Belfius bank turned 10 on Friday and has reported record profits for 2021, totalling €935 million – their best results to date. However, behind the veil of success are signs that the business might not be in such good shape.
The bank was purchased by the Belgian State a decade ago and on Thursday posted its best result since its creation. But despite the apparent success, structural problems within the bank are undermining working conditions, according to Financité – the Belgian citizens' federation that campaigns for more equitable financing.
A spokesperson for the organisation called attention to the closure of numerous Belfius branches and cash machines, as well as what they describe as "the refusal of successive governments to put Belfius at the service of society" – which is supposed to be one of the bank's main missions.
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Instead, the bank's management stands accused of leaving decisions up to the logic of the market, driving down customer service and failing to come up with a cogent plan for the ecological transition. As Financité put it in a statement, "these huge profits come at a price."
"Year after year, priority has been given to profit and it is now clear that the bank has moved away from its founding commitment to public service." Furthermore, Financité accused Belfius of favouring its wealthier clients, most notably by closing local branches and cash machines that were so valuable to many individuals.