Opinion  

Learning the language of ESG isn't easy but practice will help

Ben Goss

Ben Goss

But without the adviser in the middle to interpret the disclosures and ensure that capital is channelled in directions that support the carbon transition, it will all be for nothing.

That means advisers need the systems and data that will enable their clients to make informed decisions. And, most importantly, they need to be able to understand the data and its implications.

A sustainability labelling system similar to those used for heating systems or appliances will be readily digestible for consumers, but will necessarily simplify away a lot of complex information. Advisers will need to be able to unpack that for their clients.

This is not an easy task. I studied environmental science and geography at university back in the late 1980s, and we were already talking about global warming and climate change. In more recent times I have set aside a few hours a week to get to grips with the subject – the role of the various greenhouse gases, the different measurements of carbon intensity, the possibilities for carbon capture. It helps when I’m talking to experts, and yet of course I am still only scratching the surface.

Fortunately, help is out there. The CFA Institute, for example, has developed a certificate in environmental, social and governance investing. Companies like us, as well as many asset managers, are sharing their knowledge through training academies and conferences.

And with recognition growing over the past few years of the centrality of the adviser to the journey to net zero, we can expect the support available to continue to improve.

Later this month I’m heading to Paris to watch the rugby. While I’m there, I hope to engage some friendly locals in conversation to acquire some new vocabulary and improve my fluency. We are all, especially in this industry, lifelong language learners. Let’s keep plugging away.

Ben Goss is chief executive at Dynamic Planner