Investment and funding criteria
Banking shouldn’t cost the world
Honestly, the world can’t just be divided into good and bad. But we can see when someone leaves a positive footprint rather than scorched earth.
Tomorrow stands for the future - quite literally. We dream of a future in which no one needs to fear for their basic human rights. A future in which everyone has access to clean water, sanitary facilities, safe housing, and medical care. A future in which we use natural resources responsibly and appreciate nature and animals. A future in which fair, sustainable management is the rule, not the exception. A future in which technology unburdens us from all those annoying tasks and enables us to learn new things and follow a purpose. In short, a future in which we all want to live together.
That’s why we base our work on the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, which we have divided into five categories: ensuring basic needs, empowerment, climate protection, nature, and fairness. Only companies and projects contributing to these challenges will be eligible for funding from us.
We assess the company’s current, evident-based ecological, social and ethical performance. Only if the overall assessment is positive, a company can receive funding.
The final evaluation is done by our external Impact Council, whose members are independent and interdisciplinary. Only if they approve of our evaluation the company or project is added to our investment portfolio. This way we ensure that every single investment meets our standards and contributes to solving the complex challenges of our times.
We currently offer a debit account (without interests) and a stock based investment fund. In addition, we invest our customer deposits. Therefore, the following criteria currently apply to all our investments in stocks and bonds. If we add more products to our portfolio in the future, we will further develop these criteria (for example to add criteria for countries and other financial services).
The following positive and negative criteria apply to all our investment decisions and project fundings.
We will continuously refine them in accordance with current advancements in standards and technologies.
We apply the following criteria to the respective company or investment project. In addition, we check that all essential members of the value chain (such as suppliers, sub contractors, investors, and project developers) meet our criteria. We, therefore, ask companies to include respective clauses in their contracts with suppliers and subcontractors.
Money can be part of the solution if we invest it in future-oriented projects. Therefore, we chose companies and industries for investments based on the following positive criteria. Only this way can we safeguard our future in the long run.
Our health is our most valuable asset. We are convinced that all people should have access to high-quality medical care. It is important to us that mental illnesses are taken just as seriously. We value insurances and companies offering special products for undersupplied people (for example new insurance models, production of generic drugs, and gender-based medicine) and thus make medical prevention available and fitting for everyone.
This especially includes investments in hospitals and medical infrastructure as well as funding of innovations in medical technologies (for example in the field of digital health).
We consider companies facilitating illness prevention and holistic healing to be very future-oriented. We see big potential in the development of alternative and complementary medicine as well as in the promotion of physical activity and data-driven individual prevention.
In the world we envision everyone has access to clean water and sanitary facilities. Therefore, we value companies promoting access to water and hygiene. The same applies to companies protecting oceans and solving plastic pollution. We support companies whose management has signed the United Nations’ CEO Water Mandate.
The key to good health and wellbeing is a healthy, balanced diet. Therefore, we demand food production to be nutritious and organic. We consider it particularly positive if food is produced, distributed and sold in line with the EU Eco regulations. We demand from companies to not unnecessarily waste and pollute water and to use antibiotics, pesticides and fungicides responsibly.
Producing food locally and repurposing land raises awareness for diet and wellbeing. Additionally, it promotes healthy eating in informal living areas. In the world we envision urban farming is normal. Therefore, we value companies contributing to this challenge.
Adequate housing (meaning living in security, peace and dignity) is a human right. We want to see companies that support socially disadvantaged groups to live in security and promote measures to make houses and important infrastructure weather resilient.
The housing of the future saves resources and is adapted to the needs of its inhabitants. We consider positive companies promoting environmental-friendly and healthy concepts. This includes energy efficient design, use of sustainable materials, and protection from unhealthy environmental impacts (for example through natural insulation and air filters).
With a growing world population cities are becoming bigger and bigger. We wish for companies which contribute to solving challenges resulting from growing cities, for example by facilitating smart cities or promoting urban manufacturing.
In a digital world data has become a tradable asset. The security of our supply systems relies heavily on technologies. We wish for companies which fight and prevent cyber crime, make our supply systems more secure by using Artificial Intelligence, and take technical risks into account when doing business. Only this way can we protect the functionality of system-relevant infrastructure. Other positive criteria are data protection and the prevention of digital industry espionage and identity theft.
