human rights abuses.

While the FFG analysis shows that gender policies have improved slightly on average compared to the previous year (+7 percentage points), these still show the greatest deficits at most banks.

"Also looking at the Oil and Gas sector, the vast majority of conventional banks in Germany continue to perform very poorly, in part because they do not exclude companies with oil and gas expansion plans from their financing and investing, which directly contradicts the goals of the Paris Agreement," adds Kleopatra Partalidou.

"68 per cent of the assessed banks still have very weak or inadequate climate change policies. They are failing to effectively phase out fossil fuels and develop credible climate strategies. In doing so, they are delaying the increasingly urgent transition to a sustainable society and economy for all consumers," comments Dr. Annabel Oelmann, Executive Director of Verbraucherzentrale Bremen.

"The majority of the assessed banks continue to receive less than 50% of possible points in the areas of Human and Labour Rights. Although six banks have implemented comprehensive policies and processes, eleven institutions, including all the large banks, have taken insufficient measures so far. However, if banks do not adequately screen loans or investments for human or labour rights risks, they also fail to record whether their services finance serious human rights violations such as child or forced labour. The fact that the FFG rating has not fundamentally improved over the years shows that politicians must take remedial action: The financial sector must definitely be included in the upcoming European Supply Chain Act," demands Ulrike Lohr of the SÜDWIND Institute.


Access the assessment as well as the reactions of the banks to the assessment by the Fair Finance Guide here.


The review of banks by the Fair Finance Guide Germany with a focus on North Rhine-Westphalia was supported, among others, by the Foundation Environment and Development North Rhine-Westphalia and the Swedish development agency Sida.

For questions and interview requests, please contact:

Thomas Küchenmeister, Managing Director Facing Finance e.V.

Tel: +49 (0)175-4964082