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Daily ESG Briefing: Fitch buys into ESG data start-up

The latest developments in sustainable finance

Fitch Ventures, the investment arm of ratings heavyweight Fitch, has backed an impact technology company in a $6m Series A fundraising round. Diginex uses blockchain and artificial intelligence to help companies report credible ESG data. It currently works with Microsoft, Coca-Cola, the US State Department, the World Economic Forum and the UN, and has named Tomicah Tilleman, former Senior Advisor to Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, to its board. 

Nearly two thirds (64%) of executives responding to a survey by the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants said that corporate purpose should receive more focus than profit, but less than half (48%) said it is present within their organisation. The annual Purpose Drives Profit Report, conducted in partnership with The Value Reporting Foundation and Black Sun, highlighted a discrepancy between the belief and practice, with just 11% of respondents saying they made “extensive use” of extra-financial performance metrics for strategic decisions, despite 99% agreeing that understanding “all dimensions” of value creation is crucial to making well-informed decisions. The majority, 75%, also said that longer-term perspectives would improve company performance, but just 28% of management teams plan more than three years ahead (although 58% said that they hope to do so). 

Alquity Investment Management has signed up to the Transparency Code of EuroSIF, Europe’s Sustainable Investment Forum. The code seeks to improve accountability and clarity regarding SRI operations for investors. Under its commitment, Alquity – which launched its first Global Impact Fund earlier this year – has provided its 2021 transparency disclosure and a document on its investment process as it integrates ESG. 

A survey of 112 investors by investment bank Berenberg shows that 47% believe social factors will be the most significant ESG issue in the recovery from Covid. 35% prioritised environmental issues and only 18% opted for governance aspects. The results indicate that the pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement and other social and economic events in the past year have shed light on existing inequalities and poor working practices for investors. 

Japanese wealth management and insurance platform Smartplus will begin integrating FactSet’s Truvalue Labs ESG data into its retail platform, Wealth Wing, allowing investors to identify companies with low and high ESG scores. 

Standard Chartered has been named chair of the Net Zero Banking Alliance. Members of the alliance have also nominated a new steering committee, comprising Amalgamated Bank, Bank of America, Banorte, BBVA, CIB, Citi, HSBC, KB Financial Group, La Banque Postale, Morgan Stanley, MUFG and Standard Chartered. The newly-created governance body will oversee strategy and accountability, as well as working to build consensus. The Steering Group will run C-suite-level meetings and meetings with “working-level delegates tackling the on-the-ground practicalities of delivering on the commitment”.

Insurance marketplace Lloyd’s has laid out a plan for how the industry can work with key sectors to accelerate global decarbonisation, and will look at developing insurance products for electric vehicles and hydrogen.