Our mission

Finance Watch’s 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.

Finance Watch advocates for reforms to stabilise and democratise markets, redirect capital toward public goods, and protect against systemic risks.

The expertise of our team, partly composed of ex-finance professionals, combined with that of our members across Europe, give us the strength and legitimacy to counterbalance arguments in favour of maintaining the status-quo too often presented by the financial lobby.

Discover Finance Watch vision

What we do

Research

Develop a vision for finance to serve society. Review EU legislation and propose new policies.

Advocacy

Interact with policymakers to bring about change. Debunk misleading arguments from the financial lobby.

Network

Connect a network of NGOs and expert members across Europe. Build capacity in civil society tospeak up on finance.

Communication

Illustrate how the financial system impacts society. Explain the mechanisms of finance in an accessible way.

Campaigns

Organise our members around collective targets. Mobilise citizens to increase pressure for change.

What do we want to change

Threat to public finances

Stable

a resilient and diversified financial system

Enabling climate crisis

Sustainable

a redirection of financial flows

Worsening inequalities

Fair

access for everybody

Betting, not investing

Democratic

a balanced representation

Threat to public finances

Stable

a resilient and diversified financial system

Enabling climate crisis

Sustainable

a redirection of financial flows

Worsening inequalities

Fair

access for everybody

Betting, not investing

Democratic

a balanced representation

Our members

We are an association of non-profit members from Europe and beyond.

Finance Watch’s members include consumer groups, housing associations, trade unions, NGOs, financial experts, academics and other civil society groups that collectively represent a large number of European citizens.

Members meet regularly to coordinate actions on financial reform. In some countries, such as France, Germany or Italy, Finance Watch’s members have structured their activities as a national network

Meet the members

Governance & funding

Finance Watch is committed to transparency, independence and good governance. The governance structure – described in detail in our articles of association has been designed with these values in mind.

Governance & funding
Finance Watch's mission is summed up in our motto, "Making finance serve society". Our vision is for a sustainable financial system that serves society and is founded on investing and not betting.

Making finance serve society

Our story

  • 2022
  • 2021
  • 2020
  • 2019
  • 2018
  • Efin joins Finance Watch
  • 2017
  • 2016
  • 2015
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2011 - 2012: Founding years
  • Prerequisites to making finance serve society
  • 2010: the decisive "Call for a Finance Watch"

2022

Twelve years after its creation, the association is thriving. As Finance Watch consolidates its policy leadership and impact, membership has grown to 111 members across 21 EU countries.

Finance Watch advocated for financial protections for poor households; pushed back on the myth that Member States cannot afford to invest in the future; called for upgrading the prudential rulebook to integrate climate risk; and pushed for the redirection of bank and insurance capital away from investments in environmentally-damaging projects.

Read the 2022 Annual Report.

2021

Finance Watch advocated for policy proposals calling for a post-Covid-lockdown recovery.

Finance Watch spearheaded a coalition of NGOs, trade unions, and think tanks for the “Rethink the Recovery” campaign and co-hosted “Fiscal Matters,” a week of online debates with over 800 participants.

Publications highlighted consumer credit malpractices and the financial barriers faced by pensioners in the EU, as well as exposed the link between financial instability and the insurance sector.

Read the 2021 Annual Report.

2020

Finance Watch reached its 10-year milestone, just in time to confront the emerging coronavirus pandemic.

Throughout the coronavirus lockdown and restrictions on travel, Finance Watch never wavered from its mission to deliver urgently-needed reforms to the financial system. Despite the pandemic, Finance Watch strengthened its national networks and grew its membership and secretariat.

Finance Watch recruited new communications experts and policy research analysts specialised in insurance, sustainable finance, prudential and fiscal rules.

Read the 2020 Annual Report.

2019

Finance Watch’s Annual Report 2019 described the continuous expansion of the Finance Watch membership, our involvement in decisive legislative European processes such as the European sustainable finance strategy and the return of Thierry Philipponnat as Head of Research and Advocacy.

Read the 2019 Annual Report.

2018

Finance Watch broadened its civil society network to gain more and more support for its demands for more fundamental reforms of the financial sector.

Key positions and publications linked to the EU’s legislative agenda such as sustainable finance, fintech, non-performing loans, the pan-European personal pension product, and Brexit.

The ten-year anniversary of the global financial crisis in September 2018 was a good moment to alert the media and citizens to how little has fundamentally changed in the financial system; Finance Watch’s report, “Ten Years After: Back to Business as Usual”, contained a critical assessment of post-crisis financial regulation in Europe and gained EU wide media coverage.

Read the 2018 Annual Report.

