Material topics

In our last materiality assessment survey that was carried out in 2020, we set out to learn how our stakeholders perceive our performance vis-à-vis our strategic topics and whether they see new risks and opportunities that might be of importance to FMO. We identified nine topics that we need to pay closer attention to. These were published in our 2020 annual report.

In 2021, we performed an update using the 2020 survey as our point of departure. We conducted interviews with our internal stakeholder account managers and focal points. We asked them to identify any major shifts in how our stakeholders would rate our performance on the current topics, identify the topics that currently matter most to them and share insights into new opportunities and risks. Our approach is to focus in particular on those material topics that receive a lower performance rating in the 2020 survey (see heatmap) or those that our stakeholders signal as main risks or opportunities. For instance, we know that ESG is of key importance for most of our stakeholders. However, our stakeholder performance rating on ESG is positive. Therefore, while we aim to maintain that level of performance, it is not a topic that warrants extra attention at this point. The topics were reviewed internally and approved by the management board. 

It should be noted, that this year’s assessment is based on interviews with stakeholder account managers within FMO. Outcomes are based on their interpretation of their conversations with stakeholders over the course of 2021 and while they could present be slightly biased we believe they are indicative of trends. The stakeholder dialogue section includes more information on how we interacted with our stakeholders.

Topics needing particular focus

Most of the topics we identified in the 2020 assessment remained relevant in 2021. It did appear that stakeholders believe that our performance against our strategy is not as strong. Our commitments and investments contributing to climate action seem to be perceived more favorably than last year. The topic COVID-19-effects/supporting economic recovery was less prominent in this year’s assessment. We assume this is because we now know more about the effects of the pandemic and have gained more experience in how to respond across our business lines. That said, COVID-19 continued to affect our business through 2021 and we will continue to monitor how the pandemic affects our operations and markets.

Stakeholders felt other emerging topics warranted closer attention. These include investing more in fragile states, which was flagged as a key opportunity to drive development impact. We group this topic together with our strategic focus on reducing inequality. Being a responsible, transparent and accountable bank has increased in importance compared to last year. Given that our performance rating on this topic in 2020 was fairly low we decided to give this topic more attention. Finally, staying compliant with regulatory developments was identified as a new risk and is therefore included in our list of material focus topics.

In sum, taking into account the unchanged topics from last year and the three additions of this year's assessment update, we identified the following 11 topics that require particular attention. 

  • COVID 19-effects/supporting economic recovery

  • Combating climate change and its impacts

  • Reducing inequality (with greater focus on fragile states in 2021) 

  • Supporting customers to safeguard human rights

  • Supporting women’s economic empowerment

  • Measuring impact & learning from evaluations

  • Investing in innovation

  • Ensure employee engagement, health & well-being

  • Maintaining financial sustainability and risk appetite of FMO – with a focus on investment & country risks

  • Being a responsible, transparent, and accountable bank (greater focus in 2021)

  • Being compliant in a changing regulatory environment (greater focus in 2021)