ESG Conference of Rosbank and Kommersant: Responsible Financing as a Powerful Force for Positive Transformation

    20 May

The conference organized by Rosbank and Kommersant was held on May,18 and was aimed to draw attention to the importance of the ESG approach, raise awareness of society and business about all its advantages. The conference participants discussed global and Russian trends in sustainable development, ESG risks, tools and practices of responsible investment, and other aspects related to the implementation of ESG approach.

The speakers of the conference were Ilya Polyakov, CEO of Rosbank, Sergey Shvetsov, First Deputy CEO of the Bank of Russia, Alexey Ievlev, Head of the Corporate Business Directorate of Rosbank, Dmitry Aksakov, Vice President of VEB.RF, Evgenia Onushchenko, Director of Corporate Finance at Polymetal International plc, Alexey Voronov, Deputy General Director for Finance and Economics at METALLOINVEST, Michala Markussen, Chief Economist and Head of the Societe Generale Research Center, Hasina Py, Head of Export Finance at Societe Generale, Artem Larin, Head of the Sustainable Development and Clean Technologies Practice in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe and the CIS countries, Partner of EY, Jean-Claude Berthelot, Commercial Director of Sustainalytics, Sandrine Anguard, Head of Structural ESG Products at Societe Generale, Olivier Descorp, Managing Director for Rating Consulting, Consulting and Financing Group at Societe Generale.

The conference included several plenary sessions dedicated to discussing the global and Russian ESG landscape and the growing importance of the banking sector in terms of accumulating and deepening market expertise on the topic of responsible financing. The conference participants also discussed the issues of ESG and climate risk management in operational business processes, as well as the impact of company reporting standards and the degree of responsibility of the verifier on the efficiency of risk management.

"We are witnessing global changes that are currently taking place in the world in terms of the climate, social and regulatory agenda. All of these changes require not only trillions of dollars of funding, but also new approaches, regulatory initiatives and standards. In this regard, capital markets play a very important role and banks, in addition to financial expertise, become the center of ESG expertise. At Societe Generale we believe that all these changes are impossible without our clients: from global corporations to individuals. The mission of SG, Rosbank is a part of which, is: "To build a sustainable future together with our clients by offering innovative and responsible financial solutions." In 2021, Rosbank entered a new strategic cycle. We defined a strategy until 2025 in it, which was called "Responsible Growth". This means that the topic of ESG is one of the main and key issues in our new strategy, " said Ilya Polyakov, CEO of Rosbank, at the opening of the conference.

Ilya Polyakov also noted that today the cost of borrowed funds for some companies becomes more profitable when ESG factors are taken into account in their activities. "I am sure that in the near future the ESG maturity of companies will further affect the cost of borrowing and access to financing markets," he said.

A special session was devoted to the development of the responsible finance market and the interest of the companies themselves in the relevant products and services, in particular: which one, the bank or the client, should act as a motivator in creating and offering ESG products? How and what products of responsible financing can support not only the "green", but also the social agenda?

"This is not a question of profit, but of the needs of the population and the solution of economic problems not at the expense of future generations," said Sergey Shvetsov, First Deputy CEO of the Bank of Russia. – Yes, in the mid-term, there are cheaper options for attracting financing, which in the future, due to this approach, may just become very expensive. The level of society development  now raises questions that we should take care of reducing the level of consumption, not spending what belongs to future generations. Research shows that companies that pay attention to the green component are less risky. Accordingly, such companies receive large discounts on the market, place their debt at a rate of 4 to 10 basic ponts below the average level. With low market rates, what we see in developed countries is a significant difference. The second factor is administrative. If the company does not bring the business in line with the requirements of the countries to which it wants to export goods, then these markets will be closed. This is already a question of the physical possibility of being present in these markets."

The session devoted to investment solutions for individuals, which are based on ESG principles, aroused particular interest of the participants. During the session, experts discussed ways to integrate ESG principles into such products, the motivation of Western private investors (profitability vs awareness), and whether private investors can become a driver of sustainable development on an equal basis with institutional investors.

The conference concluded with a session dedicated to the independent assessment of companies ' progress towards sustainable development and building the trust of all stakeholders: the public, regulators, shareholders, investors and counterparties.

In total, the conference was attended by more than 1000 representatives of business, the financial community, rating agencies and the media.