High-quality education is the basis for sustainable development and an improved quality of life. Therefore, we wish for companies which promote an extensive and inclusive access to education.
Therefore, we fund the interdisciplinary transfer of knowledge (politics, NGOs, society, and business) and especially crowdsourcing.
We support companies if they teach people self-sufficiency as well as basic knowledge and skills, for example in the fields of digital technologies, money, and health.
We especially value concepts which promote lifelong learning and digital education and optimize learning environments and methods.
The work of the future is, in our eyes, humane and accessible for everyone. We see the basis for this mainly in responsible working and hiring conditions as defined by the ILO Fair Recruitment Guidelines (2019) and employee satisfaction. An essential aspect in the evaluation are fair living wages: the living wage should provide for some discretionary income. This we define as the wage earned in a standard working week, sufficient to cover one’s own and one's family basic needs. We consider it positive when companies promote professional training for employees (through individual programs adapted to one’s particular needs). We endorse flexible working time models and a maximum average work week of 48 hours for a better work-life balance.
We like to see companies commit to international principles and guidelines, such as Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights or UN Global Compact, to show that they take these topics seriously and help to raise awareness with a greater public.
In the future, health is no longer a private issue. We consider positive companies which support their employees’ health strategically and create and secure jobs for the long term, especially for socially disadvantaged people.
We value it when companies include labor laws and the possibility to complain in their compliance systems. This is, in our eyes, a sign that they consistently promote employee satisfaction. Those systems should include guidelines for handling complaints and violations as well as methods for resolving conflicts. We demand from companies to treat temporary staff equally and, therewith, ensure equal working conditions.
We especially wish for the future that companies will explore new possibilities for (digital) collaboration, such as remote work, co-working, coopetition, and open innovation.
We want to live in a world without any (structural) discrimination. Therefore, we want companies to actively promote diversity in their workforce and make a binding commitment to protect their employees against discrimination. This is best achieved through a zero-tolerance policy against all forms of discrimination, for example based on ethnicity, nationality, gender, religion, age, and sexual orientation. Ideally, this policy includes efforts to prevent psychological damage as well as verbal, physical, and sexual harrasment.
For this purpose, we demand from companies that they implement appropriate guidelines to minimize violations of human rights which people might experience based on their gender.
We can address existing inequalities by structurally supporting individuals with diverse needs, including those who are disadvantaged due to factors such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age, and disability. To achieve this, companies must implement measures that promote equal opportunities for all, including equal access to leadership positions. We encourage and promote, for ourselves and our partners, respect for the general principles stated in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This includes companies to have measures in place which give men and women equal access to leadership positions with measures such as quotas with a target of 40% or training for women specifically designed to increase their representation in leadership positions. We highly value companies which are committed to the Women Empowerment Principles.
In our view, equality goes beyond employees and includes all important stakeholder groups and especially clients. Therefore, we want companies to promote equal and inclusive access to their products and prevent customers from experiencing discrimination. This for example by designing products which cater to specific needs of minorities and with accessibility in mind.
We are strongly convinced that innovative, sustainable business models are the key to a sustainable transformation. Therefore, we want companies to design their products in such a way that they contribute to solving social and ecological challenges.
We see high potential in products which promote equality and empower people to live an autonomous life (for example through financial products for women and microcredits).
We support companies which give everyone access to the internet. The same applies to products which are accessible for everyone by design and can be used intuitively, especially by socially disadvantaged groups (Universal Design).
We already need to start designing our sustainable future today. Therefore, we support companies which promote responsible consumerism (such as natural cosmetics, organic textiles, or alternatives to single-use plastics) as well as social solidarity within societies (such as the sharing and purpose economy). We as well support companies which produce locally, sustainably and/or under fair conditions (such as Fair trade and direct trade).
We as well see high potential in brand new business models, such as Peer to Peer Lending and Pay As You Drive insurances.
In the future, energy needs to be emission-free, ecological, decentralized, and tailored to individual needs. Therefore, we support companies driving the energy transformation through innovations in production, storage, efficiency and distribution of renewable energies. This includes so-called Power to V models, which can store surplus energy for a short period of time, and clean hydrogen.
Other positive measures include efficient resource management systems as well as company-specific reductions of resource and energy use.
In our eyes, digitization can be a big driver for sustainability. Therefore, we especially appreciate it when new technologies such as Blockchain, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things are used to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. We explicitly want to invest in Innovative business ideas combining climate protection and digitization.
