Office Address

Head office: 18B Olu Holloway road,
Ikoyi-Lagos, Nigeria.

Abuja Office: 32 Lusaka crescent,
Wuse zone 6, Abuja, Nigeria.

Lagos Office: 207 Igbosere road,
Lagos-island, Nigeria.

Phone Number

+(01) 342 7448

+(234) 704 026 9249

+(234) 704 577 9160

Email Address

enquiries@ipmc-ng.com

ESG AND THE BANKING SECTOR

Incorporating ESG into mainstream banking is becoming integral in assessing the performance of banks; not just in meeting compliance, but for investors and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) opportunities within the banking sector. The financial sector as an enabler of economic growth will need to re-imagine how they finance economies to ensure that amplified emphasis on environmental, social and governance (ESG) sensitivities are taken into consideration. Institutional investors especially are now very aware of the growing importance of ESG factors in financial matters and investment decisions.

Investors are becoming concerned about the effects of climate change, extreme weather, and regulatory compliance. Investors are also becoming concerned about social contracts and relationship of organisations to their communities and are obviously paying heed to the dramatic increase in ethical consumerism that is driving how consumers choose products in the market.

Above all, diversity, inclusivity, and stakeholder activism are informing values attributed to organisations by ESG investors. To stay relevant and competitive, integrating ESG has become essential and critical to the long-term survival of banks because of the competing imperative of ESG-aligned funding.

The Essentials of ESG-Aligned Investments

Proponents seeking investments in ESG funds will typically seek information about ESG performance. The ESG performance is an integral part of corporate disclosures which are made through sustainability/ESG reports. The corporate ESG Report provides an understanding of an organisations ESG performance. The report outlines progression in ESG initiatives over time, benchmarked against local, national and/or global standards.

It also outlines measures wherein compliance has been met, is yet to be met and where they fall short of compliance. Generally, organisations will highlight partnerships with environmental and social causes, as well as internal or third-party assessments on employee satisfaction, development, and employer turnover. The best reports will appeal to a wide range of stakeholders in non-technical language including company vision, mission and message from the CEO or Governance Board.

To attract ESG investment, banks will especially need to highlight how they meet the Sustainable Banking Principles and their ESG performance into their Annual Reports, and that they are fully compliant with the Sustainable Banking Reporting requirements. To enhance credibility, ESG reports can also be independently assessed to verify disclosures and win confidence of stakeholders.

How can banks integrate ESG into their operations?

  • Develop a plan: Identify material ESG issues that are critical to the bank, stakeholders, and broader public. Establish ambition and buy-in of leadership, which is imperative to driving tangible change. Commitment to ESG issues which are aligned with a bank’s bottom-line generally unlocks more tangible results as compared to prioritising unrelated issues. Develop a plan that focuses on closing the gaps identified with SMART actions and defined goals which are delivered over a set timeframe, with due consideration to materiality and impact of the action plan.
  • Establish a dedicated ESG Desk: It is important to dedicate resources toward implementing ESG and not consider implementation as extra work. Realignment of existing job descriptions can also yield tangible results, and it’s worth noting that the scope of ESG implementation may be potentially too large to realise without a dedicated desk.
  • Drive visibility through Corporate Reporting: ESG reporting is critical in attracting ESG-aligned investment, as investors and stakeholders will appreciate a bank’s ESG performance. It is important to avoid greenwashing and commit to disclosures that are verifiable. The ESG reports can be stand-alone documents or integrated into the Annual Financial Report and can be combined with consistent marketing informed by a requisite communications strategy and strategic PR initiatives to improve visibility and branding to appeal to wider stakeholders.
  • Commit to continuous improvement: ESG investors are likely to track your ESG performance over time. It is therefore important to integrate a culture of growth, continuous improvement, and education of key stakeholders – including leadership, employees, customers, and key collaborators, especially the supply chain, about your ESG initiatives and commitments.

References:

Heller, D., Reiter, A., Schobl, S. & Soller, H. (2023). ESG Data Governance: A

Growing Imperative for Banks. Accessed 3rd November, 2023 on www.https//:mckinsey.com/capabilities/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/tech-forward/esg-data-governance-a-growing-imperative-for-banks.

Snowflake (2023). ESG in Banking: The Future of the Financial Sector. Accessed

on 3rd December, 2023 www.https//:snowflake.com/trending/esg-banking/esg-banking-financial-sector/

Thomson Reuters Regulatory Intelligence (2021). ESG: Fast-Emerging

Challenges for Financial Institutions. Accessed on 3rd  November,2033 on www.https//:thomsonreuters.com/en-us/posts/wp-content/uploads/sites/20/2021/09/ESG-2021_A4_Final_web.pdf

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