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Rutte III gives bankers narrow path

In terms of market terms, it was quite a volatile year for the Dutch banking sector, especially ING. In order to turn the role of print off again: at the start of 2018 there was the pay rise for CEO Ralph Hamers (photo) who did not take part anyway, and later there was a fine of € 775 million for failing anti-money laundering systems.

It is high time for the sector to regain social confidence, says minefin Wopke Hoekstra, who is therefore very generous with the terms ‘social role’, ‘core values’ and ‘customer interest’ in his 2019 agenda for the financial sector. After such terminology usually do not follow too exciting proposals and that is now the case again. Hoekstra comes with a law that obliges bankers to hold shares that are part of their remuneration for at least five years. For example, the Minister hopes that the focus will be on a quick price increase in the short term and a quick blow. Measure # 2 is that the Neerlandse major bank has to justify how its remuneration policy relates precisely to ‘its function in the financial sector and its position in society’ – especially for ING.

It is reminiscent of the advice of the Sustainable Finance Lab to ‘anchor’ the public function of banks. Furthermore, Hoekstra will continue to legally examine whether it can reclaim the fixed remuneration of directors of (ex-) state banks. At the end of Q1 2019, the Council of State reports whether the European law is in the way. Finally, the Minister wants to make it more difficult to fall outside the bonus ceiling (= max 20% of the fixed salary), of which time 0.6% of the bank employees now use. The law now states that this is only allowed in ‘exceptional cases’. And with that we are preparing for a 2019 with hopefully less bank accidents, and a bit more awareness.

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