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The Federation of European Independent Financial Advisers

2020 – 2021

COP26: ‘Finance Day’ through the EU lens

For the EU, COP26 was a crucial tool for getting the rest of the world to match its bold climate ambitions, as well as ensuring a level playing field. Cicero’s EU team provide an overview on the progress made, and the potential impacts for businesses in the EU, and beyond.

How to scrutinise an ESG fund

Advisers must navigate an ever-expanding ESG fund universe that exists without a central regulatory system. The myriad ESG guidelines that exist – some international, some national and some produced by companies themselves – make this even more confusing. Here are five tips for scrutinising the ever-expanding ESG market.

Authentic ESG investing

The lens has moved from ESG being a challenge to an opportunity, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic. Demand has accelerated for thematic and focused portfolios, and asset managers are responding with a wide range of targeted funds. Themes include sustainable infrastructure, water, clean energy, and agribusiness.

Advisers must put ESG funds under the microscope

Advisers must do more to scrutinise and challenge ESG funds, the FCA has said. It has tasked advisers with increasing scrutiny on asset managers and ‘interrogating consumer needs and how they are being met’. Where the FCA goes, other regulators often follow.

China's ambitious climate targets come with unique challenges

The spread of droughts and floods in China has reached vociferous levels. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s announcement that China was targeting peak emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060 helps set the stage for China to take a lead on climate actions….

What a new ESG profiling tool told me about myself

EnlightenESG is a new, free and independently managed online ESG profiling tool. Its developers, hope that all advisers will use it as part of their risk profiling and suitability process to help inform decisions about clients’ investments….

Impact investing and sustainability

The fundamental shift towards more purpose-driven investing represents an opportunity for advisers to engage positively with existing and prospective clients. This guide has been written to serve as primer for private wealth professionals to help them on their journey of learning and knowledge building. It includes an introduction to key concepts and terminology, guidance …

ESG in 2021: an update

The rapidly growing focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters that marked 2020 continued to shape events for companies operating or based in the U.K. and Europe in 2021. Discussions of ESG are occurring at all levels, from the boardroom to investors to employees, and governments, regulators and companies are all being encouraged to take…

Evidence increasing that ESG investments outperform

Two key sustainability indices outperformed the MSCI World index from about mid-2014 to date. The debate is still about whether ESG provides better performance. However, companies that are well managed from an ESG perspective are generating greater returns than the market. Investors could have screened out about ninety percent of bankruptcies of S&P…

Singapore requires mandatory sustainability disclosure

The Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo) told a media briefing this week that it will be compulsory for stock issuers to make climate-related disclosure in their sustainability reports, in line with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

What Europe's SFDR means for Switzerland

The Swiss Federal Council relies on cooperation between industries, rather than legal regulations, at least for now. According to the Council, sustainability is a great opportunity for the Swiss financial industry. Currently, the Council is taking on the role of mediator and is conducting an intensive dialogue with the industry and interested parties while working for an optimal..

Hong Kong regulator focuses on climate

Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission will require fund managers to factor climate change related risks into their investment and risk management processes. It will be implemented in phases with the first phase to begin this month.

European Commission adopts a new Sustainable Finance Strategy

Financial institutions, including banks, asset managers, investment firms and insurance/reinsurance companies, will have to disclose the share of environmentally sustainable economic activities in the total assets they finance or invest in.

SFDR delayed by six months following concerns over greenwashing

On 8th July 2021, the European Commission informed the European Council that the implementation of level 2 of the Sustainable Financial Disclosure Regulation (SFDR), known as the Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS), will be delayed by six months from 1st January 2022 until 1st July 2022. The RTS contains detailed rules on the content, methodologies and….

Will the EU Green Bond Standard transform the market?

The European Commission has published its long-awaited proposal for a regulation on European green bonds, the “European Green Bond Standard” or “EU GBS”. This proposal was published as part of a broader new EU Strategy for Financing the Transition to a Sustainable Economy.

Lack of regional ESG products causing ‘unintended risks’ in managed funds

The small number of regional ESG products on the market is potentially causing unintended biases when creating managed portfolios, it has been warned.

Free ratings service offers clear insights into ESG risks

While there’s no substitute for looking at individual companies in detail, it’s a time consuming process. Professional investors and advisers can use specialist ESG rating providers to speed things up but they are expensive, and probably out of the reach of most. However, you can access ESG headline ratings from specialist Sustainalytics’ free of charge.

Ditch the tick-boxes: 10-step ESG guide for advisers

There is so much noise around responsible investment at the moment, but how exactly do you prepare and start to engage with your clients in this area? Here is a useful guide, taking in everything from fancy buzzwords to segmentation and Prod.

How are pension schemes meeting net-zero ambitions?

In a discussion moderated by Mark Carney, major pension scheme CEOs discussed their views on what has to happen next to reach ambitious climate targets.

ESG consistency and commitment set funds apart

Morningstar has identified key traits that make fund houses stand out for ESG credentials, as part of new evaluations about ESG factors in investment processes.

ESG-related changes to the IDD

A comprehensive package of measures to improve the transition towards more sustainable finance activities in the EU was adopted by the European Commission on 21st April 2021. It included six delegated acts which will amend various sectoral regimes, including the Insurance Distribution Directive.

Are green bonds the route to sustainable fixed income?

It is fair to say that fixed income funds have lagged their equity peers in terms of adoption of environmental, social and governance criteria. Partly, this is structural – bond holders have less leverage than equity holders in bringing about change.

The (unfinished) SFDR enters into effect – where do we stand now in terms of ESG disclosure?Don’t forget the ‘S’ and the ‘G’

A first set of transparency requirements of the Sustainability Finance Disclosure Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2019/2088 or “SFDR”) will enter into force on 10 March 2021.

Don’t forget the ‘S’ and the ‘G’

Environmental funds and infrastructure projects stole the spotlight from social and governance opportunities. Since the start of the pandemic, the ‘E’ of ESG has been firmly in focus. Governments have recognised the opportunity to tackle the climate…

Will the SFDR fill advisers’ ESG gaps?

New legislation due to come into effect in March promises to pave the way for better reporting and disclosure of ESG risks. The Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation comes hand in hand with the EU’s new taxonomy, designed to bring clarity …

Sustainable finance – are you ready for 10th March 2021?

The Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation has implications for investment services licence holders – defined as Financial Market Participants, Financial Advisers, and Financial Products, with disclosure requirements applying both at “entity” level and at “product” level. Here is a short summary of the requirements.

EC: report on renewed sustainable finance strategy

The European Commission has published a summary report of its consultation on the EU sustainable finance strategy.

ESG & investment – return on sustainability

The current regulations of the EU Commission and the increasing demand from investors mean that ESG or sustainability criteria will be of decisive importance in the future, not only for impact investors.

ESMA publishes final rules on Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation

ESMA has published a final report on the SFDR, which requires asset managers and financial advisers to make a range of sustainability-related disclosures to investors.

Will SFDR be meaningful and not a confusing productivity drain?

It did not have an auspicious start and even after a rewrite the rules may prove excessively prescriptive. The EU’s green agenda is taking major strides this year with the launch of the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Requirements.

ESG disclosure regulation

Sustainable investing and ESG are rising to the top of the agenda in the financial services industry, with a vast array of new industry bodies and initiatives both in the EU and globally. This document is entitled “New ESG disclosure regulation (SFDR) – what private banks, wealth managers and advisers need to know” (and is only 8 pages long).