Business can be a force for good. The key to this is to understand what sustainability means in the context of both business and stakeholders. Aligning business priorities with stakeholders’ expectations is always the starting point. We are also constantly on the look out for opportunities to grow our sustainable business portfolio and at the same time, create net positive impact for our stakeholders. In the process, our long-term motive is to inspire and encourage our customers to embrace sustainability principles and sustainable business practices.
Financial institutions are uniquely positioned to mobilise capital flows for greater good, while meeting business motives. Sustainable financing allows us to design our lending and investment portfolio, with environmental and social considerations, helping the brand operate with resilience and deliver positive impact.
As part of CIMB’s sustainability strategy, we recognise that the sectors we are exposed to through our financing are linked to different types and levels of social and environmental risks. Based on the exposure and more so for high risk sectors, we have institutionalised stronger controls including an enhanced sustainability due diligence process, higher authority levels for approval, and sector-specific guidance documents for our Corporate and Commercial Banking relationship managers.
Group Sustainable Financing Policy (GSFP)
As a responsible financial institution, it is within our remit to manage the risks and potential negative impacts arising from the activities that we finance. We assess how such risks have an impact on the environment, society and the economy in general. Our emphasis is also on devising financing solutions that aid sustainable development, and positively contribute to our economic, environmental and social impacts.
The Group Sustainable Financing Policy serves as a guidance on the mitigation of environmental and social risks in lending decisions.The policy is applicable to our Wholesale and Commercial Banking in relevant geographies across CIMB Group. Sustainability due diligence is required for the bank’s financing facilities with non-individual borrowers from high sustainability risks sectors. High risk cases will undergo enhance sustainability due diligence and these are the thematic issues that we look out for.
Our Exclusion List
Beyond the sustainability due diligence process, CIMB also has an Exclusion List, which includes the first-level screening criteria, where we take a zero-tolerance approach. We do not conduct business with entities that are directly linked (with evidence) to one or more of the following:
bribery and corruption
illegal logging or uncontrolled fire
activities impacting UNESCO World Heritage Sites
political campaigns (directly via government officials, politicians, political candidates or political organisations)
arms and munitions
casino and gaming
There are permitted exemptions for arms and munitions, casino and gaming and activities impacting UNESCO World Heritage Sites subject to stringent criteria and upon escalated approvals.
CIMB has identified certain industries exposed to relatively higher sustainability risks than other sectors. For these industries, we have developed sector guides to help our relationship managers apply our GSFP requirements in a clear and structured manner. CIMB has specified minimum industry-specific requirements for financing clients. If the clients do not meet these minimum criteria at the point of new financing approval or review, a time-bound action plan with reasonable targets for completion are agreed with the client. We also include a list of best practices in our sector guides for selected high sustainability risk sectors to encourage and support clients in their journey to improve their sustainability performance.
Construction & Real Estate
Oil & Gas
Predicated on the philosophy of ‘Banking for the Future’, CIMB endeavours to mobilise investments and capital for sustainable development. As an intermediary, we aim to create net positive impact by bringing to market, purpose-driven financial solutions.
With our Positive Impact Products & Services Framework and new sustainable product offerings, we are striving to improve EES impacts of both our business as well as our clients. We are also committed to work with our industry peers and policy makers to stimulate the emergence and growth of new impact-based business models for our sector.
For more information on how our products create a positive impact, please visit our Sustainable Business and Banking Products pages for individuals and businesses.
As a leading financial institution in ASEAN, CIMB recognises the impacts of its business and decisions on the wellbeing of stakeholders and the environment. CIMB’s commitment is to operate in a way that assumes accountability and responsibility for its actions, whilst minimising negative impacts and creating a net positive impact on people and the planet.
In September 2019, CIMB Bank Berhad (CIMB Bank) issued its first Sustainable Development Goals Bond (SDG Bond). Guided by the CIMB Bank SDG Bond Framework, the net proceeds of the SDG Bond will be channeled into various impactful sectors in line with:
Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
Goal 9: Industry Innovation and Infrastructure
Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities
Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
Goal 13: Climate Action
Goal 15: Life on Land
Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
These include, among others, financing for small and medium-sized enterprises, basic infrastructure such as water supply and distribution network, affordable housing, waste management activities, climate change mitigation and adaptation projects as well as forest restoration. Reviewed by Sustainalytics as a second-party opinion provider, the SDG Bond Framework is deemed as credible and impactful, and aligns with the Green Bond Principles, Social Bond Principles, Sustainability Bond Guidelines 2018 and ASEAN Sustainability Bond Standards.