We find it very important that ideas are checked in terms of possible rebound effects, as in whether an improved product animates users to use it more often, thereby undoing initial reductions. An example: Someone buys a new car which uses a lot less fuel than the previous one. Therefore, the person uses the car more often. The reduction in CO₂ emissions are canceled out through the higher usage.
To overcome our current challenges we need companies which rethink mobility. They create systems which provide everyone with the possibility to travel in an environmentally-friendly and resource- efficient way. These companies promote collective transport, for example through car sharing, autonomous driving, seamless mobility concepts, emission-free public transport, and alternative means of transport such as bikes. Additionally, we hope for a shift for freight traffic from fossil-based airplanes and trucks to trains or emission-free alternatives.
We value companies which contribute to this transformation.
Fighting global warming is our major goal. We want to push measures and projects enabling a fossil-free, post-carbon economy. We have set ourselves the goal that all our investments need to comply with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Climate Accord as soon as possible. Therefore, we especially invest in companies acting in line with the 1.5°C goal or with concrete reduction targets. This includes that companies either already use renewable energies or will switch to renewables. We demand companies to take responsibility for the ecological footprint of their entire organization and especially their products. This for example by offsetting emissions through Verified Carbon Standard or Certified Emissions Reduction Standards certified measures. Or by developing technologies and products which fight emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.
Additionally, we consider it positively if companies implement and develop extensive environmental management systems or include environmental impacts as criterion in their project assessment (for example in line with GRI Standard).
We deeply care about the wellbeing of all living beings. Therefore, we support companies protecting animal welfare. This explicitly includes companies which provide solutions to replace animal components with alternatives (such as meat substitutes and vegan wool and leather).
Saving resources is a key requirement for a sustainable future and therefore an important task for companies and organizations.
Therefore, we expect companies to assess the environmental impact of big projects. Companies should analyse the overall social and environmental impact, such as on water, biodiversity and supply security for citizens (for example according to GRI Standards such as GRI-412 Human Rights Assessment oder GRI-304 Biodiversity), to act in accordance with the results and provide relief if necessary.
We want companies to commit to international initiatives and principles promoting the responsible use of resources . In their products, we want them to use materials certified according to applicable standards, such as the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas or the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA).
Companies are expected to ensure that neither their own nor their suppliers' production causes any harm to areas requiring protection. This includes High Conservation Value Areas (HCVA), High Carbon Stock (HCS) areas, such as moors and forests, and other protected areas (for example through the Ramsar Convention).
Therefore, we demand from companies to take responsibility for the entire value chain and use phase as well as continuously improve the product life cycle and use efficiency of their products. In the mining industry as well as gas and oil production, we require companies to store their (mineral) waste in a responsible way, implement a risk management system and have zero-error targets in place for final storage.
We especially value circular companies or companies promoting a circular economy (for example through technological innovation and recycling infrastructure).
In particular, we value measures to dematerialize the economy, to develop new materials, and to increase resource efficiency. For example by improving reparability and recyclability of products and reducing single-use plastic. Consequently, we specifically want to support companies promoting a zero waste mindset.
A resource which requires special attention is wood. Forests store a significant amount of CO₂. That's why they are often called our planet’s ‘lungs'. Forestry can not only have a significant negative impact on biodiversity, it as well greatly contributes to global warming.
For this reason, we invest in companies which promote the conservation of forests and biodiversity and have their efforts certified by independent sustainable institutions such as the Forest Stewardship Council.
We consider it to be particularly positive if companies make transparent how their logging impacts global warming (for example by reporting according to the guidelines of the Carbon Disclosure Project) and take countermeasures to reduce or offset said impact. We expect woodbased companies (especially in papermaking) to use chemicals responsibly to reduce negative effects on water and soil.
Human rights are inviolable to us. Therefore, we expect companies to provide evidence that they do not violate human rights if they operate in conflict areas or areas with insufficient legal framework (for example in the fields of social and environmental standards).
The same applies when opening new sites. We expect companies to take impacts on health and environment during operation as well as after closing the facilities into account (for example through rehabilitation of ecosystems).
In addition, we expect companies to actively contribute to a sustainable, economic and social development on a local level. This especially to empower emerging countries and domestic production facilities and businesses.
