Planning and building your ESG reputation in the finance sector

As pressure increases on the finance sector to drive purposeful change through sustainable investing, we share upcoming events and legislation.
08 September 2021
banking ESG planning
James Dilworth

Senior Researcher, Forward Planning

Thanh Pham

Business Researcher, Forward Planning

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Within the financial sector, it is becoming impossible to miss conversations about climate change and sustainability. On 31 October, the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 will open in Glasgow and, as highlighted by European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde, the financial industry is needed to drive a new approach in policies towards climate change. With more climate change legislation being introduced, carbon-intensive assets will soon phase out, and companies must adapt to the shifting landscape or risk substantial losses. Communicators are central to helping the brands they work for navigate this complexity and articulate the plans they are putting in place to support and encourage sustainable investment.

Key considerations for communicators 

It’s not just pressure coming from the likes of government legislators that the finance sector should be concerned about. More and more it’s the public calling out firms that don’t appear to be pulling their weight in adapting their businesses. Investors increasingly use Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors as a framework to determine investment decisions, and likewise a more aware consumer base means that financial firms must consider ESG factors in their company policies to attract investment.

For communicators, building a plan for what a company communicates, how and when is absolutely critical to protecting and building brand perception and growth. A global KPMG survey showed that before COVID-19, almost three quarters of banking CEOs believed that their future growth would be contingent on how they adapt and react to a transition towards a carbon neutrality. Communicators have a critical role here. Failure to communicate a company’s ambitions and plans effectively may be detrimental to their ESG ratings and thus investor confidence, impacting investment opportunities.

Maintaining a regular and open dialogue with the public about ESG changes your business is making is vital, in particular as social media becomes a bigger platform for business and allows a more personal touch between customer and brand. With the growth of social media, communicators and marketers need to work together to engage active consumers and manage social media presence.

Plan ahead, stay ahead

Numerous financial organisations have adapted to the changing ESG landscape, with ratings agencies increasingly using ESG criteria to promote sustainable investment. Alongside that, companies are hosting events to promote their own ESG strategies to drive sustainable investment.

With COP26 less than two months away, international organisations, communities and countries are producing new legislation and guidelines that companies must be aware of to comply with governmental policies. Investors and consumers alike bring ESG and good governance practices into consideration when making decisions, so promoting corporate strategies is vital in maintaining a successful marketing strategy that drives responsible investment.

Those who can communicate with integrity ahead of the curve of incoming government legislation will find success with both consumers and investors. Keeping track of the many events across the financial sector scheduled for this year and 2022 is critical to this success. For communicators, such events provide opportunities to reinforce the stance and ambition of the companies they represent, while also being on the front foot to manage any uncomfortable truths that arise.

Kantar Forward Planning allows communicators in the finance sector to be aware of upcoming events and legislation related to ESG. They can use this information to build strategies and campaigns to engage with consumers, promote business practices and communicate with an increasingly ethical consumer and investor base.

Here we share some of the key events and legislative changes financial sector communicators need to plan for:

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Executive Summit 

12 – 14 September 2021 | @Opal_Group

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Executive Summit is a face to face gathering of senior level, enterprise executives with expertise in the areas of Diversity, Equity, Equality, Inclusion, Belonging, Culture, Talent, and Human Resources.

Priorities for green and sustainable finance in the UK

13 September 2021

Westminster Forum Projects online conference will address priorities for green and sustainable finance in the UK focusing on best practice, the green taxonomy, regulation, and the wider economic and societal impact. Priorities for regulation, resilience, innovation, and competition will be covered, as well as looking at the next steps for green and sustainable finance in the economic recovery from COVID-19.

OECD The Social and Solidarity Economy: From the Margins to the Mainstream 

13 – 16 September 2021 | @OECD

The first international conference part of the OECD Global Action bringing together policy makers, practitioners, and experts in the social and solidarity economy. Learn more about potential issues when designing legal frameworks and measuring social impact, and the role of social and solidarity economy organisations in providing tools to achieve social impact.

World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit 

20 – 23 September 2021 | @WEF

The fourth Sustainable Development Impact Summit aims to initiate, accelerate, and scale-up entrepreneurial solutions to tackle climate change and advance sustainable development. Leaders from government, business and international organisations will address topics across seven key ESG themes.

OMFIF Sustainable Policy Institute symposium

29 – 30 September 2021 | @OMFIF

OMFIF’s Sustainable Policy Institute is welcoming a global network of key policymakers, regulators, public and private sector investors and ESG experts to discuss key practical challenges in driving greener financial markets to achieve net zero.

Sustainable & ESG Conference  

30 September 2021 | @_IWEvents

This event will bring together senior fund selectors with leading fund managers running sustainable and ESG strategies to hear how they are navigating this rapidly evolving part of the market, cutting through the greenwash and where they are finding opportunities.

The New York Times Climate Hub 

3 – 11 November 2021 | @nytimesevents

The New York Times Climate Hub held alongside the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), with over 150 contributors including climate strategists, innovators, and leaders of industry, alongside journalists from The New York Times who host lectures, discussions and workshops as part of the program, ranging from community and policy action to the impact of individual efforts on climate change.

Law, Justice and Development Week at the World Bank 

8 – 11 November 2021 | @WorldBank

A World Bank Group-wide event organised by the legal functions of the World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) Annual Rebalancing review results announcement 

12 November 2021 | @SPDJIndices

The world’s leading index provider announces the Sustainability Indices Annual Rebalancing review results. The DJSI tracks the stock performance of the world's leading companies in terms of economic, environmental, and social criteria.

Living Wage Week

15 – 21 November 2021 | @LivingWageUK

Living Wage Week commences with the announcement of the new UK and London Living Wage rates for 2021-2022, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan announcing the new London rate.

Legatum Prosperity Index 

16 November 2021 | @ProsperityIndex

Legatum Institute publishes its annual global Prosperity Index showing how prosperity is forming and changing across the world. Covering 167 countries representing over 99% of the world's population, the Index measures both economic and social wellbeing to provide insight into why some countries have seen their prosperity improve while others have seen their deteriorate.

The Future of Impact Investing: An Investor's Guide To ESG event

2 December 2021 | @ArenaFinancial

This one-day event will aim to explore the urgent questions facing the industry through a series of high-level panel discussions and exclusive insights from keynote speakers.

FTSE4Good Index Semi-Annual Review

7 December 2021 | @FTSERussell

The FTSE4Good Index Series is a series of benchmark and tradable indices for socially responsible investors.

Bloomberg Sustainable Business Summit

8 December 2021 | @BloombergLIVE

Bloomberg Live brings together the expertise of the largest newsroom in the world with the immense data and analytical power of Bloomberg Intelligence and Bloomberg Global Data to enable our celebrated moderators and speakers to produce compelling, news-making conversations.

Deadline for FTSE 100 company boards to have at least one director from an ethnic minority

31 December 2021 | @beisgovuk

Parker Review deadline for FTSE 100 companies to have at least one director from an ethnic minority background on their boards. FTSE 250 companies have until 2024 to reach the same target.

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