Why Sustainability Matters At HSBC


November 6, 2018 | BY Hong Kong Tatler

Tan Siew Meng, regional head of Global Private Banking, Asia-Pacific at HSBC, on why sustainability is central to building a reputation for trust with forward-thinking families

Sustainability, and the need to safeguard our planet’s future, should be high on everyone’s agenda—and these days sustainable investing can mean generating positive returns while also making a positive impact on the world. HSBC Private Banking is committed to leading the way to a sustainable future, partnering with its clients to help finance, manage and shape the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The Bank is providing US$100 billion of green financing, enabling the clean-energy, low-carbon technologies that will help to deliver the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. As part of its mission to reduce emissions, for example, it is investing in renewable energy companies, working towards a future where 100 per cent of its electricity will come from renewable sources by 2030.

But beyond all that, HSBC’s commitment to sustainability shows up in its relationships with its clients, with the Bank organising a range of hands-on activities to help those clients understand the importance of sustainable investment and appreciate the impact they can make.

Building a sustainable future

Tan and her team believe HSBC Private Banking can provide what many clients are looking for by making sustainability core to the investment advice it offers—a strategy that is more relevant to a generation that is now more engaged with social responsibility and stepping into corporate leadership positions (see below : Entrepreneurs get socially conscious). 

HSBC Private Banking’s sustainability programme is different because it shows clients why the topic is important by allowing them to experience and learn for themselves through specially organised experiences. It started out about 10 years ago as a programme to ensure senior staff understood the Bank’s sustainability focus by taking them outside the office to learn about environmental issues first-hand and to appreciate the value of diverse ecosystems; that initiative has now been extended to its clients.

That happened after Jennifer Ting, HSBC Private Banking’s global head of marketing, went to Borneo—and was so impressed by the experience that she felt it should be extended to clients too. “She learnt so much from it, and she felt we should bring it to our clients because the experience was so unique and immersive,” says Tan.

“It is exciting to see that more and more, young entrepreneurs are seeking to build sustainability into their operations from the beginning, in order to make a real difference to society,” says Tan.

Sustainability in action

The clients who visit Borneo often come back full of actionable ideas about how they can make an impact by either putting their businesses on a more sustainable path or starting new businesses and considering investments based on sustainable principles, with HSBC firmly by their side. “We felt that bringing the programme to the private bank’s client base would mean that after learning from it, they could make an impact on society and better understand HSBC’s role in supporting their sustainable ambitions,” says Tan. “We literally take them to the middle of the rainforest to study the impact of climate change and the power of conservation. Our second group has just gone and, again, they came back with an acute sense of the issues involved and a passion to integrate sustainability into their families and family businesses.”

The generous generation

Alongside the deep-dive into sustainability, HSBC Private Banking’s well-recognised Next Generation Programme, which hosts future business leaders, provides additional insight into the role of sustainability in family business and family wealth.

It helps those that are working for or considering joining their family businesses to think about how they can embed sustainability into the company’s agenda. The Bank’s research shows that young entrepreneurs, many of whom are from family businesses, are focussed on making a positive impact on the world, alongside building their career, reputation and overall prosperity for the communities they serve.

“We know that they really do care, and they’re not just thinking about making money from the family business. It is exciting to see that more and more, young entrepreneurs are seeking to build sustainability into their operations from the beginning, in order to make a real difference to society,” says Tan. HSBC Private Banking’s sustainability focus and support gives them a real opportunity to do just that.

Entrepreneurs get socially conscious

HSBC Private Banking researched the motivations and aspirations of more than 3,700 entrepreneurs around the world for its Essence of Enterprise 2018 report. It found that:

One in five entrepreneurs globally considers social responsibility, being active in the community or environmental responsibility as their top priority as a business owner

In the Asia-Pacific region, 34% of entrepreneurs aged under 35 identified impact as their chief motivation, compared to 14% of those aged 55 or over

38% of Asia-Pacific entrepreneurs under 35 highlighted social and environmental concerns as being extremely important when they were setting up their current businesses, compared to 17% of those aged 55 or over

The information contained in this article has not been reviewed in the light of your individual circumstances and is for information purposes only. It does not purport to provide legal, taxation or other advice and should not be taken as such. No client or other reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of the content of this article without seeking specific professional advice.

Issued by The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited.

Read more about HSBC Private Banking here.

Photography: Until Chan | Hair & Makeup Touch up: Stephanie Lee from Wendy's Workshop

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