Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing has been gaining traction across the globe. PwC reports that ESG is “soaring”, and anticipates that ESG institutional investment will climb 84% to $33.9 trillion in 2026.
The firm states that by 2026, ESG assets under management (AUM) in the U.S. will more than double to total $10.5 trillion. In Europe, PwC expects the amount of ESG AUM will see an increase of 53% to $19.6 trillion. And in APAC, the firm estimates that ESG AUM will more than triple to $3.3 trillion.
What will help drive that change? Regulation.
Though the concept of ESG investing has been around for more than a decade, there have only recently been efforts to formalize regulation surrounding ESG disclosure, investment, and ESG practices and financial products. Europe, for instance, has come up with its European Green Deal, a set of proposals to stem climate change, support sustainable innovation, and transition Europe into a climate-neutral continent by 2050.
Europe isn’t the only region with a “green” vision. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of key measures some countries are taking:
The Australian Government plans to introduce mandatory sustainability and ESG reporting requirements for large businesses and financial institutions based in Australia. The requirements will be put in place in stages and will begin as soon as next year.
The U.K.’s Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) requires U.K. companies to disclose energy use, carbon footprint, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within their annual financial reporting. In 2021, The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) released Greening Finance: a Roadmap to Sustainable Investing in 2021.
At the start of 2023, the European Parliament implemented The Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR), policy aimed to enhance transparency in sustainable investing and ultimately prevent greenwashing. Also going live in January 2023 is The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), an initiative put into place by the European Parliament to broaden the Non-Financial Reporting Directive’s (NFRD) and fix weaknesses surrounding ESG regulation and reporting.
By the end of March 2023, India’s top 1,000 listed companies by market capitalization were required to begin filing a Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) to the Securities and Exchange Board (SEBI) of India. In addition to general disclosures, companies need to document their compliance with National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct (NGRBCs) and submit metrics on nine ESG factors, including ethics, sustainability, and human rights.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published a plan to issue a set of reporting standards for ESG in March of last year. As part of the plan, the SEC would require firms to report their climate risks, risk management, ESG governance, and GHG emissions. While the ruling on these proposed mandatory climate risk disclosures is expected to occur this month, SEC Chair Gary Gensler may be considering changes to the plan before it goes into effect.
Also notable is Nasdaq’s Board Diversity Rule that requires companies listed on Nasdaq’s U.S. exchange to publicly disclose board-level diversity statistics each year. If companies fall short of expectations, they are required to explain why they do not have diverse directors.
Currently, Canadian firms are not subject to mandatory ESG reporting. However, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) issued a notice last year stating plans to require large Canadian financial institutions and insurance companies to disclosed ESG efforts and climate impacts starting in 2024.
Though some fintechs do not fit the requirements of ESG reporting, many have either incorporated ESG elements into their business or structured their whole business around an ESG element. In fact, according to Crunchbase, there are 300 fintechs with an ESG focus. Check out Finovate’s ESG scholarship winners or take a look at the following notable fintechs emphasizing ESG:
- Spiral allows banks to increase customer engagement by embedding sustainability and social impact capabilities.
- Enfuce offers payment, open banking, and sustainability services to banks, fintechs, financial operators, and merchants.
- Treecard is a green finance platform that allows consumers to spend, save, and invest responsibly.
- Connect Earth connects carbon data to drive sustainable finance.
- Single.Earth is a fintech startup tokenizing nature to make it the new gold.
- Datia is a data platform for sustainable finance, working with forward-thinking financial institutions to automate their ESG workflows.
- The Upright Project develops an AI-enabled quantification model to measure the net impact of companies and funds.
- SparkChange provides specialist carbon data that empowers better ESG investment products, risk management, and financial reporting.