Mohammad Kamal Syed, managing director and head of investment management at Coutts & Co, tells Finextra Research of the ‘root and branch uplift’ in the firm’s investment decision making to address ESG goals.
Rather than simply creating a series of socially-responsible or impact funds and investments, Coutts decided that all decisions throughout the investment process should be seen through a filter of what is and is not responsible.
“If you set impact funds up against your traditional business, it means than anything that cannot be classed as ‘responsible’ must, by definition, be ‘irresponsible,” Syed says.
“We decided that everything we do end-to-end must be taken through that responsible/irresponsible filter.”
This throws up questions about how the business operates across the board, relating to how it makes decisions, how they are then implemented and crucially how the impact is measured.
Syed believes Coutts’ adjustment to this way of doing business in the last few years is testament to the central role that ESG considerations play in investment management and lending.
He describes this as a process of “bringing purpose to life”.
Coutts was founded in 1692 and is most recognised in the UK as being the bank of the Queen.
Throughout its three and a quarter centuries of existence, Syed says the bank has always held at its heart the purpose of helping its stakeholders, whether they be clients, colleagues or
“That permeates over 300 years and the more you peel the Coutts aura, the more your realise that it was always a purposeful organisation but that has come more to the forefront recently,” he says.