Meeting the challenges of ESG messaging

Without clear and tailored communication of often complex stories, it is almost impossible to extract the financial and reputational benefits of investment in strategic ESG.

ESG is rapidly moving into the mainstream. Companies’ ESG stance and performance are being looked at by an increasing number of equity and fixed-income investors, the ratings agencies and other key stakeholders, including employees and customers. All are demanding ever increasing levels of transparency. As a result, companies are producing more data, in more detail, more frequently. The question is, are they producing the right data, and are they tailoring their reporting correctly to suit their different audiences?


The smart way to turn your ESG story into cheaper capital

ESG is more than an external compliance exercise. It should be part of a strategic business re-engineering process that can deliver real long-term benefits.

Demonstrate a commitment to ESG, lower your cost of capital and deliver positive ROI for your ESG programme. It sounds straightforward. In fact, matching an ESG programme to both the strategic needs of the business and the complex and varied requirements of different investor communities is extremely challenging. It requires strong internal leadership and a sophisticated external communications approach.


ESG – from risk to opportunity

Companies attuned to the need to adapt to changing environmental and socio-economic conditions are more likely to spot new opportunities and pitfalls early.

The rapid increase in the importance key stakeholders assign to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria is “fundamentally changing how businesses make decisions.” That’s the overwhelming view of the 70 participants at a recent gathering of leaders from business and the capital markets organised by specialist communications boutique Thoburns. Sustainability, and how to communicate it externally, now “sets corporate agendas internally”, “tops the agenda at Board level” and is “the most important issue facing us right now,” according to the attendees present.


ESG – How to focus on what really matters

ESG is rapidly becoming a mainstream consideration for any company that requires capital, regardless of sector, size, length of operation, listed or not.

I’ve seen many significant developments during my 18 years advising some of the world’s leading companies on sustainability, but one of the most striking recently has been the ESG explosion. While the overall goal of using investment to hold businesses to account has the potential to be incredibly powerful, for many companies it’s currently both overwhelming and confusing.


Brexit and the neutral: a view from Zurich

Contrasting trends on investment and taxation, but the need for a new Swiss/UK trading relationship trumps all.

Analysing the UK investment market, from Zurich, enables me to view the issues, without having any skin in the Brexit game. Being neither in the UK, nor in the European Union – whilst providing a service to companies in both geographical entities – allows me to take a dispassionate look at the situation.


Cyber risk is here to stay – for companies of all sizes

As the unfolding saga of the British Airways data breach shows only too well, cyber risk has become a core issue for companies of all sizes and across all sectors. As we move rapidly from an era in which only ‘early adopters’ embraced digitalisation to one in which every customer expects digital interaction, and every business must provide it, the ‘attack surface’ presented to attackers grows exponentially and the potential damage to business from a technology failure becomes critical. Particularly taking the Internet of Things into account, it’s no exaggeration to say that cyber risk is now one of the biggest and most complex, day-to-day operational risks companies face.

The complexity is not just in the technological details, it’s in the range and intricacy of the consequences. Cyber attacks are generating ever bigger reported losses. Shipping giant AP Moeller Maersk announced potential losses of up to $300 million following the notPetya attacks of 2017.


Don’t be a CR laggard

When I first started working as a corporate responsibility advisor around the turn of the century the job felt very different to what it is now. In those days, it was a very small world which consisted of a handful of advisors and some people in the investment community who used to practice something called socially responsible investing or “SRI”. The latter invariably involved running screened tracker investment funds which excluded companies from certain industrial sectors (tobacco, weapons manufacture for example). The work wasn’t easy to get and mainly focused on writing small sections of annual reports and the relevant bit of the company website.

Many hours were spent in meetings explaining what the subject was all about and presenting slides that talked about business conduct, climate change and human rights and not philanthropy, altruism and giving corporate money to charity.