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It's Good To Partner Up For Maximum ESG Results - Coutts

Tom Burroughes

26 May 2021

to handle voting and shareholder engagement with companies. In all these cases, and more, Coutts knows that it makes sense to use others’ expertise and draw it together with their own to benefit the end-client, Syed continued. 

While not the largest of private banks by size of assets, its AuM gives Coutts muscle. Along with Scottish-based sister bank Adam & Co, the private banking arm of NatWest had a total of £32.6 billion in assets under management and administration (AuMA) as of 29 April.

Coutts’ victory in the ESG category for this year’s WealthBriefing European Awards is particularly satisfying because the firm can show clients, and its own staff, that a lot of hard work is paying off, Syed said. 

Influence and pressure

Syed’s colleague, Leslie Gent, who is head of responsible investing at Coutts, added that using the influence of a bank like Coutts is an important lever. “Influence is an area we have pushed really hard on. We cannot also do this on our own. Right from the outset we identified partners that we could do better things with,” she said. 

The approach which Coutts' senior managers took was to identify the problem, set out a framework and a transition path to solutions that could work.

“This is something that can only be done over a period of time and we are only part of the way on this,” Syed said. Even in a decade’s time, Coutts won’t necessarily be able to have completely nailed down the ESG issue."

An important area is educating and informing clients and Coutts’ own employees on ESG concerns. And given Coutts’ platform, it can bring in top-shelf experts and commentators to enthuse clients – a recent event involved former Bank of England Governor Mark Carney speaking alongside famous UK broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough. There aren’t many institutions that can draw in such people, Syed added.