UK issues sustainable finance best practice for asset managers

Kwasi Kwarteng, now minister of state for business, energy and clean growth, seen outside Downing Street in London, Britain

The British government has for the first time issued a set of standards for asset managers engaged in the multi-billion pound sustainable investment sector as it looks to bolster its green credentials ahead of the next round of global climate talks.

While a variety of industry standards have emerged over recent years as money flows into funds that better assess environmental, social and governance-related risks, this is the first to be supported by the UK government.

“Transforming our financial system for a greener future is crucial as we build back better from COVID-19 and to meet our legally binding target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said Kwasi Kwarteng, minister of state for business, energy and clean growth.

Figures from the Investment Association showed what it termed responsible investment funds under management in UK funds stood at 36 billion pounds as of the end of August, with total funds under management in these type of funds increasing 89% over the 18 months to June 2020.

Hammered out by the BSI, the UK’s national standards body, along with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and representatives of the UK financial services industry, the requirements define best practice and aim to help lay the groundwork for the development of international standards.

Specifically, the new voluntary UK standard sets out the requirements to establish, implement and manage the process of integrating responsible and sustainable considerations into investment management.

The new standard aims to support the UK Green Finance Strategy, set out in 2019 and which forms a key plank of Britain’s efforts to prosper after it leaves the European Union, which is itself launching a series of rules aimed at driving green finance.

The moves come ahead of the next round of global climate talks, to be held in Scotland next year.

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