Having now completed the first year of the MSt Sustainability Leadership at the CISL, I would like to provide an update and reflect on the personal leadership challenge which I set myself at the beginning of the course.
This challenge was to continue to inspire finance leaders to further integrate ESG considerations into investment decision-making.
Through my current role as Advisor – Capital Markets for A4S, I had the opportunity to influence at my own level the incorporation of ESG factors into investment decisions within the global financial industry through a few projects.
The first two projects have now been completed. One was the launch of an Asset Owners Network in the UK and the second one was the A4S Finance Leaders Forum, a high-profile event which was hosted by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales at Saint James’s Palace on July 9th and 10th, 2018. The aim of this event was to inspire sustainable investment decision-making across the whole of the financial community from investment management companies, investment banks to asset owners via stock exchanges as well as financial regulators, large corporates, investment consultants and rating agencies. A great outcome was that the C-level executives from large financial institutions around the world who attended this event have committed to drive the integration of ESG factors within their organisations further and as soon as possible.
Furthermore, I am currently working on the international expansion of A4S. This project should also participate to the expansion of the sphere of influence of the A4S project and hopefully help increase its advocacy actions on a global level. My work on the strategic aspects of this project should be completed by mid-September 2018 when I leave the project to go back to the industry where I am hoping to take a role in strategic partnership management, corporate engagement, investor engagement or client relationship management and make a difference to the sustainability agenda.
In the meantime, I will dedicate a few months in the autumn to my dissertation on “ESG Second-Opinions and Ratings: An Investigation into how they are perceived by UK Investment Managers”. The research will aim to assess what investment managers think about these second opinions and ratings, examine issues with existing methodologies (such as levels of consistency, transparency, comparability, reliability and granularity), determine whether investment managers consider them as a valuable input into the investment process and make recommendations for improvements to the methodologies.
Ultimately, I would like to share these findings with the investment community in the form of a guide published by A4S (His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales’s Accounting for Sustainability project) and freely accessible on its website. I am hoping that this will be the catalyst for further improvements to the methodologies of these ESG second opinions and ratings.
In addition, I would like to reflect on my personal leadership challenge and on this first year of the MSt Sustainability Leadership. The past twelve months have been a very intellectually challenging but also enriching experience for me since, in spite of a strong interest in sustainability, I had a lot to learn about this topic when I embarked on the course. My role for A4S has hugely contributed to building up my knowledge and provided me with an excellent opportunity to keep abreast of the regular and substantial changes around environmental, social and governance matters currently taking place within the financial community and the regulatory environment.
One other goal of mine would be to add another personal leadership challenge to my current one: becoming a trustee of a voluntary adoption agency. As you are probably aware, the link between poverty and child abuse or neglect has been well documented and all too often these children are taken into care and sometimes eventually adopted. Here are a few examples of coverage of this topic:
I feel that, as an adoptive parent myself together with my business, communications and management background, I have a contribution to make by helping a voluntary adoption agency further promote the adoption of children in the UK who, for a variety of reasons, end up being forgotten and are never given the opportunity of a permanent family. I have started talking to a few agencies and I shall update you on this in a few months’ time.