Companies’ cooperation with domestic small businesses (especially in mining) is a plus as strategic cooperations can promote higher security and health standards. At the same time local structures need to be preserved. Managers should understand local sociocultural structures, for example because they are natives themselves. Additionally, we hope that companies engage in a dialogue with all stakeholder groups inside and outside the organization and give these groups a voice beyond (legal) standards.
We expect companies to have measures in place to prevent negative social or ecological consequences and take responsibility if they happen regardless (for example through whistleblower and reparation programs as well as the empowerment of unions). We especially watch out for the strict compliance with human and labor law, child protection, and nature conservation.
For manufacturing companies, we consider it positively if they promote accident prevention and waste reduction through state-of-the-art technologies and solid emergency guidelines.
Transparent and standardized reporting is crucial for us to come to a reasoned decision. Therefore, we demand from companies:
to report in a transparent way (for example the business group’s structure, tax payments and strategies);
to make their ecological and social impact transparent (for example according to Greenhouse Gas Protocol or GRI Standards);
and to support other companies in their reporting if necessary (through trust technologies).
Reporting according to the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative or the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board is preferred. In addition, we encourage companies to act in line with existing norms and standards and to be certified accordingly (for example GRI, Fairtrade, The 2050 Criteria of the WWF, IUCN or UNESCO). The same applies to the use of raw materials which comply with respective standards or are certified accordingly (for example Sustainable Agriculture Network Standard, Fair trade or Rainforest Alliance).
Generally, we pay special attention to tax honesty and call upon companies to pay taxes in those countries where they mainly operate.
In our eyes, the foundation for a sustainable economy lies in responsible corporate leadership. With this we mean that the companies have, besides the board of directors, an independent supervisory board as well as an independent audit committee. In addition, we expect executive compensations to be made public.
We find it important that companies have extensive management systems in place to deal with corruption, equal pay, legal compliance (especially labour rights), and especially tax evasion. These systems should include own operations as well as activities along the entire value chain.
In addition, we consider it to be positive if companies have incorporated ecological, social and ethical standards in their values and daily business (social business).
Now that we have talked about how we envision the world in the future, we as well need to have a look at what we want to leave behind us. We do not invest in industries which operate at the expense of future generations. The following criteria are strictly exclusionary. We will not invest a single cent in companies and industries which violate these criteria.
We exclude all business areas which massively compromise our health and lives. This includes the production, trade and use of biocides, pesticides, asbestos and fungicides which are especially harmful according to the WHO.
In addition, we exclude the trade and use of human embryonic cells and embryos from our investments.
Intensive livestock farming as well as the processing of meat from very restrictive farming methods (such as battery cages for hens or crates for pigs or calves) are an absolute no go. The same applies to fishing which does not meet the criteria of the Marine Stewardship Council.
In addition, food speculation as well as the use of mineral fertilizer violate our criteria.
We do not tolerate any violation of the core working standards of the International Labour Organization. The elimination of child and forced labor us just as important to us as the elimination of any form of discrimination (for example based on age, gender, origin, political views, or sexual orientation).
Another violation of our criteria is the systematic evasion of minimum safety and health standards.
The promotion of fossil energy and nuclear energy is an absolute no go. This includes companies extracting, trading or producing energy from gas, coal, oil, and uranium in any possible form. The exclusion applies to all companies in the value chain as well. This includes the production of core components for fossil and nuclear power stations as well as the operation of these facilities, as well as the construction of oil- and gas-pipelines.
In addition, we exclude companies which generate more than 15% of their current revenues from supplying the fossil fuel industry.
We refuse any investment in (big) projects with a negative impact on the ecosystem (such as pipelines, water projects, embankment dams, and biogas plants). We follow the Equator Principles and consider further guidelines from for example the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials and the World Commission on Dams. We hold project developers and investors just as much accountable as suppliers and operators.
We consider any fossil-fueled automobile, shipping or aviation company to be part of yesterday’s industries. Therefore, we exclude these as well as their main suppliers.
Companies emitting CO₂ or other pollutants (such as ammoniac, sulfur, and particulate matter) are not eligible for funding unless they have a suitable emission reduction strategy in place.
The exclusion as well applies to the production and trade of organochlorine mass products, fluorocarbon (PFCs) and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). We strongly refer to the regulations of the Stockholm Convention. The exclusion extends to other ozone-depleting and internationally restricted chemicals.
