Corporate responsibility

Bridging the gap in the financial ecosystem

B2Holding is a vital part of the credit ecosystem, bridging the gap between the lending industry and individuals and company borrowers unable to meet their obligations. This is a challenge for all parties in the ecosystem: for the lending industry which does not get paid; social aspects for individuals in financial difficulties; the survival basis for companies employing individuals, and thus; ripple effects for the society as a whole.

B2Holding ASA (“the Company”) is the parent company of the B2Holding consolidated group of companies described below as “the Group” or “B2Holding”. The Corporate responsibility report is an integral part of the Directors’ Report

Since its inception in 2011, B2Holding has purchased non-performing debt for EUR 2.2 billion, thereby transforming non-performing assets in exchange for cash and enabling vendors in the countries where the Group operates to lend out new funds to individuals and companies, in turn safeguarding the economy and social welfare of the local society.

B2Holding has since 2017 undertaken a materiality assessment to identify the topics of highest importance for stakeholders’ concerns and the company’s risk and opportunities. The materiality assessment is based on the Global Reporting Initiative Standards principle with the aim to conduct the business in line with the UN Global Compact initiative.

Our approach to sustainability

B2Holding believes that corporate responsibility will have consequences for the Group’s financial performance and long-term value creation and is committed to acting sustainably. This means safeguarding a respectful treatment of customers and partners through transparent dialogue, compliance with all regulations, following the ethical guidelines, raising the awareness of any negative impact on environmental footprint and safeguarding the Group’s commitment to offer the employees equal opportunities and professional growth in a healthy and safe working environment. B2Holding also wants to maintain and build long term relations and be regarded as a trustworthy and qualified partner in dialogue with local authorities. This is an important part of the corporate social responsibility and this report shall reflect what kind of company B2Holding strives to be.

As of October 2019, the Group’s approach to and work with corporate social responsibility and environmental issues was attributed to the Head of Corporate Development in the Group Executive management. This function will coordinate the Group’s sustainability initiatives and be responsible for planning, implementing, following-up and the further development of the Group’s sustainability programme.

The Group’s stakeholder groups are varied. The four stakeholder groups considered to be of special importance are:

  • customers; the debtors struggling with indebtedness
  • business partners and financial vendors; trusting B2Holding to treat their customers fairly
  • investors (lenders and shareholders); who support B2Holding and enable further development
  • employees; the Group’s most valuable resource

The Group meets its stakeholders in different arenas with the purpose of identifying which issues individual stakeholders consider to be the most significant for the Group. The assessment of relevant matters is based on what the stakeholders are concerned about and the consequences for the Group if it fails to meet the stakeholders’ expectations.

The materiality analysis shown as part of this report and includes all topics identified, while the topics above the marked line are regarded as most material to both B2Holding and the stakeholders. This report covers global activities in the B2Holding Group as well as in majority-owned subsidiaries and in the parent company, B2Holding ASA.

Our focus areas are ranged in the following three categories:

Fair treatment of debtors

Materiality rationale

B2Holding is committed to treat all debtors with dignity and respect in the same way as one would meet a customer. Therefore, B2Holding refers to the debtors as customers.

Ethical, sustainable and responsible services for customers are of key importance for the Group. B2Holding values strong partnerships with vendors and their customers and find that fair treatment of debtors is a prerequisite for building a good and long relationship with vendors.

The basic approach

The Group acquire non-performing loans from banks and financial institutions and work with the individual debtors through local in-house collection platforms, or in the case of secured loans with recovery resources. This gives the Group an opportunity to be more flexible towards the debtors, meaning to find an amicable solution and help them to re-gain financial creditability which is in the best interest of the customer. The local presence is an advantage and each employee has the responsibility to ensure an ethical, respectful and solution-oriented approach is taken to support a positive customer experience.

Being flexible also means empowering the employees, giving them an appropriate mandate, trusting them to act with integrity and perform good judgement and handle difficult situations that may arise.  Along with applicable laws, policies and procedures, the Group’s Code of Conduct sets the overall standard on what is and what is not acceptable behaviour.

Employees who are in contact with customers need skills and training on how to manage the process from an ethical and human perspective. To be able to deliver on this expectation, it is not enough only to recruit the right people. Setting the standard at the top by involving the senior management at all levels in the Group is also essential.

Main achievements and target

In the collection and recovery practice as well as in the development of services, training and handling of complaints, B2Holding is focused on respecting the customer and finding amicable solutions.

