TCFD: helping the wealth industry make its mark on climate change

TCFD

TCFD (Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures) reporting will be a challenge for many firms. While the initial requirements relate to larger institutions and certain client portfolios, firms with GB£5 billion-plus Assets Under Management (AUM) will also have to report with comparisons to data collected in 2023, meaning careful planning is needed now. This historic comparison data will add further to the complexity of the 100-plus data points in the Investment Association TCFD report template. In addition, this data will need to be aggregated across client portfolios for entity reporting. Lastly, there is clear direction from the regulator that on-demand reporting is expected to be made available to all clients in due course. So, there are significant challenges in TCFD reporting.

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority helped set the pace for the global adoption of Environmental, Social and Governance standards in financial services when at the end of 2021 it became the first securities regulator to introduce mandatory TCFD-aligned disclosure requirements for asset managers and asset owners. This is already having a huge impact which will only grow.

The report content, in line with other sustainability-related regulatory required reports, has been proscriptive, which removes ambiguity, but does not necessarily make it easy. The Investment Association has published helpful templates for segregated and pooled fund portfolios. The first set of reports for institutions with over GB£50 billion in AUM will need to be submitted by the end of June 2023, to cover the 2022 calendar year; those with GB£5 billion-plus in AUM will be subject to the rules from 1 January 2023, with their first reports due end-June 2024. By that point, a full 98% of the UK’s asset management industry will need to comply with the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures’ rules. Part of the challenge will be the requirement to provide a year-on-year comparison of the portfolio metrics reported.

A good deal of voluntary reporting has also been taking place, and pressure both top-down from regulators and bottom-up from investors will likely mean that most firms will want to get their TCFD house in order well ahead of the second-tier deadlines kicking in. This yoking together of compliance and client demands is a very welcome development for those who care about environmental action as we all should.

The TCFD report focuses on the investment organisation’s governance-related arrangements through a climate change lens and provides a consistent way of reporting the risks and opportunities faced in a portfolio as a result of it. It is safe to assume that most end-investors do very much want to be apprised of the climate impact of their financial holdings today, and it is certain that providing such insights will be a hygiene factor for tomorrow’s core client base. Research recently conducted by Compeer found that 80% of clients want access to ESG-compliant investments in their portfolio, with this figure rising to 94% for clients under the age of 40. With wildfires and floods making the impacts of climate change clear for all to see, the “E” reigns supreme among the Environmental, Social and Governance concerns investors want to see reflected in their portfolios now.

Thought leadership through technology
Whether a firm provides a sustainable investment offering – and an expanded TCFD report offers an opportunity to demonstrate this to clients – or not, the key to efficient reporting and avoiding issues will be a systematic approach. This brings the benefit of information and analysis across the client base, uncovering risks, providing calls to action, and giving insight to the investment manager and central investment teams alike.

At BITA Risk, we have always prided ourselves on having a finger on the pulse of both domestic and global regulatory change and cultivating a deep understanding of where the rule books might be heading – in light of both the spirit and the letter of the law. This has served us extremely well in developing our products to help keep institutions ahead of compliance changes, rather than just reacting to them. The range of institutions we work with has also enabled us to become something of a thought-leader and conduit for conveying best practices as the industry grapples with ever-changing regulatory regimes. As such, more and more we have a highly consultative role.

No doubt conscious that the UK’s institutions are having to cope with a barrage of new rules, not least its sweeping new Consumer Duty regime, the FCA is currently asking only for fairly limited TCFD reporting to clients. However, the expectation is clearly that all investors will have climate impact information at their fingertips in short order. Clients’ expectations for ever more personalisation being as they are, we can further predict that firms will need to be able to drill into these metrics in any number of ways too.

Having considered the requirements to provide year-on-year metrics at a portfolio level and to be able to aggregate metrics across client segments, we have suggested using this data to identify stranded assets, portfolios with climate risk exposure and to demonstrate a firm’s changing exposure through time.

With a structured data approach, communicating to clients the investment firm’s stewardship activity and mitigating reasons for holding carbon-heavy stocks, not only becomes easy, but drives a demonstration of the firm’s worth to the client.

How to make climate impact information relevant and readily comprehensible is not just a matter of client satisfaction, although it certainly is that; helping people to make investment decisions which reflect their priorities in the widest sense is what the disclosure rules are all about.

The TCFD rules aim to serve the most high-minded of principles, but as we help to steer capital to more sustainable deployment, the industry must stay firmly in the realm of their practical application too. We have been delighted to offer institutions guidance on firm, product and ad-hoc reporting requirements, metrics definitions, reporting templates and more. Personally, my work has never been more interesting, or more valuable in a societal sense.

