The Caisse Générale d’Epargne et de Retraite

1850-1999

Themes:

  • Banks & Financial Institutions
Document

This savings & pensions institution took steps to adapt to a rapidly-changing world by changing its status successively from savings bank to State-owned bank to privately-owned bank.

  • A national institution to promote savings

The Belgian authorities began to encourage individual savings in the 1850s with a view to improving the standard of living of working people. In 1850, the government set up the Caisse d’Epargne (savings bank), which merged in 1865 with the Caisse de Retraite (retirement savings fund) to form the Caisse Générale d’Epargne et de Retraite (CGER), known in Dutch as the Algemene Spaar- en Lijfrentekas (ASLK). In a spirit of national solidarity, first the Belgian National Bank and then the Post Office allowed ASLK-CGER to use their counters to take in deposits, thus creating a powerful national network.

As ASLK-CGER proved to be highly popular, the government added a life insurance facility in 1889 and some years later, in 1903, set up inside ASLK-CGER the Caisse de Retraite pour les Accidents du Travail to provide workers with disability cover in case of work accidents. During the 1930s ASLK-CGER achieved spectacular growth, due largely to the State guarantee it enjoyed.

écanique de l'échange ('Mechanism of Exchange') 1865

ALSK-CGER Savings Book

 

  • From State-owned bank to private bank

However, after the Second World War, when competition between banks was growing and the national political consensus was being eroded, ASLK-CGER’s role as a quasi-government agency administering savings, housing loans, pensions and insurance cover came to an end. ASLK-CGER opted to become a universal bank capable of providing all products offered by other banks. In 1980, its status was changed to that of a State-owned bank and insurer.  Subsequently, in 1993, at the request of the government, the Fortis group took a 50% stake. Five years later, in 1998, Fortis took over Generale Bank and then merged it in 1999 with ASLK-CGER in Belgium to create Fortis Banque.

In spite of the profound changes in its environment, ASLK-CGER maintained remarkable continuity of purpose.  The de facto monopoly on savings which it enjoyed until around 1950 gave it the confidence to give its staff a unique status underpinned by close collaboration between management and trade unions. The Bank developed its own unique company culture, based on service to society, providing social loans and many free services. At the same time, with its successful cross-selling of savings products, mortgage loans and life insurance policies, ASLK-CGER can be seen as an early pioneer of the ‘bancassurance’ approach.

Close

Contact us / Send us a document

This website has a cultural and historical purpose; it is not intended to deal with trade and banking relationship issues which will not be processed.

If you have a document, a photo, a story about BNP Paribas history and want to share it, please do not hesitate to share it there.

In transmitting this document, you certify to own it and to hold the property rights needed for their use. You authorize BNP Paribas to use it on the website Source of History.

Thank you for indicate the origin of the documents and give us any information you consider relevant to its understanding.

Close

Suscribe to Well of History's newsletter

The personal data collected from the Site are subject to data processing by BNP Paribas to enable access to and use of the functionalities offered by the Site www.histoire.bnpparibas.
Pursuant to the French Data Protection Law No. 78-17 of 6 January 1978, you are entitled to access the data collected by BNP Paribas and to have it amended, updated or deleted, where such information is incorrect, incomplete or outdated. You can exercise this right by contacting: BNP Paribas – APAC TDC Val de Marne, TSA 30233- 94729 FONTENAY SOUS BOIS Cedex.

Close

Files download

I undertake to make private use of the contents downloaded from the website

OK
Close

You have added an item to your selection.

You can find your saved contents in the “My space” section, which can be accessed at the top right of any page of the website.

My space English A+ A-

To find this content on your next visit, you need to create an account from this section, by clicking on:

Fermer Welcome to

Well of History

Since 1822, history has made us a key player and a witness of transformations taking place in society and economy in Europe and around the world. We invite you to share in our story and explore our archives to learn more about our constantly changing world.
Jean Lemierre Jean Lemierre,
Chairman
of BNP Paribas