With the digitalisation of the financial industry, new online customer portals are implemented with easy payments modules as well as access to more effective tools for simplified communication. This enables the Group to improve its ability to find amicable solutions. By logging in to an online personal account, the debtor can quickly find the details of his or her debt. This is available in Poland, Finland and Spain and will be available in other countries in the near future. In Poland, we have also started customer-dialogue with chatbots both online and by telephone. The purpose is to increase the Group’s availability towards customers, giving them the possibility to be more self-administered so that they can get in contact whenever they want via the channel that they prefer. B2Holding will work continuously with the target to improve the proportion of amicable solutions.


Engaging in anti-corruption and other financial crime

Materiality rationale

B2Holding defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for illegitimate personal benefits or private gain and has a zero-tolerance policy against corruption. This involves both financial and non-financial benefits. The Group’s attitude towards corruption is communicated through the Code of Conduct.

The Group has operations in countries that are perceived to be in the upper and lower part of the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for 2019, with Finland ranking 3 of 180 and Bulgaria ranking 74 of 180 (but improving).

For the Group, the corruption risk is assessed to a large extent to be related to the acquisition of portfolios or disinvestments of mortgages or loan receivables, when these are not sold through regulated channels. Such sales are remedied by guidelines of the authorisation hierarchy and the application of the “four-eyes principle”.

The basic approach

In order to ensure a common set of rules and understanding throughout the Group, the Board of Directors has provided guidelines in the Code of Conduct applicable for all business. The Heads of Unsecured and Secured Asset Management in combination with the local country managers, are responsible for establishing adequate and effective procedures in their business units to prevent and uncover irregularities or fraudulent behaviour such as corruption and money laundering.

Main achievements and targets

In most of the countries where the Group operates, B2Holding is obligated to set up a reporting channel for whistleblowing. Group policies on whistleblowing, third-party checks, anti-corruption and anti-money laundering have been approved by the Board of Directors in 2019. The implementation programme involves dilemma training to raise awareness and to encourage employees to notify about any and all censurable matters that they are or become aware of. The Board of Directors in B2Holding ASA has provided a policy saying that all companies within the Group shall give the whistleblower the same rights and protections, irrespective of whether this is regulated by local law or not.

B2Holding expects and encourage its business units to focus on conducting effective compliance risk assessments to ensure a risk-based approach to combat financial crime.

The goal for 2020 is to establish an external whistleblowing channel with the possibility of anonymous notification applicable to the entire Group as a tool in combating corruption, money laundering and other types of financial crime, harassment, or other inappropriate behaviour.

The overall goal is to be regarded as a preferred creditor for the customer despite that the customer is not able to choose their creditor. Treating them as customers set the priority for how the Group communicate at all levels of the organization.

Debtor satisfaction

Materiality rationale

B2Holding acknowledges that due to various reasons, the debt collection industry may have a reputation hurdle to overcome in many countries. B2Holding aims to change that by building positive relations and demonstrating respect for its customers, meeting and treating them with dignity and through constructive and transparent dialogue. The overall goal is to be regarded as a preferred creditor for the customer despite that the customer is not able to choose their creditor. Treating them as customers sets the priorities for how the Group communicate at all levels of the organization.

Being a debt servicing company with few complaints is a key measure of success and highly relevant for the business partners when considering entering into long-term agreements with B2Holding. This will also apply for forward flow agreements and joint venture arrangements. An increased number of new and the extension of existing forward flow contracts confirm a trustful and a balanced business relationship with a financial vendor.

The basic approach

The debtors’ dissatisfaction with B2Holding’s collection methods and principles can be expressed through complaints to our local companies, local authorities, local collection associations, consumer protection organisations, e-mails to Group Management as well as directly to employees. B2Holding differentiates between disputes and complaints where complaints are defined as non-compliant collection methods and violations of industry good practice. The Group is measuring the feedback received both orally and in writing through all kind of channels. The number of complaints provides an indication of how well the Group’s companies have performed on B2Holding’s goal of being a preferred creditor and a preferred business partner.

Local compliance functions have access to and monitor the relevant companies’ complaints register to ensure that all complaints are dealt with properly and address any recurring or systematic problems. In some circumstances, complaints may develop into a reportable incident. The complaint system in each subsidiary will depend on local regulations.

Main achievements and targets

The goal for 2019 was to keep the number of complaints on the same low level as in 2018. In 2019, the number of complaints represented 0.001 % of the total number of claims, which is in line with the previous year.

B2Holding believes that the strategy of controlling all parts of the value chain by primarily using in-house collection and recovery agencies and own call centres, is a key element for this success and will continue to keep the number of complaints on a low level.

For further improvement of the collection practice, the Group also aims to assess the voices from those not filing a complaint which can be measured by the degree of adaptation to new electronic payments portals described above.

