Finance Watch is a public interest association dedicated to making finance work for the good of society.
Our mission is to strengthen the voice of society in the reform of financial regulation by conducting advocacy and presenting public interest arguments to lawmakers and the public as a counterweight to the private interest lobbying of the financial industry.
Finance Watch works according to the following principles from its Articles of Association:
- The financial industry plays an important role in allocating capital, coping with risk and providing financial services and this role has strong public interest implications.
- The essential role of the financial system is to allocate capital to productive use in a transparent and sustainable manner.
- The purpose of finance is to serve the real economy. The situation where the economy becomes subordinated to finance must be rejected because it is destructive of economic and social structures.
- Whilst profitability constitutes both a legitimate objective and a necessary condition for the sustainability of financial institutions, the pursuit of profitability should not be conducted to the detriment of public interest.
- The transfer of credit risk to society at large is not acceptable.
- The general objective of Finance Watch is an economic organisation of society where the needs of the real economy to have access to capital and to financial services are fulfilled in a sustainable, equitable and transparent manner.
How we work
Finance Watch’s Members and staff carry out the following activities:
- Research: analyzing European legislative proposals from a public interest perspective and preparing consultation responses, position papers, reports and other publications.
- Coordination: ensuring that the wealth of expertise among Members is shared through working groups and research projects.
- Communication: gaining press and broadcast coverage and other exposure to communicate our views as widely as possible in the public realm.
- Advocacy: maintaining a dialogue with legislators, elected officials, administrative authorities and regulators on relevant dossiers in the European legislature.
Members include 40+ organisations from a dozen different countries as well as 25+ finance specialists and academics. Finance Watch acts as a clearing house for their expert knowledge by organizing working groups as it develops legislative responses.
Our staff is a small but growing team of finance professionals, communication specialists and lobbyists who carry out the core activities of Finance Watch.
In the summer of 2010, some Members of the European Parliament noticed that they had become inundated with requests to meet representatives of the financial industry. At the same time, they were dealing with ever more technical financial legislation coming through Brussels in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008.
This group of 22 MEPs became concerned that an asymmetry of lobbying could lead to undemocratic outcomes as reform proposals were altered by the industry lobby on their way to becoming law. They therefore launched a cross-party call for action in July 2010, which become known as the “Initial Call for a Finance Watch”.
Their petition found strong support in Brussels and beyond. In the next five months it gathered more than 160 signatures from officials and elected representatives from a wide range of political parties and Member States in Europe.
In December 2010, the MEPs funded a six-month position to investigate whether a new, independent body could be created to improve the way civil society’s voices were represented in the legislature on matters of financial reform. This led to more than 120 meetings with representatives of civil society and other organisations and eventually to a set of concrete proposals for Finance Watch.
Finance Watch was registered on 28 April 2011 as an Association Internationale Sans But Lucratif (non–profit international association) under Belgian law and held its founding General Assembly in Brussels on 30 June 2011 to elect its Board and appoint a Secretary General (see press release).