Regulate for ESG progress, says Aviva’s Bowdrey

Aviva's TCFD workstream lead was speaking at a responsible investment summit in London

A senior figure within one of the UK’s largest insurers has called on the financial regulator to force investors to run sustainable investment portfolios.

Russ Bowdrey, senior asset-liability management manager and Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures physical risk workstream lead at Aviva, said the Financial Conduct Authority should take its lead from a neighbour across the Channel, which had implemented a range of measures to promote sustainable investing.

“Look at France. They have got fully behind trying to embed this into how a company works,” said Bowdrey. “They incentives someone like Aviva to make greener investments because its less expensive.”

In 2015, the French government launched an initiative to push investors to consider their environmental responsibilities, becoming the first country to introduce mandatory reporting on this issue.

The reporting obligations fall under Article 173 of France’s law on “energy transition for green growth” and have been cited as leading legislation by industry players.

Elsewhere, the European Commission has set out its sustainable investment initiative, which it intends to show investors which of their providers are leading – or lagging – in the field.

Bowdrey, speaking at a responsible investment summit sponsored by Columbia Threadneedle Investments and hosted at the News UK building, said regulators may be reluctant to act as there was little evidence to support a financial rationale for the move, but he urged them to act.

“Regulators need to be braver,” he said.