As a regular issuer in the bond and sukuk market, CIMB strives to ensure its instruments and frameworks continue to reflect the latest sustainability commitments, and market standards as well as expectations. In 2021, the SDG Bond Framework was updated to CIMB Group SDG Bond and Sukuk Framework, with several changes as broadly set out below:
Insertion of a sukuk component to allow for future issuances of Shariah-compliant notes;
Consolidation of the SDG Bond and Sukuk Framework under the Group, i.e. CIMB Group and its subsidiaries including but not limited to CIMB Bank could use the SDG Bond and Sukuk Framework as the basis for future sustainability bonds and/or sukuk to be issued on and after 18 October 2021; and
Inclusion of new forms of eligible assets that could qualify for the use of proceeds of the future sustainability bonds and/or sukuk by the Group.
The CIMB Group SDG Bond and Sukuk Framework was revised and prepared in accordance with the Green Bond Principles, Social Bond Principles, and the Sustainability Bond Guidelines issued by the International Capital Markets Association in June 2021, as well as the ASEAN Green Bond Standards, the ASEAN Social Bond Standards and the ASEAN Sustainability Bond Standards issued by the ASEAN Capital Markets Forum issued in 2018. A second-party opinion on the SDG Bond and Sukuk Framework was obtained from Sustainalytics on 15 October 2021.
Find out more about CIMB’s various SDG Bond/Sukuk Frameworks and their latest progress relating to use of proceeds and impacts:
Solar energy is among the sectors which net proceeds of the SDG Bond were channeled towards.
CIMB’s strategic focus on Customer Centricity is strengthened by the Group’s current Customer Experience (CX) model. All our CX initiatives are premised on our 3Es promise to customers (Making Banking Easy, Efficient and Always Going the Extra Mile).
In keeping with our CX DNA, we have put in place imperatives that focus on Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) in our day-to-day operations. We established and operationalised TCF policy to institutionalise the adoption of fair treatment principles into business and operations.
Our TCF Policy advocates practicing needs-based selling, ensuring transparency, giving suitable advice, being flexible and providing customers a peace of mind. The overall aspiration is to have our customers recognise CIMB as the most trustworthy bank, which embraces high standards of Transparency, Integrity and Conduct.
With sophisticated technologies and digital solutions, banking is expected to be more simple, safe, and convenient. Our efforts are focused on service availability, cyber security, data privacy, innovation and accessibility.
Protecting Data, Security and Privacy of our Customers
We respect the decision of our stakeholders to disclose and trust us with their personal and business data. The collection, use, storage and any communication of such data is appropriately categorised, assessed for potential risks, and is protected throughout the data management life cycle.
The privacy and data protection laws set out requirements for handling personal information. There are two main aspects that guide data privacy and data management:
Use of personal information must be lawful and fair; and
Monitoring of systems and processes to ensure that personal information held is secure and accurate.
Recognising that cyber security is a concern shared by organisations globally, controls are put in place to protect both our customers’ and our business data from cyber threats. In response to this growing risk, we have invested significant resources to protect the security, integrity and confidentiality of our information. For instance, our security architecture integrates sophisticated technology processes by referencing and adopting some of the most recognised international standards, as well as good governance and prudential principles. In addition, all our employees are required to complete compulsory Data Protection and Information Security Awareness e-learning programmes on an annual basis.
Technology is changing the nature of banking, not only for customers but also for organisational capacity. Our response is to make technology accessible, convenient and safe. Through automation and efficient processes, we use technology and data to improve customer experience.
Equipping customers with solutions they need
In aspiring to be an intelligent, personalised, mobile-first bank of choice for our customers, it is our mandate to go beyond the transactional approach and create a lifestyle-centric experience. We are increasingly departing from the traditional product push strategies to a needs-based approach for positioning our solutions and related information. For instance, based on pre-identified criteria such as demographics, lifecycle stage, and customers’ interests, we design our outreach programmes that introduce specific products to customers, such as loans for holidays, weddings, or education.
We are also taking steps to optimise and deploy new digital solutions such as the online digital banking dashboard and proactive digital notifications through our Quasi RoboAdvisory. The focus is on identifying customers, their transaction patterns and risk profiles to offer product and investment solutions to grow their wealth.
A faster and more efficient digital platform
Stability and efficiency are critical for our digital platforms to create a seamless and delightful customer experience. Our online products and development of various digitally-enabled features for CIMB Clicks embody the spirit of Agile. Our focus is to continuously develop new features and test them iteratively across the entire software development lifecycle.
As a result, our customers benefit from the enhanced CIMB Clicks app in Malaysia; new CIMB Thai Digital Banking app as well as CIMB Philippines’ Mobile Banking app, which has onboarded close to 1.7 million customers in its first year of establishment.
