Sustainable Finance & ESG
This panel discussion, co-hosted with KPMG provided the audience with thought provoking content, analysis and a lively debate.
In a key note speech provided by Karim Haji (Head of FS, KPMG). Karim noted that ESG is a critical topic, amplified by recent events (Covid-19). Karim also noted the growing interest around ESG, in July 2020 global assets in ESG held funds passed 100 billion for the first time and there is strong evidence that ESG funds outperformed their counterparts during the current crisis and that Europe and the UK are leading the way with regard to regulation.
Noeleen Cowley, Partner at KPMG moderated the discussion and kicked off by asking Anna Lane and James Lawson what practical examples they had seen that addresses parts of the ESG agenda. Anna touched on the fact that there has been increased focus across the industry over the past few years on gender and with the focus on ESG. James noted interesting opportunities for investors to diversify the product offerings according to the current climate.
Kay touched on the subject of gender and the amount of data available (i.e. the board data) and that investors and other lenders who are making decisions on where capital gets deployed should be taking more notice of where the gaps are and put pressure those firms and where the work needs to be done. Even 30% isn’t good enough. ESG disclosures can push forward where gender balance is 2nd nature for companies - using that data as a force for good.
Ida Levine discussed the global regulatory perspective and highlighted the fact that regulation should set some base lines and that there is an opportunity to put gender and diversity to the forefront (along with climate change and carbon targets) which will provide more of an emphasis on social factors. Ida also mentioned the tools available to assess the ESG in their portfolio and agreed there is still a data gap.
Anna Lane highlighted the massive structural issues and gaps within industry and noted the huge opportunities around structural reform that companies can engage in.
The panel agreed that basic governance should include gender and should be top of the priority list for companies. The difficulties are understood, but the benefits to the bottom line should outweigh the challenges.