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The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will publish draft voluntary standards for ESG ratings and data providers in the coming weeks, the regulator’s sustainable finance lead Mark Manning told a conference on Thursday.

The regulator in November announced the formation of an independent working group convened by the International Capital Market Association and the International Regulatory Strategy Group – a joint venture between TheCityUK and the City of London Corporation – to develop the code.

Speaking at UKSIF’s spring conference in Edinburgh, Manning said the group’s work is “progressing really, really well and we expect to see a draft code published in the coming weeks”.

Separately, the UK government is in the middle of a three-month consultation on whether and how to regulate ESG ratings. The consultation closes on 30 June.

Manning reiterated the FCA’s view that there is a strong rationale for the regulation of ESG ratings providers, but noted the importance of a voluntary code “pending potential future regulation”.

If the government decides to introduce regulation, “it might take some time before it’s fully in place”, he added.

A key aim of the voluntary code is to ensure international coherence, Manning said. The working group has been asked to take IOSCO’s recommendations on the topic into consideration, as well as national developments in Japan and Singapore, he added.

The group developing the standards is co-chaired by Moody’s, M&G, the London Stock Exchange group and law firm Slaughter & May.

The FCA and the Bank of England, along with other financial regulators and government departments, are participating as “active observers” to the group’s efforts.

ESG ratings and data have climbed up the agenda of regulators in the past two years. As Responsible Investor reported this month, the European Commission’s long-awaited legislative proposal on ESG ratings providers is expected to be published in mid-June.