Financial knowledge empowers individuals and businesses to manage their finances better, improving their well-being and quality of life. Similarly, financial inclusion will mean an opportunity to bank the underserved and disadvantaged communities and demographics. Our long-term aspiration is to build more resilient and financially secure communities, while also contributing to socio-economic development.
In 2016, CIMB Foundation launched Be$MART, a flagship financial literacy initiative aimed at making communities resilient through efficient and effective financial management.
Catalysing SME Customers
CIMB is committed to supporting the aspirations of the critical mass of SMEs in ASEAN. Our efforts are focused on improving their access to finance, building capacity on sustainability, upskilling them in different areas of management and entrepreneurship and providing them opportunities for expansion and growth.
We are always planning to introduce various SME empowerment initiatives such as the most recent 'The SMEs Sustainable Exporters Programme', which was launched in partnership with the Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE). The programme focuses on equipping export-ready SMEs with sustainability knowledge and skills to enhance their competitiveness as well as their ability to access finance and new growth markets.
CIMB Niaga provides MSME (Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) service loans and believes that MSME credit financing has a positive impact on job creation, poverty reduction and equitable development. Under the Micro Linkage scheme, CIMB Niaga distributes micro loans through various types of financial institutions with a segment of focus on microfinancing for women entrepreneurs.
We believe that SME credit financing has a positive impact on job creation, poverty reduction and equitable development. We provide 3 main types of SME financing: Working Capital Financing, Property Financing and Renewable Energy Financing to support the SMEs growth.
CIMB has introduced a paperless solution that is aimed at making CIMB’s banking offerings more accessible, providing safety and convenience by leveraging digital capabilities to enhance customer experience.
SMEs will now be able to submit financing applications online at CIMB’s Biz Financing Portal. The portal will enable SME customers to upload documents and submit loan applications entirely online, providing convenience by eliminating the need to visit a branch.
CIMB SHINE is a programme that focuses on upskilling SMEs on the potential of digital platforms for attracting new-age digitally-savvy consumers and for accelerating their business success. CIMB SHINE is a platform for start-ups, entrepreneurs and SMEs to equip them with the right knowledge in finance, 4IR and e-commerce.
We are committed to providing access to affordable and sustainable finance not just for the critical mass of SMEs, but also to the communities that are disadvantaged, underserved and underprivileged.
Empowering B40 Communities
Decent housing is a basic human right. We aim to support the bottom 40% (B40) communities to own homes, helping them to improve their financial standing. As part of Bank Negara’s initiative to establish a RM1 billion fund to help low-income communities to buy homes, CIMB is one of the four leading banks to offer low-interest financing for affordable housing.
Digital platforms enable cashless transactions, account-to-account transfers and e-wallets, empowering customers to manage their finances and payments conveniently from any location. We are continuously exploring ways to expand our e-financial segment, which includes the Touch ‘n Go e-wallet app, through our partnership with Alibaba’s Ant Financial Group.
Facilitating Financing for Affordable Housing
CIMB has been supporting PR1MA end-financing to facilitate ownership of homes valued at RM150,000 - RM300,000 among the low-income group since 2016.
Promoting Financial Literacy
Financial Empowerment of Youth
CIMB Niaga has been championing several flagship initiatives such as Ayo Menabung dan Berbagi (AMDB) and Tour de Bank (TDB), where the main objective of these events is to provide a good understanding of banking and related concepts to the community.
AMDB is a programme to increase the financial literacy of students from primary to high school/vocational level. TDB aims to foster financial intelligence and a culture of saving money at a young age through exposure to the activities in the banking industry. Participants visited branch offices to witness various activities of tellers, customer service officers, ATMs and cash deposit machines.
Be$MART is our flagship financial literacy initiative since 2016. Our objective is to make communities resilient through efficient and effective financial management.
We leverage our digital platform to reach out to a wider population, especially to the increasing number of digitally-savvy and active youths across the region. The physical community classroom-style workshops as well as the digital app allow participants to effectively plan their finances, with interactive and practical features such as budget tracking and updating, recurring transactions, goal tracking, as well as scheduled notifications of monthly expenses and upcoming bills.
SimPel is a product launched by the Financial Services Authority of Indonesia (OJK) in keeping with its efforts on financial literacy and inclusion. CIMB Niaga promoted SimPel products in several areas throughout Indonesia, including remote areas of the country.
At CIMB, we understand our customers and the unforeseen circumstances which could render them financially vulnerable. During 2019, we have taken conscious efforts to identify our credit customers whose ability for loan repayment has been compromised due to reasons such as financial distress; unemployment; critical illnesses; disabilities; and death of a primary breadwinner. The objective has been to reach-out to these afflicted customers with either Rescheduled or Restructured Loan arrangements or Compromised Settlements.