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Sustainable Financing and Investing survey – Americas Report

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Investors lead charge in embrace of green and sustainable agenda.

Galvanized by a new administration in the US and a strong sense of urgency for change, issuers and investors in the Americas have not only increased their focus and attention on environmental and social issues in the past year, many more of them now assign high levels of importance to these issues.

Such emboldened sentiment builds on the already strong engagement and commitment Americas issuers and investors have demonstrated to these issues in last year’s survey.

Americas investors in particular are leading the green and sustainable charge this year – 80% of them say environmental and social issues are very important, which is more than double the percentage in any other region and a notable jump from 66% who said the same last year.

For their part, Americas issuers also see these issues as important, but not to the same extent. Some 32% of issuers in the region say they are very important – the lowest percentage of any region – and 60% somewhat important.

So what’s driving this sentiment shift, especially among Americas investors?

Having a new US President who is pushing a green and sustainable economic agenda is certainly influential, not just in the US but to the broader region and the world. Yet as the survey shows, there are other factors at play.

The pandemic has played a big part in making both investors and issuers pay more attention to these issues with 74% of investors saying they have increased their attention to both environmental and social issues in the past year – the highest percentage of any region.

There is also a shift this year away from solely the financial benefits of focusing on environmental and social issues as reasons to care, but to a values centered approach.

Americas investors (66%) and investors overall (57%) say a belief that it is right to care about the world and society is their top reason to care, followed by a recognition that paying attention to these issues can improve returns or reduce risk as the second most popular response, marking a reversal from last year. Interestingly, this factor – improving returns or reducing risk – is the top response for Canadian respondents.

Also important for investors in the Americas – and every other region – is being required by regulation to care (some 41% of investors said so this year, down a touch from 45% last year).

These are the same top three reasons for investors in all other regions except for Europe, where investors there have this year placed less emphasis on the risk/return factor.

2021 key findings:

  • Strategic importance – 80% of Americas investors say environmental and social issues are very important to their organisation – more than double the percentage in any other region and a notable jump from 66% last year.

  • Reasons to careAmericas investors and issuers say they care about environmental and social issues for the same two reasons: Their belief that it is right to care about the world and society; and recognition that paying attention to these issues can improve returns or reduce risk.

  • Net zero progressAmericas investors and issuers are making progress on setting carbon neutral or ‘net zero’ commitments; 11% of investors (lower than the global average of 17%) and 17% of issuers (above the global average of 16%) in the region have already made a commitment.

  • ESG investing leadersAmericas investors are one of the leaders regionally on having a firm-wide policy on responsible investing or ESG issues – 72% of investors say they have such a policy, the second highest percentage after Europe.

  • Disclosure level – Only 5% of Americas issuers say they don’t disclose anything on environmental and social issues.

  • Climate change impact66% of Americas issuers say climate change is already affecting their business or activities – the highest percentage of any region.

  • Issuers examined – Most Americas investors say the information disclosed by companies they invest in on their environmental performance is adequate (42%) and excellent (38%). Some 20% say it is inadequate.

  • Issuers examined – Most Americas investors say the information disclosed by companies they invest in on their social performance is adequate (40%) and excellent (40%), while 20% say it is inadequate.

  • Green and sustainable finance – 54% of Americas issuers say they expect their company to actively seek advice on green, social or sustainability issues in relation to capital markets transactions in the next 12 months.

To download the report in full, click the button below:

COVID shifts, social agendas & more

Global perspectives from issuers and investors in our latest HSBC’s 2021 Sustainable Financing and Investing Survey.

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