Today Cognito launches its own specialist practice for communications focused on sustainability, sustainable finance and ESG investing.
For many firms and sectors we work with, sustainability has today become one of the single biggest communications challenges.
All companies have a part to play in addressing sustainability issues, such as climate risk, diversity, social and environmental impact. For some, these are reputational issues. For many this is about doing things ‘right’, seeing and acting upon an opportunity that serves the business and the greater good.
As we approach COP26, more finance and investment is needed to achieve the goals sought by the international community to achieve net-zero. Climate-finance from developed nations is falling short of the $100bn pledged annually by 2020. There are estimates we need between five and eight times more investment annually in clean energy and renewables beyond current allocations to meet a net-zero target.
There is huge potential for financial services companies to create and deliver specialised finance and investment products that can ultimately incentivise the corporate and investment sector to become more sustainable and more equitable – and funnel capital in the right direction.
Cognito’s Sustainability Practice
Over the past few years, we have worked with companies across a range of sustainability issues, which we believe places us at an interesting crossroads between sustainability and finance.
The services we offer range from developing quality and authentic sustainability branding and messaging; promoting specialist products and services that are linked to sustainability; creating awareness of sustainability thought leadership and expertise; optimizing digital footprints around sustainability and ESG keywords; specialist writing – including sustainability reports and byline articles; and communications advice on sustainable finance regulation and policy.
Specialist communications advice
This is a challenging space to communicate in – which is why we have launched our practice. Our work has taught us that communicating about these specialist products and services requires specialised knowledge and expertise.
For example, when you write on sustainability-linked loans and green bonds, it’s no longer good enough to talk about duration, tenure and syndication. Of equal importance is the green projects they finance, or the sustainability pathway methodology that ultimately dictates sustainability progress, and the resulting premiums and interest rates for the corporate issuer.
The majority of monthly investment fund flows are now into ESG strategies – taking sustainability from investment theme to investment norm. To tell a credible story around ESG investing, a sustainable narrative needs to permeate throughout all messaging, branding and identity.
It’s important to be ready to talk about this in an authentic and compelling way. Media are as equally likely to ask about a fund manager’s ESG screening framework and exclusion lists as they are about their investment approach. Journalists we speak to that are covering sustainable finance, investing and capital markets today often need to know as much about climate science, as they do about interest rates and basis points.
We at Cognito believe that sustainability is going to be an issue for years to come, and that financial services firms will play a central role in driving the transition to a greener and more equitable future.
Charlie Morrow is a director in London and the founder of Cognito’s sustainability practice