ESG Communications Strategy Boosts Companies ESG Rating & Investor Engagement

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The Situation

Our client is a leader in financial services with a number business subsidiaries and multi-country operations.  Its main subsidiaries had been publishing Sustainability Reports for several years. However, the NYSE listed holding company had not published a Sustainability Report, nor did the organization have an overarching ESG strategy or policies in place.  

With a new CEO and proactive portfolio approach to managing the business units, the Company initiated work with one of the Big Four to lay the framework for an ESG governance structure and develop a five-year ESG strategy.  The Company engaged InspIR to partner on a planned Investor Day to introduce its new business strategy and to conduct a Perception Study with the financial community aimed at uncovering opportunities to enhance shareholder value.  

Key findings from the Perception Study included a need to upgrade and articulate the current ESG approach, as well as to accelerate digital transformation initiated by the Company several years earlier. 

Our Approach

InspIR embarked on an ongoing advisory journey with the company, collaborating to devise a comprehensive strategy aimed at bolstering communication and visibility for their new ESG initiative. The program has been running for three years.  As a first step, we leveraged the 2020 Virtual Investor Day, with over 300 participants, to set the stage for the upcoming launch of the Company’s corporate ESG strategy.  

In the Spring of 2021, we published the holding company’s inaugural Sustainability Report, unveiling the Group’s redefined purpose, vision and ESG governance strategy.  InspIR converted a complex and detailed program presented in an over 200-page presentation into an overarching strategic message, linked to a new purpose and vision, that resonated with the financial community and other stakeholders. Thus, we helped the Company articulate its 5-year Sustainability Program in a stakeholder (particularly investor) friendly report that contributed to elevate both internal and external communications.

InspIR’s role included developing the report content, crafting key strategic messages, processing extensive data gathered from the (at the time) five subsidiaries, unifying metrics, selecting relevant data, and tying it to the strategic messaging to present a compelling story of progress and potential. 

One year later, InspIR created the Company’s ESG Strategy Presentation 2020-2025, a presentation designed for investors that encapsulated the sustainability accomplishments of the program’s initial years. This document also featured the structural medium-term goals and initiatives, with the intention that it wouldn’t necessitate frequent updates for annual developments.  This presentation serves to provide a holistic vision of the strategy, for those interested in the longer-term view. 

In 2022 the Company held Investor Days in New York and London to advance understanding of the progress in digitalization and financial inclusion across business units.  InspIR developed the storyline, worked with individual management teams on messaging, presentation, scripts, and videos.  We oversaw design, conducted extensive participant targeting, and managed logistics for each event.

Beginning with the first Sustainability Report in 2020, InspIR also worked with the Company’s Investor Relations team to integrate business and sustainability progress and goals throughout all investor communications materials on a regular and consistent basis. 

In the Fall of 2022, the Company attended its first ESG roadshow in Europe which included the Company’s Chairman, CEO and VP overseeing Sustainability.  InspIR supported the development of the presentation and talking points.

Tangible Results

The Company’s third Sustainability Report will be published in two languages with updated materiality and in compliance with GRI and SASB standards and it will include the Company’s progress in contributing to UN Sustainable Development Goals. InspIR project managed the materiality update and the benchmarking and gap analysis, developed the storyline based on interviews with Company Senior Management and developed the appendices.  The Company is expected to publish its first TCFD report by the end of 2023. 

The following recognitions provide tangible evidence of how the Group has advanced on its sustainability journey, and how timely, strategic and elevated ESG communications can contribute to help investors understand it sustainability goals, commitments and achievements:  

  • The Company’s MSCI ESG rating improved from a BBB in 2019 to an AA by the end of 2021.
  • Sustainalytics reduced its risk rating to Medium in 2022 from High in 2020.
  • The Company was chosen by HSBC as one of three top picks among Emerging Markets Banks, “based on their financial investment case, supported by ESG-related credentials”.
  • Institutional Investor ranked the Company as the Best ESG Program in its country.  

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