Efin joins Finance Watch

The European Financial Inclusion Network activities were transferred to Finance Watch on the 13th of June 2018. EFIN’s publications can be found in the Financial Inclusion section of our Policy & Regulation portal, including elements of a bibliography on financial inclusion.

For reference, EFIN’s official documentation can be downloaded here:

Annual reports20172016201520142013201220112009-2010

Newsletters 2017: Special edition on Brexit, December, October & November, SeptemberJune, May, April, March, February, January

Newsletters 2016: December, November, October, May, April, March

EFIN members as of last day of activity: Download list

EFIN official act of dissolution (2018)

2017

In the 2017 annual report, Finance Watch described its activities for that year and plans for 2018 to promote public interest outcomes in financial reform, including a commentary on ongoing policy debates around bank regulation, pension reform, consumer protection and sustainable finance, among others.

Read the 2017 Annual Report.

2016

In 2016, Finance Watch had 48 civil society Members from 12 European countries and more than 30,000 supporters from the general public.

The team attended 131 meetings with policymakers, prepared 18 consultation responses, public hearings and reports, organised two public conferences, and were cited on social media and in the press on a wide variety of issues.

Read the 2016 Annual Report

2015

Finance Watch’s 2015 Annual Report set out the association’s achievements in 2015 and challenges for 2016, including work on MiFID II, Capital Markets Union, Better Regulation, bank bail-in, climate finance, fundraising, expanding the civil society network working on European financial reform, and the changing political climate for financial reform, among other things.

Read the 2015 Annual Report

2014

Finance Watch 2014 report described our public interest advocacy on a variety of EU legislative and non-legislative dossiers in 2014, as well as provided updates on our governance, funding and operational activities during that year.

Read the 2014 Annual Report

2013

Finance Watch published its annual report for 2013.

Read the 2013 Annual Report.

2011 - 2012: Founding years

Finance Watch was registered on 28 April 2011 as an Association Internationale Sans But Lucratif (international non–profit association) under Belgian law and held its founding general assembly in Brussels on 30 June 2011, where members adopted the association’s statutes and elected the Finance Watch Board. The Board appointed Thierry Philipponnat as the organisation’s first Secretary General.

The first Finance Watch Annual Report covered activities over the period from the creation of the organisation in June 2011 until December 2012. It is also available in German.

Read the 2011 Annual Report in [EN] and [DE].

Prerequisites to making finance serve society

Finance Watch’s mission is summed up in our motto, “making finance serve society”.

Our vision is for a sustainable financial system that serves society and is founded on investing and not betting.

We would like to see:
– banking systems that are resilient and effective, directing credit to productive use without extracting economic rents or transferring credit risks to society, and
– financial markets that encourage productive investment in the real economy and discourage excessive or harmful types of speculation.

Before either of these can happen, our political leaders and civil society must act together to break the dominance of the powerful financial industry lobby.

Finance Watch is working to share this vision with the public, regulators, political representatives, academics, think tanks, the media and economists, as well as the bankers and business leaders of tomorrow.

We see the following measures as essential steps towards realising our vision:
– reduce the overall level of financialisation of society
– reduce the costs of intermediation by the financial industry
– build a resilient banking system that serves society and is not founded on moral hazard (including under a Banking Union)
– raise awareness of the policy implications of credit- and money-creation by the banking sector
– build a financial system geared towards sustainable investing
– limit excessive speculation, such as commodity speculation and high-frequency trading
– channel savings into sustainable long-term investments in the real economy
– regulate the financial sector effectively
– protect the interests of the general public
– restore ethical behaviour to the actors of the banking and financial sectors

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.

2010: the decisive "Call for a Finance Watch"

In the summer of 2010, a group of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) noticed that they were being inundated with requests to meet representatives of the financial industry. At the same time, they were dealing with increasingly technical financial legislation coming through Brussels in the wake of the financial crisis that began in 2007.

This cross-party group of 22 MEPs became concerned that an imbalance in lobbying could lead to undemocratic outcomes as reform proposals were reshaped or weakened by the industry lobby on their way to becoming law. They therefore launched a call for action in July 2010, entitled “Call for a Finance Watch“.

Their petition found strong support in Brussels and beyond. In the next five months, nearly 200 national politicians and MEPs from a wide range of political parties and EU member states signed up to the call. The list of signatories is available here.

In December 2010, some of the initial group of MEPs funded a six-month project to investigate whether a new, independent body could be created to improve the way the interests of ordinary citizens were represented in the debate on the future of financial regulation. Over the course of more than 120 meetings with representatives of civil society and other organisations, a set of concrete proposals for Finance Watch was drawn up.