Singapore's private banking industry sets green standards, upskills workforce

The new framework was developed by an industry taskforce and covers a wide range of financial activity from wealth planning to investments and financing. PHOTO: BT FILE

SINGAPORE - A set of guidelines released on Friday outlines how private banks can integrate sustainability practices into their business models.

The new framework was developed by an industry task force and covers a wide range of financial activity, from wealth planning to investments and financing.

Bank of Singapore chief executive Bahren Shaari said it is timely to set a common language and framework so clients can better understand the key considerations to environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing.

Mr Bahren, whose bank was part of the task force, said investors increasingly expect more transparency, clarity and advice on how they can approach sustainable investments, which tend to be guided by principles such as excluding sectors and firms that do not fit ESG criteria.

It also incorporates the notion of companies doing good while also making money.

The Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS), which launched the new guidelines, said each bank is at a different stage regarding sustainability so they should apply the guidelines progressively, starting with areas that they are well established in and then enhancing processes in other areas.

Meanwhile, the Private Banking Industry Group (PBIG) Sustainability Taskforce has developed a training benchmark to upskill private banking relationship managers in the area of sustainability.

Training programmes will be prioritised around four technical competencies, including sustainable investment management, climate change management and the ability to understand sustainability developments in non-financial industries and their impact on the financial sector.

Mr Benjamin Cavalli, head of wealth management for Asia-Pacific at Credit Suisse and the task force's lead, said private banking professionals need to be well equipped so they can better support their clients around sustainable investing.

Ms Gillian Tan, assistant managing director for development and international at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said there is growing demand for sustainable investments among high-net-worth individuals and family offices.

She added that the training benchmark will enhance the ability of private bankers to advise their clients in these areas.

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