In 2020, B2Holding will discuss with selected major platforms, what methods could be employed to receive such feedback on a wider level.



Materiality rationale

With more than seven million individual customers in the loan portfolios, privacy is of highest importance to the customers. It is also highly prioritised within the Group to be compliant with the privacy regulations and in a professional manner to facilitate for the customer’s possibility to exercise their rights according to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The basic approach

Group policies approved by the Board of Directors and the resulting Group routines provide detailed guidelines on how employees people shall process personal data. All employees are bound by confidentiality statements about all matters related to customers.

B2Holding do not obtain personal data not necessary to conduct the services, and any access to debtors’ personal database shall only be granted to employees who need it in the course of their work tasks. These rules are among the general privacy principles.

All business units and the parent company have privacy statements available on their dedicated websites. During 2019 the Group was not subject to any financial sanctions related to privacy regulations in any country.

Main achievements and targets

All business units have an employee responsible for privacy compliance in their local unit. Where dedicated Data Protection Officers (DPOs) are required, the requirement is fulfilled. When necessary, they are in contact with the local data protection authorities and with data subjects who have inquiries related to processing of their personal data.

All business units have installed IT-solutions which ensure compliance with the requirements for e.g. data subject’s right to access, storage, backup solution and deletion. Data protection training has been given to all relevant employees as a part of the regular training program.

The Group’s GDPR project is now an ongoing program with annual audits, reporting and monitoring through operational, IT and Compliance functions internally.

The first group-wide employee satisfaction survey was conducted in March 2019 with a response rate of 88 % on Group level which is higher than the average response rate for similar type of surveys.

Fair wages and working conditions

Materiality rationale

B2Holding aims to take care of the most valuable assets and stakeholders – the employees – and to ensure that they are paid fairly and have safe and good working conditions. The industry is known to have a high employee turnover rate, and B2Holding believes that to continuously invest in employees through training, ensuring a good working environment and fair conditions can give the Group an advantage as an employer. Fair wages, equal opportunities and professional growth in a safe and healthy working environment should lead to lower sick leave and increased satisfaction among employees.

A fundamental principle in the Group’s determination of total remuneration for its management is that the terms are to be competitive with terms in positions with similar responsibility, workload and complexity in the local markets. Reward markets are local, and the Group adapts to the local market practice to the extent the Group find an expedient.

The basic approach

With a large workforce, comprising people working both full and part-time, B2Holding find the focus on decent labour practices, safe working conditions, freedom of organisation and anti-discrimination to be vital for the Group. In order to secure similar conditions throughout the Group, procedures and best practice for recruitment, onboarding, appraisals, training, career development and also the exit process are implemented.

The first group-wide employee satisfaction survey was conducted in March 2019 with a response rate of 88 % on Group level which is higher than the average response rate for similar type of surveys (85 %). The survey was conducted by an external company on an anonymous and confidential basis giving balanced feedback and a tool for local improvement plans. The survey reflected employee engagement, enablement and effectiveness compared with external benchmark and with the possibility to address non-compliant behaviour. The survey’s highest response rate was in the Baltics and the response rate in the larger countries including Spain, Poland and Romania was also fully satisfactory. The survey will be repeated on a regular basis.

Main achievements and targets

The employee satisfaction survey gave valuable information about the employees and their satisfaction with B2Holding as an employer. The Group achieved an aggregated positive satisfaction score of 72 %. Following the survey, each country received feedback for their unit and actions plans to be initiated in cooperation with employee representatives, with an overall goal to improve the employee satisfaction in the Group over time.

B2Holding aims to pay equal salaries for equal work and performance regardless of gender. The Group will continue to pay salaries based on achievements and will work continuously to eliminate gaps due to gender or other dimensions of diversity.

As the Group is shifting its focus from strong growth to professionalisation, it is adjusting the people strategy accordingly. The entities range from newly established to mature organisations, and by centralising the people strategy we achieve more transparency and learning across units. The people strategy has four main pillars aimed at building a common culture through consistent behaviour, programs and processes: talent, engagement, performance development and leadership skills. As part of the strategic activities, B2Holding will invest in and implement an eLearning platform in 2020. All subsidiaries shall always make the effort to facilitate for individuals who need adjustable workstations, different tasks or flexible working hours.


Developing our employees

Materiality rationale

B2Holding aims to be a workplace where all employees thrive and are given opportunities for professional development.

To give employees the opportunity to use their abilities, develop their skills and be part of a larger group are, in B2Holding’s view, components for success. To invest in the employees is also expected to result in a lower turnover rate, which eventually should impact our performance. At year-end 2019, the Group had a total of 2,781 employees of which 1,857 (67 %) women and 924 (33 %) men.

