New standards urge financial sector to address sustainability issues

A new set of sustainability accounting standards, addressing the environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues related to the financial sector, have been launched today.

The new provisional standards, developed by The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, covers issues relating to asset management and custody activities, commercial banks, consumer finance, insurance, investment banking and brokerage, mortgage finance, and security and commodity exchanges.

Examples of issues included are customer privacy and data security; integration of ESG factors in credit risk analysis, investment management and advisory; and responsible lending and debt prevention.

According to SASB, the new standards–which identify the minimum set of sustainability issues for each industry–are designed to be “cost effective for companies and decision useful for investors”.

SASB founder and executive director Dr. Jean Rogers said: “The Financials sector is unique, in that it’s comprised of both issuers and investors”.

“As issuers, Financials companies can compete and improve performance on the sustainability issues most relevant to business success. As investors, Financials companies can compare corporate performance on material sustainability issues and direct capital accordingly,” added Rogers.

Former PricewaterhouseCoopers, International CEO Samuel Di Piazza, Jr said: “The standards being developed by SASB are the clear answer to the compelling demand from almost all investors for broader disclosure of non-financial information.

“The standards create comparative, industry-based benchmarks. Their adoption over time is simply inevitable,” added Di Piazza.

Leigh Stringer

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