BETTER FINANCE – the Voice of European Savers and Investors

BETTER FINANCE, the European Federation of Investors and Financial Services Users, is the public interest non-governmental organisation advocating and defending the interests of European citizens as financial services users at European level to lawmakers and the public in order to promote research, information and training on investments, savings and personal finances. It is the one and only European-level organisation solely dedicated to the representation of individual investors, savers and other financial services users.

BETTER FINANCE was founded on the believe that the financial system exists to serve the real economy. For this reason it focusses on restoring confidence in financial markets and promoting an open, transparent, efficient and sustainable real economy served by financial institutions that have the public interest in mind.

BETTER FINANCE acts as an independent financial expertise and advocacy centre to the direct benefit of European financial services users. Since the BETTER FINANCE constituency includes individual and small shareholders, fund and retail investors, savers, pension fund participants, life insurance policy holders, borrowers, and other stakeholders who are independent from the financial industry, it has the best interests of all European citizens at heart.

BETTER FINANCE engages in campaigns to provide relevant information and better protection for end-users, promote market integrity and transparency for retail investors and non-industry stakeholders and establish better governance of financial supervision for all European citizens.

In 2009, for the first time, all types of financial services users such as individual shareholders, fund investors, insurance policy holders, bank savers, pension funds participants, borrowers and others, joined forces to create BETTER FINANCE. Today BETTER FINANCE counts nearly 50, independent, national and international member and sub-member organisations, mainly from EU Member States but also other countries such as Iceland, Norway, Russia, Turkey, Lebanon and Cameroon.

BETTER FINANCE is an ‘Association Sans But Lucratif’ registered in Belgium and is independently funded through membership fees, grants and donations. BETTER FINANCE activities are partly funded by the European Commission. There is no implied endorsement by the EU or the European Commission of work carried out by BETTER FINANCE, which remains the sole responsibility of BETTER FINANCE.

BETTER FINANCE ASBL is registered in the EU Joint Transparency Register under registration n° 24633926420-79.

For further information, please visit www.betterfinance.eu or contact BETTER FINANCE by email at info(at)betterfinance.eu.

New members and supporters are always welcome, so get involved! Join us as a memberfriend, or donate !

Shareholders

Since 2012, BETTER FINANCE is the successor organisation to Euroshareholders, created in 1992 in Brussels to federate the associations of small shareholders throughout Europe.

The protection of the interests of individual shareholders are at the core of the mission of BETTER FINANCE. Individual shareownership of the European economy is very important to ensure an effective and long term financing of the real economy, as well as to improve the corporate governance of listed companies in Europe.Indeed, individual shareholders are mostly by nature long term investors and end-investors: they do bear the risks and rewards of share ownership contrary to “agency” ownership. They can also be “engaged” shareholders provided the exercise and enforcement of their rights are really there.

Unfortunately, financial EU policies have not been favorable overall to the development of individual share ownership in the EU despite the enactment of the EU Shareholders Rights Directive in 2007. As a result, the number of individual shareholders and their share of the EU listed EU companies capital has been going down during the last decades, to the benefit of “agency” ownership: investors who do not bear the risks and rewards of share ownership like investment funds. These agency owners have mostly a much shorter time horizon as demonstrated by their portfolio turnover rates, and charge fees to the beneficial owners.

BETTER FINANCE advocates for a stronger protection of individual shareholders rights.

Other Investors

BETTER FINANCE was created in 2009 following the financial crisis to federate all individual investor organisations in Europe including shareholders but not limited to these. BETTER FINANCE also looks after the interests of investors  in fixed income securities  like bonds, in  investment funds, in  life insurance pension fund well as those investing in bank saving products.

Today, individual investors are mainly offered “packaged” products rather than securities (shares and bonds): 78 % of EU households’ financial assets are held through these packaged investment products (life insurance, pension funds, bank accounts, investment funds). Since the financial crisis of 2008 new EU regulations have improved the protection of individual investors, but Better finance believes much is left to be done to ensure a consistent level of protection, of conduct of business rules and of key information disclosures.

Financial services users

Since 2012, BETTER FINANCE is also looking beyond individual share ownership and  investments to other financial services users such as savers; especially bank savers (35% of EU households’ financial assets are held in bank accounts), life insurance policy holders, pension fund participants, mortgage borrowers, foreign exchange users, credit card holders, etc. BETTER FINANCE brings its expertise of investment and financial matters into these retail issues and cooperates with other consumer and civil society organizations in this field.