At 4.30am on Thursday, 24th February my radio woke me up. I lay listening to the news of Russia invading Ukraine and knew I wouldn’t be needed for a business round-up on Times Radio that morning. It was a surreal end to a month which, up to that point, had felt like a return to normal after the pandemic. Last week I posted a second video calling for the industry to use better language than calling all sustainable strategies ‘ESG investing’. I feel more relaxed making videos but I’m not yet at the same comfort level as when I’m talking on the radio. I also launched my infographic detailing the seven steps an asset manager needs to undertake to become a credible sustainable investor. And I hosted my second networking event to discuss how to make net zero a reality. I felt great to be in a room with so many familiar faces and I was delighted to host such an engaged audience.
Let’s stop using the term ‘ESG investing’
Practice makes perfect. It’s taking me less time to set up the kit to record a video and staring at myself in the screen of my phone is starting to feel less strange. I’ve discovered a script doesn’t work for me – I become stilted and unsmiling. Passion also helps and I feel strongly the asset management could be much more eloquent if it were to eschew jargon. ‘ESG Investing’ is an unhelpful expression that does little to convey the purpose of a sustainable strategy. In the video I call for a moratorium on the term and for the sector to find simple and robust language instead. Have a watch and tell me what you think.
How to be a credible sustainable investor
Getting to grips with asset management often feels like peeling an onion – you remove one layer only to find another lurking beneath. That’s how my project to understand the communication strategies of the best sustainable investment managers felt. This infographic illustrates the journey the most credible sustainable asset managers undertake to build the most robust structure. The diagram shows and defines the steps to generate a coherent vision which resonates with employees and clients. With this in place, a manager can then find the best narrative to explain its purpose to clients. Take a look and tell me if you agree with my analysis.
Making net zero a reality
Climate Action 100+ has made great strides. After identifying 80% of the world’s carbon emissions are produced by 167 companies, 111 of these firms have agreed to become net zero. But turning this target into a reality will be tough. At my second networking event, Ben Pincombe and Hans-Christoph Hirt discussed the nitty-gritty involved both for companies and asset managers to decarbonise the economy. It was an interesting and informative discussion with plenty of excellent questions from the audience. If you or your colleagues would like to attend the next event, please email me and I’ll add you to the invite list.
Over the next few months, I’ll be making and posting more videos. These will discuss how asset managers could be clearer about their purpose as well as how to avoid some of the common communication pitfalls. I also want to start a dialogue with managers about the steps outlined in my infographic and how having a strong corporate structure leads to a better narrative with clients. There will be further posts about sustainable investing as well as details about the next networking event.