We do not tolerate any violation of the 5 Freedoms of Animals in the production or any sales of products which are suspected of violating said guidelines. This includes, in our view, among others animal transports longer than 8 hours as well as the exploitation for entertainment purposes.
Furthermore, we exclude companies which carry out or commision non-statutory tests with negative consequences for living animals. The same applies to companies whose production, site development and research negatively impact whales and other marine mammals.
In line with the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation any mining and trade of conflict minerals violates our criteria.
In addition, the illegal sourcing of raw materials (such as wood) is inacceptable. So is the use of illegally sourced materials. The exclusion further applies to (forest) areas which are exploited without regard for the rights of the local indigenous population.
We also exclude projects with the aim to convert High Conservation Value Areas (HCVA), High Carbon Stock (HCS) areas and other protected areas (for example through the Ramsar Convention) into land for agriculture, housing, etc. This includes among others moors and forests.
Our policy excludes companies which convert HCS areas in general.
We exclude any companies which release harmful waste in rivers or oceans or whose products contribute substantially to the pollution of waters.
We do not tolerate the purchase of water rights in areas with water scarcity if this worsens the situation. Therefore, we expect companies to analyze the impact on the local water supply extensively before the purchase.
We do not invest in companies which are responsible for deforestation and degradation of natural areas and thus for permanent damage to water and material cycles, soil fertility, and biodiversity. The same applies to practices harming areas protected by the IUCN or other internationally accepted conventions (such as UNESCO World Heritage). Equally inacceptable is the trade and endangerment of animals and plants at the risk of extinction (as per the IUCN Red List and CITIES).
In addition, we exclude production, research and trade of genetically modified organisms, especially genetic material and seeds of animals and plants for agricultural purposes.
In our view, businesses bear a special responsibility towards society. Therefore, we consider any support of anticonstitutional organizations and anti-climate lobbying a violation of our criteria.
The same applies to doing business at risky locations. We define locations as risky if they are occupied according to international humanitarian law or if daily operations or accidents could lead to uncontrollable consequences for the environment and for society.
In addition, we exclude the production and promotion of addictive substances or behavior (such as tobacco, alcohol, and gambling) as well as controversial industries such as pornography.
We also exclude activities that do not comply with the FPIC (Free Prior and Informed Consent) principle from the United Nations Human Rights. Consultation and participation are essential components particularly when it comes to legislation, projects or policies that affect indigenous peoples and their rights.
We exclude any company without transparent reporting in regards of the following financial and nonfinancial aspects. Reporting should be in line with GRI principles and must contain:
direct and indirect emission of greenhouse gases
financial owner of the company, employed full-time representatives, and complete business structure (including joint ventures and indirect investments)
political activities (lobbying and involvement in political decision making)
revenues and profits
tax payments, per country and including company-specific tax rates and subsidies
outcome of existing court cases
We require companies to comply with gender, women and labor rights as well as with environmental regulations, data protection regulations, and relevant international conventions, such as the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity. We do not tolerate violations of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights or the International humanitarian law.
Equally unacceptable is the illegal acquisition of land and natural resources, meaning without the informed and voluntary consent of the affected population.
We condemn any form of corruption and the use of improper benefits. This includes offering, promising and receiving bribes.
The same applies to illegal business practices such as accounting fraud, price fixing, tax fraud, and especially tax evasion. We demand companies, holdings and subsidiaries based in tax havens to justify this choice in their reporting. This means that we expect companies to make all business activities, owners as well as the specific reasons for choosing this location transparent in their reporting.
In short, any violation of legal obligations and universally accepted standards of fair conduct is intolerable. In this case, companies will not be eligible for funding.
We strictly exclude any investments in arms and military goods which could harm humans. This includes firearms, cluster munition and lethal autonomous weapons (LAWs) as well as overall weapons and radar systems, autonomous or artificially intelligent robots and other additional technical services, materials or substances which is capable of producing great bodily harm or death from the manner it is used or intended to be used.
Production, trade and use of armaments and weapons is intolerable. The same applies to pre-production and services specifically for the arms industry. This criterion applies explicitly to products or services essential for military purposes even in the case of companies that produce dual-use goods as listed on the EU’s common military list and also sell to non-civilian end users.