Ethical Performance
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Bank of America responds to financial crisis with first responsibility report

September 2011

The largest US bank has pledged in its first CSR report to put its financial house in order.

Bank of America has promised to build a ‘fortress balance sheet’ through strengthened liquidity and capital levels, and will ‘work through issues’ remaining from its controversial purchase of the Countrywide mortgage provider.

The bank, bailed out with more than $163bn (£100bn, €114bn) by the US government during the country’s credit crisis, is one of the largest banks yet to include financial sustainability in its CSR remit.

The report, which is billed by the bank as its ‘first ever CSR report’ but follows a number of recent sustainability reports, says the company has been “strengthening liquidity, credit reserve positions, asset quality and overall capital levels”.

It adds: “We responded to the charge that we are ‘too big to fail’ by reinforcing the foundation of our business.

“We conducted a thorough overhaul of our internal governance processes to make us more accountable and transparent, and we introduced a new risk management framework to help us better manage risk across our business.

“With the size and interconnectedness of our company comes a responsibility for ensuring financial stability. We acknowledge, and are acting on, this great responsibility.”

To show the bank’s commitment to CSR, the report also outlined its work over the last year to promote “fairness and transparency”, and its lending and investing activities in “low-income and underserved communities”. It also outlined its philanthropic investments and environmental initiatives.

Specific commitments include:
 extending clarity statements to small business credit card accounts and home loans customers
 developing investor education factsheets for wealth management customers that describe investment solutions in plain language
 eliminating overdraft fees for debit card transactions at point-of-sale
 modifying more than 285,000 mortgage loans for distressed homeowners
 providing capital, expertise and products to manage the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Bank of America | North America | Industry sector: banks

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