Climate Action

Leon S. Calvert on how Refinitiv is promoting sustainable finance

Ahead of the Sustainable Investment Forum North America 2019, taking place in New York on the 25 September 2019 during NYC Climate Week, we caught up with Leon S. Calvert, Head of Sustainable Investing & Fund Rating at Refinitiv, to discuss how Refinitiv is promoting sustainable finance.

  • 27 August 2019
  • Rachel Cooper

Ahead of the Sustainable Investment Forum North America 2019, taking place in New York on the 25 September 2019 during NYC Climate Week, we caught up with Leon S. Calvert, Head of Sustainable Investing & Fund Rating at Refinitiv, to discuss how Refinitiv is promoting sustainable finance.

Let’s start with some background on Refinitiv and your role there?

Refinitiv is one of the world’s largest providers of financial markets data and infrastructure, formerly the Financial and Risk business of Thomson Reuters which was acquired by investors led by Blackstone in 2019. I head up the Sustainable Investing and Fund Ratings businesses. One of the key assets I am responsible for is our global database of corporate disclosure on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) metrics, which we aggregate, normalise and create analytics to disseminate to the institutional finance community including the world’s largest asset managers and asset owners, many of whom use this data at the core of their ESG investment allocation models.

How do you see the investment market changing now that sustainable investments are firmly increasing each year?

There is a maturity taking place in the market in which ESG factors are becoming fundamental to all investment allocation decisions rather than being seen an alternative asset class, so yes, sustainable investments are rapidly increasing each year, but more than that, we are starting to see that the mainstreaming of sustainable investing where sustainability factors inform the basic institutional investing processes.

The regulatory overhang on the market, the increasing influence of millennial investors and employees, the need for active fund managers to find sources of competitive advantage to drive alpha, and the general growing awareness of climate challenges and the need for action, all contribute to this growing trend which ensures it is not simply a zeitgeist issue.

What are some of the challenges in promoting sustainable finance?

There is still a general perception that investors need to sacrifice returns to invest in sustainability despite various analytics to the contrary. But broader resistance associated with promoting sustainable investing is decreasing rapidly based on the growing awareness by consumers and investors alike as I allude to above. The challenges instead become to the lack of transparency and analytics associated with sustainability related data and benchmarking.

At Refinitiv we strive to be the industry standard for ESG related corporate disclosure data. This helps to create transparency and auditability in the space. In our scoring system we penalise companies for non-disclosure with the view to promoting superior standards of reporting to better inform investors. We want the supply to meet the demand and to drive transparency around what has historically been an opaque area.

What is the importance of events such as the Sustainable Investment Forum for businesses interested in investment?

Driving awareness around sustainable investing continues to be critical especially as sustainability means so many different things to so many people. Creating a community of leading professionals in the financial markets to enable and facilitate dialogue on how to think about this space, what problems to solve in what order, sharing of best practise and establishing the elements which are clearly in the common good and need to be addressed in unison is extremely valuable. Corporations and the financial community are having to fill in some of the holes left open by today’s politicians around climate and other critical issues so the process of knowledge sharing and outcome focused goal setting through the Sustainable Investment Forum is something Refinitiv is fully supportive of.

Refinitiv is a Gold Sponsor at the Sustainable Investment Forum North America, taking place in New York on 25 September 2019 during Climate Week NYC, find out more here

Visit Refinitiv's website here.