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18 June, 2024
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What role do banks ultimately play?

Beyond the profits, we unveil the societal heartbeat of banks



By Yannis Georgoulas*

Are banks merely financial entities providing a range of services to the public and businesses, solely driven by profit for shareholders? Banks serve as the heart of our economic and social systems, propelling the growth of our country. Without them, many of the projects we see around us wouldn't have materialized, and the cohesion of our society would be at risk, hindering the public's ability to transact, purchase homes or cars, and even impeding the education of families' children.

Banks are indispensable for the smooth functioning of a state, and we are fortunate to have swiftly overcome the previous banking crisis. However, banks bear responsibilities not only to regulators and shareholders but also to society. They must avoid taking excessive risks that could jeopardize economic stability and, at the same time, operate transparently and ethically, considering the social impact of their business decisions. This includes contributing to social progress and improving living conditions in the communities they operate. Additionally, the ethical obligations of banks encompass safeguarding customers' data, preventing illegal use, and supporting sustainable development and environmental protection through investments and corporate social responsibility. Thus, banks are more than just businesses; at their core lies society and sustainability.

Rather than solely focusing on profit, banks must simultaneously emphasize the social impact of their activities. They should provide financial services to vulnerable groups and communities often excluded from the banking system, promoting the financing of social projects and initiatives. Their actions should be based on values of fairness, solidarity, and transparency, thus fostering a more just, transparent, and sustainable society.

*Mr. Yannis Georgoulas is a strategy and business consultant.

[This op-ed was translated from its Greek original and may have been edited for brevity and clarity]

Cyprus  |  banks

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