Another portfolio monitoring lens
While climate impact disclosures are important from humanitarian and environmental perspectives, there is a regulatory drive to report soon. We like to emphasise to firms which may feel daunted, that this is just another lens through which to view portfolios – and therein arguably lies our particular strength. We have spent decades now enabling firms to master their metrics on performance, risk, suitability, and costs, meaning that we have abundant transferable insights on how to make TCFD reporting work optimally in everyday operations too.

Firms’ first concern will undoubtedly be how to avoid manual processes and being dragged back to “Excel hell”; then, relatedly, they will want to know which processes need to be in place to facilitate portfolio analysis and change. With profitability remaining under pressure, adviser productivity has to remain a top concern. Running analysis for individual portfolios and collating historic data will take time, as will aggregating across groups of clients for entity reporting. Creating structured data and an automated framework will alleviate pressure on the adviser and give the client a better experience.

These are undeniably challenging times for business leaders, but we see a gratifying proportion keeping the competitive advantages available from these pioneering reporting requirements front of mind. Here, we have been assisting institutions to develop trend reports to demonstrate progress on positive investment practices at both the client and entity levels to great effect. Helping the individual know the impact they are making will be a very powerful thing for both client satisfaction and retention. Being able to demonstrate the difference the firm as a whole is contributing is, in my view, a ready-made marketing campaign. I know that many Chief Marketing Officers agree.

In all, the TCFD requirements represent a particularly novel kind of compliance challenge, but one which we are seen leading firms rapidly embrace as an important differentiating factor. Sophisticated clients can already see that espousing ESG credentials is one thing, but that evidencing them robustly and acting on them is quite another. We look forward to working with even more firms in the latter camp as the industry moves to make its mark on climate change.

As leaders in portfolio monitoring and governance, BITA Risk analyses circa GB£180 billion of wealth management assets every night for a range of Wealth management firms. At our core is the quick, efficient analysis and aggregation of data, with seamless and efficient workflows for governance and client managers alike. We have extended our solutions to deliver what firms need now for TCFD, together with significant added benefits for the firm, following the IA (Investment Association) template as a base and then adding analysis and client-facing interpretations.

By Daryl Roxburgh, President and Global Head BITA Risk® part of the corfinancial® Group

If you would like to discuss the points raised, please email me at BITARisk@corfinancialgroup.com.

In the next two reviews, we will look at the monitoring of ESG and Ethical Restrictions and then Consumer Duty. Sign-up here to receive these directly.

For more information please visit https://www.corfinancialgroup.com/financial-software-products/bita-risk/ or contact us at BITARisk@corfinancialgroup.com.

BITA Risk wins innovation award for its ‘ESG Manager’ private client solution

Wealth Briefing - Award-2022-Winner

London, 31st March 2022 – BITA Risk® (part of the corfinancial® group) announces that it won the coveted ‘Best Innovative WealthTech Solution B2B’ award at the Tenth Annual WealthBriefing European Awards 2022 for its BITA Wealth® ESG Manager private client solution.

Showcasing ‘best of breed’ services and solutions in the European region, the awards were designed to recognise outstanding organisations grouped by specialism and geography which the prestigious panel of independent judges deemed to have ‘demonstrated innovation and excellence during the last year’.

ClearView Financial Media’s CEO, and Publisher of WealthBriefing, Stephen Harris said: “The organisations and individuals who triumphed in these awards are all worthy winners, and I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to the winners.”

BITA Wealth ESG Manager supports evolving ESG strategies by helping firms to understand, manage and monitor portfolio ESG exposures, enabling the integration of ESG analysis and reporting within a firm’s investment proposition.  Climate, impact, and ethical restrictions dovetail with investment policies to deliver analysis and governance to compliance teams and the wealth managers. This key differentiator enables client managers to deliver a better service to clients in the world of sustainable investing.

Commenting on the firm’s triumph, Daryl Roxburgh, President and Global Head of BITA Risk, said: “We are delighted to have won this award in recognition of our innovative approach to managing the complexities of ESG investments for private clients. While many firms have built sustainability into their central process, only a few can embody it in day-to-day portfolio management and demonstrate this clearly to a client while monitoring that they are in line with the client’s preferences and restrictions. This is what our innovation delivers.”

