To focus our sustainability approach and our reporting on the areas of greatest concern to stakeholders, we annually conduct a materiality process. We assess the non-financial drivers that emerge from this process within a context of global change, which, in turn, inform Deutsche Bank’s approach to risk and opportunity. The topics of greatest concern for internal and external stakeholders in 2016 are plotted on the matrix below:
For each topic, respondents gave their perceived impact on reputation, financial performance, and/or future regulation. We summarized results, with the former two being given a greater weighting than future regulation, and grouped the fields. The mapping above shows the chosen categorization of interrelated subtopics, though it is acknowledged that different categorizations could be achieved with different issue groupings.
The top three topics for our stakeholders in 2016 were:
1. Customer satisfaction / product suitability
2. Financial crime
3. Data security
Stakeholders saw almost all topics as increasing in importance over the next five years, with only employee remuneration remaining static over time. The topics that they saw as gaining prominence over time were data security, innovation and digitalization, effective controls, and prevention of financial crime.
Stakeholders also confirmed that certain global megatrends were important to consider as a context for material topics, namely:
- Climate change
- Financial crime
- Demographic change
- Information security
Our process for defining material topics
Our materiality assessment is part of a wider set of stakeholder engagement processes. We conduct a materiality review annually by actively inviting selected groups to give us feedback on a range of topics that may give rise to environmental, social, or governance impacts. The results reconfirmed the topics the bank focused on in 2016 and they inform our reporting.
Review and identification
To inform the choice of topics and global megatrends we present to our stakeholders to prioritize, we conduct a thorough desk research. We applied a rigorous process supported by tools from the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), which we disclosed in our CR Report 2015. We aim to rerun the full scope assessment regularly. However, in 2016, we conducted a light-touch approach by reviewing the topics from our 2015 materiality assessment. The desk research included the screening of Annual General Meeting (AGM) focus topics, sustainability ratings, internal news, media analysis, and peer analysis. The evaluation showed that the previous assessment remained valid.
Prioritization and validation
The next stage is to present the topics, alongside the megatrends, to our stakeholders to corroborate our own perception of the operating environment that shaped our business during the year. In 2016, we did this via a market research agency, which reached out to three groups:
- Clients in Germany (business-facing and customer-facing)—a key stakeholder given Deutsche Bank client-centricity
- Sustainability professionals (working globally in companies, non-governmental organizations, and academia)
- Deutsche Bank management-level employees globally (this was the first time we had targeted this group at this scale)
Given we spoke to investors directly in 2015, we reference last year’s input in our materiality results. We received 445 external and 57 internal responses to our materiality survey.
Leveraging the 2015 CR report—online feedback form
In 2016, we extended the process to identify relevant topics by introducing an open feedback form on the online Corporate Responsibility 2015 report, inviting interested parties to let us know what they believe is missing in our material topics from 2015 and what global trends they perceive as influencing the financial sector in the next decade. We received a number of responses from a diverse audience including analysts and investors, students, environmental, social and governance experts, and clients. In addition to the global trends emerging from market research, inequality was quoted as a global issue of importance.
- Innovation/digitalization was cited as a key issue for internal stakeholders, but it was perceived as less material for external groups
- Although Deutsche Bank managers, who participated in the survey, did not see climate change as significantly influencing their role, it was seen by wider stakeholders as highly likely to increase in importance
Findings from the surveys were analyzed in detail for each stakeholder group. The overall consolidated results were plotted in our materiality matrix.