New Swiss sustainable finance group launched with backing from insurers, Ethos

Official launch of new group backed by 55 institutions

Three Swiss insurers Swiss Re, Helvetia and SUVA, as well as Ethos, the pension fund-backed proxy firm, are among the 55 founders of a new organisation to promote sustainable finance in the country.

The new body, Swiss Sustainable Finance (SSF), first revealed by Responsible Investor in May, was officially launched on July 1. Founding members include virtually all Swiss private banks and many asset managers. The organisation will also work with several academic organisations, the environmental campaign group WWF and Zurich public officials.

In a statement, SSF said its mission would be to develop sustainable financial products, promote the training of finance professionals and provide information on Switzerland’s sustainable financial industry.

SSF said it aimed to build on Switzerland’s leading position in sustainable finance. “There are already CHF57bn (€47bn) in assets managed sustainably in Switzerland, much of which is for international clients.Also, just in the last decade, the Swiss financial industry has developed a number of innovative products, including an index that takes into account environmental and social risks as well as a fair trade fund that provides capital to farmers (in developing countries),” SSF said. The organisation plans to hold a public event regarding its mission on October 23 in Zurich.

As reported, Sabine Döbeli, the former deputy head at the Forum Nachhaltige Geldanlagen (FNG), the sustainable investment forum for Germany, Switzerland and Austria, will be SSF’s managing director, based in Zurich. Deputy MD will be former Ethos executive Jean Laville, who was vice president of a sustainable finance lobby for the city of Geneva. Despite the emergence of SSF, Berlin-based FNG says it will continue its activities in the Swiss sustainable investment market and name a replacement for Döbeli later this month.

Döbeli herself will work half of the time for the SSF and the other half for Swiss private bank Vontobel, where she is Head of Corporate Sustainability Management.