Wealth Briefing - Award-2022-Winner

BITA Risk selected by Department for International Trade for virtual trade delegation to climate week New York City

New York Climate Week 2021

New York City, September 21, 2021 – corfinancial®, a leading provider of specialist software and services to the financial services sector, announces today that after a highly competitive evaluation process the Department for International Trade (DIT), alongside the City of London CorporationThe Investment Association, and the Green Finance Institute, has selected BITA Risk® (part of the corfinancial group), and ten other UK-headquartered FinTech companies specializing in ESG and #sustainability to join a virtual trade delegation to an international climate summit in New York during September 2021. 

The UK Department for International Trade is partnering with Climate Week NYC for a series of events concerning climate change from September 20th to 30th. The DIT will be showcasing BITA Risk’s award winning BITA WEALTH® software during the trade mission. BITA Wealth delivers a full spectrum of ESG Management capabilities to the advisor and investment manager.

A DIT spokesperson said: “These FinTechs have developed ground-breaking products and services that are already helping companies, investors, consumers, and regulators around the world overcome key challenges in ESG adoption.” Additionally, Daryl Roxburgh, President and Global Head of BITA Risk will be taking part in a roundtable discussion hosted by Rt Hon William Russell, Lord Mayor of London, on the future of financial services innovation as it applies to ESG. This roundtable will bring together FinTech experts from the UK and the US as well as ESG leaders in banking and asset management.

“ESG data, including carbon emissions, is key to investment management, whether viewed from client preference or investment risk and opportunity perspectives. Managing the complexities of this data and delivering bespoke, mass-customized solutions requires good FinTech. We are proud to be helping the transformation in investment transparency and are delighted that BITA Risk has been selected by the DIT for this historic event,” says Daryl Roxburgh.

For more information on Climate Week NYC, please click here

Bruce Hobson in the Sunday Times

Sunday Times - Raconteur

As our CEO Bruce Hobson explains in this article in the UK’s eminent Sunday Times newspaper, ESG is now mainstream and wealth managers must meet the expectations of a new breed of socially-conscious investor, including the most sophisticated clients.

As clients take more interest in how their capital performs and the wider impact of their portfolios on society, investor demands are only going to grow. Effective software that can automate these complex processes lies at the heart of this mission. 

Our BITA Risk solution is helping successful wealth management businesses to not only compete, but to excel in this area. 

BITA Risk logo

BITA Risk signs Charles Stanley as first ‘BITA ESG Manager’ client

ESG - Environmental Social Governance

London, February 2021 – BITA Risk, part of corfinancial, announces that Charles Stanley, one of the UK’s leading wealth management firms, has signed up for the BITA ESG Manager application.

BITA Risk built its reputation on taking complex risk and portfolio data and making it highly accessible within its efficient portfolio management applications. Now it has applied this approach to ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) investment, automating many manual steps through exception management and integrating key data as part of the client profiling and investment processes.

Charles Stanley’s COO, Michael Bennett, commented: “BITA ESG Manager has taken the complexity of ESG factor data and presented it with such clarity that it can be efficiently managed and monitored across large numbers of our clients, forming an integral part of our investment strategy.”

Charles Stanley’s investment managers will benefit from detailed visualisations, helping them to understand exposures, check preference conflicts and assess the impact of ESG-driven changes on risk, yield and return.

Daryl Roxburgh, President and Global Head, BITA Risk: “Recognising a client’s ESG preferences and understanding asset exposures are key to effective portfolio management and analysis. Using exception management to identify any conflicts is the most efficient way of keeping a portfolio within mandate and this, together with innovative client reporting, is how BITA ESG Manager can manage the process with flexibility and on the scale required by Charles Stanley.”

corfinancial partners with data engineering specialists Digiterre

December 2020 – corfinancial, a leading provider of specialist software and services to the financial services sector, announces today that it is collaborating with Digiterre, a software and data engineering consultancy, to build the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) functionality for its BITA Wealth platform.

Ian Murrin, CEO and Founder, Digiterre, said: “We are delighted to collaborate with corfinancial to help build a technology solution for investment managers who increasingly demand the integration of ESG factors into their investment processes. We look forward to providing advanced software and data engineering services to complement corfinancial’s deep domain knowledge and expertise in investment management. The end result is products that are both technically proficient and transformative in nature.”

corfinancial has been significantly investing in its flagship solutions in recent years, acknowledging that the software world needs niche firms like Digiterre with cutting edge skillsets that can help place a product ahead of the changing market demand.

Bruce Hobson, CEO, corfinancial, said: “Digiterre’s specialist data transformation skills and our understanding of what wealth management firms require in order to reduce manual processing and improve the client experience is a powerful combination. We look forward to further projects with Digiterre to ensure that our products are forward-looking and best-in-class.”