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Front and centre

28/07/2020

SG UK is pooling the local expertise of all business units in alignment with the bank’s global Environment and Social Governance strategy. The harnessing of skills within a coherent and collaborative vision for the bankwide ESG undertakings is aimed squarely at providing the best service to clients for the energy transition and attend to the social governance imperative. Brendon Moran explains.

“We want to be seen as a partner and adviser of choice for our clients in the UK on the energy transition, sustainable and positive impact finance and sustainable and responsible investments,” said Brendon Moran, senior banker, Energy, Natural Resource & Utilities, and the SG UK sponsor and champion for Sustainable & Positive Impact Finance for GLBA.

Mr Moran’s plan for the UK will draw on the many areas of expertise in the bank’s work in sustainable finance, highly-developed corporate social responsibility (CSR) and long track record in practicing and bringing good governance to its business and relationships. Very much inspired by the progress the UK’s culture and conduct initiative has had since the Global Financial Crisis, Mr Moran is confident that the UK business can provide a structure and a plan that includes all elements of environmental and social governance.

An initial part of the plan will require both training and a detailed scrutiny of clients for opportunities to market additional sustainable finance and investment products, on top of green loans and bonds. “Very specific training is being provided for those experts who are out there originating new opportunities in sustainable finance,” said Mr Moran. “More generic training will also be on offer, relating to the bank’s commitments to the market, how we are adapting our strategy and why this is so important to our future business. Better understanding of the ‘how and why’ of the bank’s strategy is the key to helping our people – in all parts of the UK business – understand that we are all part of the bigger picture.”

The strategy will also benefit from its linkages to the Group’s global strategy, but also from looking closely at how the UK Branch and all its local affiliates can work in a more integrated manner to devise a 360-degree offering for our clients leveraging all parts of our business. “The question is, ‘what are our clients doing and how can we work with them?’” he said. “Our insight into client needs is helped considerably by knowledge from our global network, with our work to align business and service units across the UK also aimed at integrating this work into this global framework.”

The systemic process to generate new business should be ready to swing into action in the second half of this year, supported by internal and external communications plans, according to Mr Moran.

Mr Moran is also investigating the potential for closer links with UK Finance, a UK-based lobby group focused on very specific points of policy and regulation, “to associate ourselves front and centre with the topic”.

The E, the S and the G

“We have a client base that is naturally orientated and motivated to transform: a lot of energy companies, a lot of utilities, and transportation, all of which will be affected by the energy transition and are also eager to raise their own profile among investors and others as companies with good environmental, social and governance stewardship,” said Mr Moran.

“We also have several global business lines in the UK that are at the ‘tip of the spear’ in delivering sophisticated outcomes to support our clients’ energy transition journey. Whether it is a formidable presence and expertise in project finance and advisory on mainstream and cutting edge renewable energy, our ability to tailor innovative sustainable investment products in MARK or the unique developments by Lyxor and its ESG-linked ETF ranges, Societe Generale has a wonderful offer for our clients here in the UK and around the world,” he said. “MARK and GLBA, for example, are very advanced in developing product innovation and, of course, are able to benefit from its large distribution platform based here in the UK.”

Mr Moran also highlights that we too often overlook that our flagship headquarters at One Bank Street is the physical embodiment of the bank’s green credentials, as one of the most energy-efficient buildings in London, with its 10,000 plants and 45% reduction in carbon emissions.

“The trilemma we face is rooted in understanding,” said Mr Moran. “Everyone can get their head around the E factor – the greening of our economy and renewables – however, the S and the G are slightly more esoteric, and we need to make sure our people can make the connections that can advance our profile and business opportunities in these areas.”

The bank has a developed a strong Social framework, recognised through initiatives such as a well-established community-engagement programme as well as many internal initiatives, including its diversity networks, Life@Work programme, work practices adopted with the move to One Bank Street and its commitment to the Women in Finance Charter, which the bank signed last year. One internal initiative that may be developed would link internal communications with a number of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals* as a powerful means to show colleagues just how aligned our activities are to this important global framework.

“My role is multifarious,” said Mr Moran. “But it starts with ensuring that the business and service units in the UK are aligned and working together, and the buy-in has been fantastic across the board. The next step is to harness the momentum we have already created and match that together with the expertise and talents that have already been developed with the bank’s global network. As well as showcasing this to our staff, we will be more able to present a collective offering to our clients. We all benefit.”

* The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals:

  1. No poverty
    End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  2. Zero hunger
    End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  3. Good health and well-being
    Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  4. Quality education
    Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  5. Gender equality
    Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  6. Clean water and sanitation
    Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  7. Affordable and clean energy
    Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  8. Decent work and economic growth
    Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
    Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation
  10. Reduced inequalities
    Reduce inequality within and among countries
  11. Sustainable cities and communities
    Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  12. Responsible consumption and production
    Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  13. Climate action
    Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  14. Life below water
    Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  15. Life on land
    Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainable manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  16. Peace, justice and strong institutions
    Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  17. Partnerships for the goals
    Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development