Webinar of ESG in times of COVID-19

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COVID-19 has brought a major impact to the ESG investing market globally, yet creating opportunities and faults for investors and listed companies in this pandemic. Our recently held webinar was successfully held with over 150 participants, which featured a roundtable discussion with a lineup of the moderator: Ms. Tracy Wong Harris, Deputy Secretary General of Hong Kong Green Finance Association (HKGFA) and expert speakers from the ESG investing realms, including  IR. CS Ho, General Manager, BEAM Society Ltd (BSL), Ms. Katherine Ng, Manager Director, Listing Department, HKEX, Mr. Sebastian Schiele, Head of Passive Mandates Sales Europe & Asia Pacific, DWS, Frankfurt am Main, Mr. Tim Chan, Senior Analyst, ESG Research and Integration, Manulife Investment Management. Feel free to read the highlights or watch the webinar below.

Watch the Full Webinar Video

ESG in Times of COVID-19

29 May 2020

Moderator:

Ms. Tracy Wong Harris, Deputy Secretary General of Hong Kong Green Finance Association (HKGFA)

Speakers:

IR. CS Ho, General Manager, BEAM Society Ltd (BSL)

Ms. Katherine Ng, Manager Director, Listing Department, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX)

Mr. Sebastian Schiele, Head of Passive Mandates Sales Europe & Asia Pacific, DWS, Frankfurt am Main

Mr. Tim Chan, Senior Analyst, ESG Research and Integration, Manulife Investment Management.

Key takeaways from the webinar

  • Risks are emerging from the real asset markets but opportunities and investments in ESG are rising globally, especially in the healthcare and information technology realms.
  • The pandemic reflected on the importance of reviewing the resilience and adaptation of companies towards sudden occurrences, then formulates plans through the overall improvement of health, safety, and well-being of the employees, environmental protection, etc.
  • It is crucial to have systematic assessment and certification standards to measure a company’s investment and financial situations as themes regarding the environment would be the defining opportunity for the future situation.

Ms. Tracy Wong Harris, Deputy Secretary General of Hong Kong Green Finance Association (HKGFA) noted on the importance of the Social aspect of ESG. ‘ESG investments outperform standard indices, the increasing focus on ESG regulation and finally let’s not forget it is our responsibility to ensure we have a Green and Sustainable Recovery regardless of what our roles are’ said Tracy.

CS Ho, General Manager, BEAM Society Ltd (BSL), reiterated on the importance of having a green contingency plan for unexpected scenarios. With the current situation that large firms are investing more in ESG than SMEs, it is hoped that the large firms would continue to support the development. In terms of ESG investment, CS suggested having a clear framework of assessment and certification to measure ESG products and companies, such that the investors could experience higher data transparency for better choices.

Ms. Katherine Ng, Manager Director, Listing Department, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEX), shared her view from a regulator’s perspective in which ESG companies should put more emphasis on the social side of the ESG factor, by engaging with the community and improving the wellness of their employees. An important lesson for firms is to gain goodwill through proactively outreaching to the community, with an initiative and demonstration of social cooperation.

Mr. Sebastian Schiele, Head of Passive Mandates Sales Europe & Asia Pacific, DWS, Frankfurt am Main, spoke on the positive outlook on the future of ESG investments. During the COVID-19 period, the ESG investments are seen outperforming by 3-4% globally. While there is only around 50% of the global GDP pinpointing a carbon net-zero target, the other half would be a great opportunity to make a transition towards ESG perspectives, creating additional jobs and opportunities as well. Another focus mentioned by Sebastian is the significance of better data, broader coverage and clearer framework to make the ESG data transparent and helpful for the investors.

Mr. Tim Chan, Senior Analyst, ESG Research and Integration, Manulife Investment Management, provided several insights in investors and asset managers’ perspectives for the future trends in ESG investment. In the short term, more frequent work-from-home scenarios may give rise to dynamism and diversity in working styles in Asia. It can be expected that companies would localize or diversify their supply chain to tackle travel restriction problems. Tim used the example of the European Union allocating 25% recovery budget for climate investment to demonstrate the support from governments across the globe to lead a bright path for future ESG investing and a green recovery.

(Left to Right, Top to Bottom) Ms. Tracy Wong Harris, Deputy Secretary General of Hong Kong Green Finance Association (HKGFA), Ms. Katherine Ng, Manager Director, Listing Department, HKEX, Mr. Tim Chan, Senior Analyst, ESG Research and Integration, Manulife Investment Management, IR. CS Ho, General Manager, BEAM Society Ltd (BSL), and Mr. Sebastian Schiele, Head of Passive Mandates Sales Europe & Asia Pacific, DWS, Frankfurt am Main.

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