October 14, 2020

Engaging audiences on ESG to drive change


Investing in combating climate change and reaching net zero is the “greatest commercial opportunity of our time.” This was Mark Carney’s message to investors and banks earlier this year in his role as UN special envoy on climate action.

Realising this opportunity is no small task, however, and requires a sea change from across the financial services sector and beyond. To create this change and achieve net zero, it is imperative to engage groups from corporates to investors on the issues at hand.

Instinctif’s strategic advisor on sustainability, Mike Barry shared insights on steps to achieve this at a recent Financial Services Forum ESG webinar, alongside Tony Burdon, CEO, Make My Money Matter and Maria Nazarova-Doyle, Head of Pension Investments, Scottish Widows.

Three key elements for engaging the audiences to create change are:

  1. Data

There is increasing public pressure from consumers who are calling for their financial services providers to be aligned with their commitment to ESG issues. In order for institutions to adapt and reflect consumer needs, it is essential to first understand them and then use this data to inform a shift in practices.

Scottish Widows did just this when it came to gaining an understanding of what its pension members care about and how this can then be reflected in investment portfolios. The research revealed that clean energy, water conservation and waste management were the issues front of mind for customers, which then informed how it structured its pensions funds.

To create meaningful change, data-gathering and analysis is essential to the planning and execution stages of corporate and investor ESG strategies.

  1. Dynamic content

In the past, many ESG issues were “out of sight, out of mind”, not just for citizens but also for corporates and investors, remote from the global supply chains that created wealth for them. This no longer the case. Wildfires from the Arctic to the West Coast of the US to Brazil and flooding from Southern USA to Bangladesh are making the climate crisis a reality.

However, engaging consumers on topics such as their pension can often seem less immediate and pressing. Tony Burdon at Make My Money Matter shared how in reality pensions – if they are invested in the right way – can make a positive impact on in the here and now. They are not a concern for 50 years’ time. To make this topic engaging Make My Money Matter produced creative video content that speaks to all regardless of age.

  1. Regulation

The increasing levels of reporting and the benchmarking it enables is making abundantly clear which corporates and investors are leaders, middling and laggards. It is no longer to possible for companies to treat ESG as someone else’s problem to handle.

It is likely that soon Government action will make it impossible to dodge environmental responsibilities, with the proposed through the UK-wide carbon tax replacing existing EU carbon-reduction schemes.

Some firms are already ahead of the curve. Aviva recently called for pension funds to be net zero by 2050 while the BT Pension Scheme has set a goal to achieve net zero carbon emissions across its investment portfolio by 2035.

Hear more from the webinar here and to discuss more about how corporates and investors can adjust their strategies to meet the demands of today and tomorrow, contact our Reinventing Responsibility team.