Data and ESG will rise as global trends: Swinburne

Data and ESG will rise as global trends: Swinburne

Environmental issues and the way in which companies use and store data will be huge issues for global financial services, experts have claimed. 

Dr Kay Swinburne, vice-chairperson of financial services for KPMG in the UK, told attendees at the Association of British Insurers' virtual 2021 conference there were two main themes that would emerge over the coming years.

She said the first would be the continued rise of environmental, social and governance issues. "There is a global appetite for making sure every sector does its part, especially with regards to the short-term climate change commitments. 

"The UK has a leading part to play in terms of stress testing for the sector and, with the US renewing its backing of the Paris Agreement, the ESG trend is accelerating."

She said the other big trend was data, which "has no boundaries". She explained: "You need to be able to transfer data across from provider to provider in a new digitised world, and this comes with a greater responsibility to keep it safe and secure. This will be a big issue for the insurance sector globally. It will be front and centre."

Also on the panel was Pat McFadden MP, the shadow economic secretary. He agreed that the environmental agenda across the world would "influence investments and behaviours" significantly. 

However, he also believes the re-emergence of the US as a global player, and the effect of Covid-19, will shape the way in which we move and operate. 

He told attendees: "The most striking and obvious geopolitical shift in the past few months has been the change in the US administration, with President Biden saying that America is back and there is no more a nationalist, 'America First' agenda. This is a big shift.

"But let us consider Covid. This has accelerated the way we do things, such as learning, or how we are working or doing our shopping. 

"I do not think we will all be shifting back to the economy of February 2020 and the way we did things then. The government will need to think about the impact of the great acceleration Covid has brought about. Some people have called it 10 years of change within a year."

He also said while China remains as a big driver of the world economy, Europe is moving forward without the UK and the US has returned to a global stage, the UK will need to think about where it now fits in on the world stage.