ESG: From Tick Box to Value Driver

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Justin Prichard, Managing Director in Baird’s Global Technology & Services Investment Banking team, moderated the discussion, which explored whether ESG can actually unlock strategic value – changing perceptions from ESG as a routine box-ticking exercise into a culture that drives value for businesses and their clients. The panel included highly relevant ESG champions offering unique perspectives from across the business ecosystem including corporates, capital providers and dedicated ESG technology and service providers:

  • Cornelia Andersson, Group Head of Sustainable Financing and Investing, London Stock Exchange Group
  • Valerie Monk, Risk and Compliance Director and Interim Director of ESG, Montagu
  • Joachim Nahem, CEO, Position Green

Looking Across the ESG Maturity Spectrum

Cornelia highlighted the spectrum of ESG maturity for different market participants. “There’s a real difference of maturity. The investor space is years ahead of corporates. That leads to a mismatch in expectations. You’ll find a lot of – particularly the European-based – institutional investors have very high expectations in terms of what they’re expecting to see from the companies and the asset and funds that we invest in,” she shared. A similar dynamic exists in the regulatory space, where EU regulators are generally quite advanced in their ESG initiatives compared to their peers in other parts of the world.

Addressing the Data Collection Burden

Valerie spoke to the impact of increasing ESG rules and regulations for businesses, especially as it relates to data collection. For many businesses, this will be a significant shift. “It’s genuinely complicated and it will be shifting for the next five or 10 years,” she said. “All these regulators realize that they’re creating the burden of a tick box. And actually, what they need to create is change.” Looming reporting expectations will force businesses to develop a strong data collection regimen. 

ESG as a Strategic Investment

For some companies, strengthening their ESG profile is vital to winning future business – rendering ESG a vital strategic investment. Joachim sees this trend in Position Green’s customer base. “I think that is a very strong sort of incentive driving it. It’s from the customer part. It’s not the regulation… and it’s not just on climate. It’s also on people in terms of respect for human rights and supply chains or how people are treated generally.”