There is something of a disconnect in how CFOs and treasurers view ESG. While 87% of all organisations we surveyed see ESG as important to the allocation of their capex budget and an average of 80% of CFOs across regions view ESG criteria to be important across both financial investments and supply chains, the importance in the treasury is not so high.
Over a third of treasurers (36%) say they do not yet embed ESG criteria in their financing arrangements but they are looking to embed it in their internal policy – rising to 43% in the Americas. And 23% of all treasurers say they only embed ESG on a case-by-case basis, with other factors (cost, documentation) deemed more important – this rises to 33% in Asia.
But Paul Harvey, Head of Corporate Sales for UK CMB, Greece & Malta at HSBC, who is also the bank’s global lead for ESG across corporate sales activities, isn’t really surprised by that finding.
“There is a very mixed agenda and it's certainly top down. The C-suite are very aware of the competitive edge it could give, and appreciate the importance of a well-defined ESG agenda,” he says.
“There are an increasing number of corporates recruiting sustainability specialists tasked to help define the agenda alongside the treasurer and the CFO, in order to establish their core KPIs and sustainability performance targets and to drive the change in adoption. But there's an education process here, as well. And this is where risk partners and relationship teams across their banking syndicate can help in building the agenda.”