New effort by FCA to establish and measure sustainability standards

Regulator wants to close the gap between words and actions.

The financial sector needs to “start closing the say-do gap and move from well-meaning commitments to real action”. That’s the view of the FCA’s Sacha Sadan, who directs the regulator’s ESG work.

Announcing the launch of a new consultation paper, Finance for Positive Sustainable Change, Sadan also said “To deliver the transition to net zero, we will need a transformation of unprecedented pace and scale.”

Regulator’s role

The consultation seeks to build on commitments made by the FCA ahead of COP26 in 2021, and comes within two months of UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt setting out the Government’s expectations of the role it expects the regulator to play in supporting the Green Finance agenda.

One element of the paper that stands out is the FCA’s request for feedback on how effective asset management is being incentivised. Other key points include oversight of ESG integration across investment processes, and whether firms’ stated environmental and social objectives are reflected in policy.

“We want to see where the market is moving and highlight better practices to help and guide the industry.”

Sacha Sadan, Director of ESG, FCA

Sadan was keen to stress the wider considerations around ESG. In a blog for the FCA website, he wrote: “creating positive, sustainable change isn’t just about climate change. It’s about looking beyond and considering the wider environmental issues, such as biodiversity and nature, as well as social and governance issues, such as diversity and inclusion, the living wage, fair taxation and supply chains.”

He referenced recent research that showed that while customers wanted the businesses they dealt with to take on wider social responsibilities, most were not confident that funds currently claiming to be sustainable delivered on that commitment.

Thought leaders

The FCA paper includes 10 articles from thought leaders on subjects including governance, remuneration and stewardship that Sadan says are intended to “complement our own ideas and analysis”.  The deadline for feedback is 10 May.

Sadan emphasised that “we want to see where the market is moving and highlight better practices to help and guide the industry” and he concludes: “What gets measured and incentivised gets done”.

The full 97-page paper is available on the FCA website.