In 2020, over 700 pieces of legislation were published around increased levels of ESG disclosure in financial markets. While this has spurred a new wave of interest in sustainable investing, it also raises big questions such as: are these initiatives actually helping the world become a more sustainable place?
For some time, we at IQ-EQ have recognised the challenges facing alternative asset managers, institutional corporate and private investors, which is why we recently launched our Compass service offering. This is a holistic solution to help our clients to navigate multiple ESG frameworks, establish ESG targets and achieve them. At the same time, we wanted to go beyond this, offering value for our clients through sharing valuable insights to help them set up their own ESG frameworks.Towards this end, we held our first virtual roundtable on ESG in May 2021. As moderator, I was joined by four senior experts from across the sustainable investing space to discuss the exciting subject of ‘ESG regulation: The Letter vs the Spirit’. It is worth noting that our discussion was rooted in Jersey, a leading jurisdiction within this space, who have already made huge leaps towards embedding sustainability across its broader financial services sector.
This discussion explores some of the most pressing issues within the current ESG regulatory environment; from key investor trends in sustainable finance, to the impact of the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR), to how this enforcement is intrinsic to the ‘spirit’ of sustainability.
- Markus Reichardt, Regional Director Europe & UK at EBS Advisory, spoke on the overarching theme of adhering to ESG disclosure in the spirit vs the letter.
- David Postlethwaite, Sustainable Finance Lead at Jersey Finance, took us through how Jersey is deploying a strategy to accelerate sustainable finance and create an enabling regulatory environment.
- Lora Froud, Partner at Macfarlanes, elaborated on the impact of the SFDR’s implementation on fund managers.
- Rachel Whittaker, Sustainable Investing Strategist at UBS Wealth Management, highlighted key ESG trends from an individual investor perspective.
In this paper, we take each speaker’s insights in turn, as we attempt to give our readers an in-depth view of the new face of ESG in the fund management space, amid growing pressures from regulators demanding higher performance and greater disclosure.