#SRI — 11.03.2020

Responsible Investments: Four Questions to Eleonore Bedel

Eleonore Bedel

Global Head of Sustainable Investment
BNP Paribas Wealth Management

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The United Nations Sustainable Goals (SDGs) and the landmark Paris COP21 are now the foundation of the world’s ambitions to address the financing of sustainable projects. As such, sustainable and responsible investing (SRI) has become one of the most dynamic themes of the last several years, attracting constant innovation and increasing interest from clients and bankers alike.

Eleonore Bedel, our Global Head of Sustainable Investment at BNP Paribas Wealth Management, leads our efforts towards driving sustainable investing.  

We had the chance to meet with Eleonore and discuss the main market trends, as well as the concrete business results and BNP Paribas Wealth Management’s global and broadening approach to integrating additional sustainable criteria across the investment process.

It was a great opportunity to learn from Eleonore about an innovative tool, co-constructed with our clients, myImpact, that helps BNP Paribas’ clients learn about sustainable development and ESG topics, as well as define their impact profile.

Eleonore, you have been working on sustainability topics for more than 10 years. Could you provide us with some context and trends that you have observed?

A trend around sustainable investing has emerged in Northern Europe but is gradually spreading across the continent and around the world, with different levels of maturity in the different countries. Today, investing sustainably is seen as an opportunity by our clients and is becoming one of the fastest growing sectors.

BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur 2018 & 2019 Reports have already demonstrated the growing interest of entrepreneurs in aligning their investments with their values.

First of all, according to the report, 39% of Elite Entrepreneur respondents consider ‘positive impact’ to be core to how they assess business performance, compared to 10% of respondents two years ago. This significant increase clearly demonstrates a shift in the entrepreneurs’ mindset, and this across all regions. 

Secondly, 55% have also declared they committed a proportion of their wealth to achieving socially responsible outcomes. This is yet another demonstration of evolutions related to the ways Elite Entrepreneurs invest their wealth.

In addition to this, 80% believe that entrepreneurship is the best way to generate a global or local impact. Indeed, their investments can amplify their ambitions to create a better environment for the next generation while reflecting their values.

What we see today, across the world, is that entrepreneurs consistently place sustainable investments in their top five choices for growth potential: especially those based in China, the UK and Spain. According to the BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur 2018 & 2019 Reports, UHNWs strongly believe sustainable investing represents one of the most promising opportunities for the coming five years.

BNP Paribas Wealth Management has been working hard to accompany its clients in their impact journey, while raising awareness among its employees in supporting this mobilisation. Could you please tell us more about your commitment?

In September 2017, BNP Paribas created a dedicated Company Engagement Department that works with all BNP Paribas business lines in order to further define and implement the company’s engagement strategy relating to key fields for the future of our society: economic development, the environment and energy transition; social inclusion and regional development; diversity and respect of human rights. This strategy is built around the United Nations’ SDGs and in line with the COP21 Framework and the Paris Agreement ambitions. BNP Paribas Wealth Management is dedicated to achieve our Group’s ambition.

BNP Paribas Wealth Management was one of the first private banks to launch an SRI offering 14 years ago. We have reached today €15bn of client assets in sustainable investments with a strong short-term goal to reach €20bn by 2020. And we will easily go beyond this as we are changing scale by assessing the sustainability level of all our investment products, across asset classes. These increasing AuM clearly demonstrate the growing appetite from our clients to align their investments with their convictions.

At BNP Paribas, we believe that working closely with other actors reinforces our commitments and allows us to engage ever deeper in broad economic and societal transformation. To best respond to their expectations, our entire SRI offer has been developed as a collaborative effort with all our partners, internally and externally. Indeed at BNP Paribas, we believe that working closely with other actors allows us to engage deeper in broad economic and societal transformation. This is how we achieve our main roles that are accompanying our clients and supporting sustainable finance.

As part of our client journey, we have also deployed an innovative tool, myImpact, to help our clients define their impact profile! We have become therefore the first bank that co-created with our clients a digital tool, which allows our clients to identify their positive impact preferences and priorities, in line with the 17 UN SDGs.

Could you please tell us more about the tool and its objectives?

Of course. myImpact - “Give Meaning to Your Wealth”-, co-created with our clients, is a profiling and educational solution that helps its users define their expectations as investors and/or philanthropists facing sustainable development challenges, by helping them discover positive impact solutions that are aligned with their aspirations. The outcome is derived from a simple 3-steps process that includes simple and quick questionnaire where the client can take a position on the various challenges of sustainable development and express their investments expectations and motivations, discover their own imp’actor profile, and access information about their own profile.

It is an innovative tool that structurally changes the way RMs and clients interact. It was born in France and is being rolled out across the world. myImpact is already available in Luxembourg, France and the USA, and being deployed across new geographies, for example in Switzerland, as we speak.

myImpact is helping us respond to client expectations about how to deploy their wealth to achieve more impact. But it is also enabling a deeper transformation of wealth management through the progressive implementation of sustainable rankings for mainstream financial products, not only sustainable ones. And we are accelerating: 100% of our recommended mutual fund universe will have a sustainability rating by 2020. We are integrating positive impact even in Private Equity (PE): the first PE Global Impact Fund has successfully been distributed in 2019 with multiple subscriptions around the world.

What are the next steps in the evolution of  Sustainable Investing?

In my opinion, the question needs to be addressed on three different levels.

First, the market is clearly evolving in the right direction, with an ever increasing demand from clients about impact and sustainable investments. I believe that the trend will only accelerate from now on and that in a few years all investments will be judged according to stringent sustainability criteria.

Secondly, our clients are showing a real interest in the sustainable investment solutions and products we offer. They are very interested in the multiple sessions we have organized to help them better understand the market and how to integrate sustainability thinking in their daily life and business. Our initiatives alongside Cambridge and Stanford Universities are very successful and demonstrate their commitment and their interest.

Thirdly, in that context, at BNP Paribas Wealth Management, we continue to work to bring anincreasing universe of positive impact solutions to our clients.

The world of business and investments is becoming ever more focused on sustainability and impact, and BNP Paribas Wealth Management is taking its part in helping drive the sustainability transformation. We are laser-focused on working closely with our clients to help them, on one hand, learn about the changes required in the economy, while on the other hand, advising them on how they can play a driving role in this transformation, and benefit from the opportunities that are being created in the switch to a more responsible society.