2012 is likely to see all our markets hit to varying extents by the economic crisis. Asia and Africa should be less scathed than Eastern Europe, although the latter should offer ample room for us to grow as some western banks continue to pull out. That tendency among commercial banks to withdraw will in turn require intensified efforts on our part to equal the catalytic effect we had in 2011. For Latin America the outlook is for stable to slow growth, with economies looking set to be dragged down by the still sluggish US economy.
The backbone of our strategy will be to increasingly treat banking as an industry that has a responsibility to society as a whole. The industry is too important to focus on a single bottom line or a limited number of stakeholders. The companies and projects a financial institution finances should not and cannot be detrimental to the society that actually provides the funding to the bank. Moreover, financial institutions are uniquely placed in the center of the economy which allows them to engage in constructive discussions with their clients to improve environmental or social performance. We will actively support the front runners that have identified specific business opportunities in the area environmental or social performance, such as resource efficiency.