About this Report

This report examines the extent to which leading institutions in the finance industry, across geographies and asset classes, are a proactive ’force for good’ in the world. This examination is based on a specific definition of ‘good’ that takes into account their implementation of ESG, sustainability and stakeholder policies and practices and the implied shift in values, and also the ‘force’ or strength of the impact of their initiatives and how the multi-dimension and scale of these initiatives result in actual and positive changes in the world, and the extent to which this is evident in terms of the more traditional metrics of financial performance.

The report’s objective is to increase awareness of the finance industry’s engagement as a ‘force for good’ and to galvanize change in the broader financial sector and beyond for a sustainable future and can provide a roadmap for others to follow. Public perception and media coverage of the finance industry’s efforts has lagged behind its activity, with industry leaders playing an increasingly active role in driving potentially systemic change. Their actions can potentially mobilize leaders in other major global stakeholder groups including consumer interest groups, producers and distributors, governments and scientists to proactively drive change.

The report aims to identify the ‘common ground’ of actions of finance industry leaders, and how they are breaking new ground. If the common ground between the most successful organizations in the industry is high, and it translates into superior performance, it further reinforces the bar for others who are seeking that status.

To do this we examine the initiatives of a representative group of 63 leaders of the finance industry utilizing multiple frameworks to determine the extent to which they are emerging as a potential a ‘force for good’. The framework has two parts. Part one assesses policies, processes, and procedures that the 63 leaders in our database have established and they are divided into three dimensions: ESG programs, environmental sustainability and stakeholder engagement. The second part of the framework assesses the impact of activities of selected institutions, with these activities classified in a ‘force for good’ framework of ‘being good’, ‘doing good’ and ‘leading for good’.

This report utilizes a detailed dataset of initiatives developed ‘organically’ across the categories of the framework described above compiled using publicly available information for 63 leading financial institutions, which for the purposes of this report are referred to as the leaders of the finance industry by virtue of their size and power providing them with a disproportionate influence over the sector. Together, these institutions represent US$102 trillion of global assets (both owned and managed), or 29% of the world’s total, split across banks, asset managers (include various types of investment funds such as government pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, and hedge funds) and insurance companies.

The critical underlying questions this report seeks to address are whether capitalism is aligned with the world’s needs and in particular the SDGs or in opposition to those; whether the world’s leading financial institutions are aligned with the world’s needs and in particular the SDGs or in opposition to those; whether this is an individual phenomenon for financial institutions or is systemic; whether the world is at a tipping point where the leaders of the finance industry are or are set to become a force for good, and; if so, whether the change is sustainable or self-sustained and so the path ahead is positive for the world at large.

The purpose of this report is not to launch or endorse any specific new initiatives, nor to present a benchmark or comparison of the institutions with each other, but rather to answer the broader question of whether the financial industry as a whole is establishing a common ground, whether it is already, or to what extent is becoming a ’force for good‘ in the world, and whether the industry is fulfilling its potential of driving systemic changes that helps to create a more fit-for-purpose finance industry as well as catalyzing capitalism to address the key challenges and opportunities facing the world today in a time of historic change.

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