The basic approach

B2Holding has conducted several activities aimed at developing employees. The Group has experienced that sharing creative and innovative ideas also provide employees with an increased knowledge base in their daily work.

In Central Europe, the Group has experience with an internal talent and management program where the main goal is to motivate, develop and invest in young talents in the Group. In the coming years, the Group will use this experience and develop similar programs to involve and motivate talented employees in all countries. The goal is to build strong leaders and a Group culture with skilled managers who will transfer their knowledge to others.

Main achievements and targets

Through Group projects, the Group has developed policies, procedures and recommendations within IT, valuations and transactions, compliance and GDPR, and HR.

After introducing the internal communication platform Workplace (internally named B2Gether) in 2018, the Group has experienced extended collaboration, innovation and knowledge sharing among employees across the Group. The organization spend less time arranging meetings and sending e-mails, instead online groups are used to share and discuss ideas, documents and experiences. By the end of 2019, 73 % of all people employed had logged into their account on Workplace (60 % last year). The Workplace platform has become an important tool for all type of cross-border and cross functional communication – including communication from the Group management and with the CEO meeting all employees with the same message at the same time.

As part of the strategic activities, B2Holding will invest in and implement an eLearning platform in 2020. Our future goal is to continue developing B2Holding as a knowledge-based organisation. By sharing knowledge across countries, companies and cultures, we aim to improve the total performance of the Group.


Diversity and anti-discrimination

Materiality rationale

As described in the Code of Conduct, there is a zero-tolerance towards discriminatory behaviour in the Group. B2Holding does not tolerate discrimination based on age, gender, race, political opinion religion or any other characteristics that are not related to people’s merit or the inherent requirements of the position.

Diversity is a strength and is necessary to ensure innovation, to create value and to increase our opportunity to attract the greatest talents. B2Holding is a major employer in several cities in Europe and the Group wants to stand out as a good example when it comes to workplace equality and diversity.

The basic approach

B2Holding seeks to recruit people from different backgrounds, skills, knowledge and perspective to enrich the organization’s diversity. Foremost, B2Holding has worked to increase awareness among managers and for them to develop an understanding of the advantages of diversity.

Main achievements and targets

In the recent years, the Group has raised awareness of gender diversity among all managers. The Group wants to increase the proportion of women within the top management.

The Group Executive Management (GEM) consists of seven men and two women. Among the country managers, approximately 35 % were women by year end 2019. The goal is to continue to increase the proportion of women on management level in the Group.

In 2018 and 2019, the Group participated in the “SHE Index”, a survey intended to gather more facts and motivate companies to work on the leadership gender gap. Such surveys increase the Group’s awareness on gender equality within our top management, and the Group was ranked below average in the survey. Gender balance is an issue that is being addressed in the Group business units with most employees – with a clear plan to promote female leaders.

Environmental statement

The Group’s contribution to society is manifold; from playing a vital part of the credit ecosystem, to local initiatives by employees contributing to a large extent in local care-taking projects, and financial support to organizations for children and underprivileged groups in the communities where the Group operates. The local initiatives are organized by voluntary groups mostly carried out after working hours with various kind of support from the Group.

B2Holding lives by a corporate and collection philosophy which is based on the overriding principles of mutual respect and moral behaviour as embodied in the B2Holding’s Code of Conduct. B2Holding strongly believes that in all aspects of the business, the Group shall treat all people in a fair and reasonable manner regardless of position, including customers, employees, clients and the local public authorities.

B2Holding also considers the impact on the future of our world. The Group strives to minimize the overall environmental impact and carbon footprint with the same level of respect and fairness that the Group’s treat its stakeholders. To that end, B2Holding endeavours to transfer the approach to the stakeholders to the environment and to the world around.

Specific initiatives include:

  • Aiming to achieve a fully paperless operation wherever possible both internally and within the realm of external communications with various stakeholders.
  • The use of renewable energies and resources wherever possible including office power, materials as well as implementing a plastics-free office environment.
  • Require all business locations to maintain waste sorting principles in handling refuse and waste in the operations.
  • Incentivise employees to use public transportation and locate offices close to public transport and in environmentally friendly buildings.
  • Reduce business travels through increased use of digital solutions.

Pursuing a program of continuous improvement by reviewing periodically the environmental management systems and related objectives and targets, policies and practices to ensure a goal of ongoing sustainability and reduction in the overall environmental impact as an organization. The Board of Directors believes that these activities are good investment for the future for being a preferred employer for employees as well as an investment in the world that shall be passed on to new generations.