The first Expert Speaker Series of 2021 kicked off earlier this month with a conversation with Adam Hall, head of sustainability from the Internet Fusion Group. We were delighted to see such a wide and engaged audience join us for a discussion around a topic which means a lot to us at White Marble.
Adam brought with him a perspective on evolving a business towards a more sustainable model from the retail space - one which is significantly ahead of the asset management industry in this capacity. Despite the differences between the two sectors, there were some clear learnings that we can draw from Adam's experiences.
- Value-driven marketing
This is both a reactive and forward-looking point: we all know that at its heart the investment management industry is a service industry, and we all understand that our clients' interests and values should be the driving force behind the products that we provide. A portion of those interests and values are already firmly oriented towards sustainability and ESG - last year flows into ESG funds accounted for more than half of flows into equity funds (Calastone). Putting the spotlight on the ESG capabilities of the products we are promoting is simply reacting to what our audiences want to hear about.
Naturally, not all client types want sustainability and ESG considerations to drive their investing, but there is indisputable evidence which shows this trend heading ever further in that direction. According to PwC, sustainable assets could be 57% of the total assets under management in Europe by 2025 (Fidelity). Investing in the credibility and articulation of your products' ESG capabilities is therefore an essential element of future-proofing your brand.
- Spheres of influence, the value of engaging with your audience
The degree of influence that each of us has at both a professional and personal level is not to be underestimated. Making small changes (and encouraging others to do the same) can add up to create a disproportionately large positive impact.
The Internet Fusion Group also found this to be a highly effective marketing tool at a corporate level. Instead of highlighting each change the company was making, their marketing encouraged their audience to be more sustainable. By encouraging their audience to be more sustainable, they were able to demonstrate that they were taking steps internally to do the same in a far more effective manner than directly publishing every small change that they implemented.
- Sustainability at its crux is a reduction
One of Adam's key takeaways is that sustainability at its heart is about the reduction of waste and the streamlining of business processes - factors that will have long-term positive impacts for businesses. While there may be some short-term costs when updating processes, working practices and communicating them, the Internet Fusion Group is a case study of how those costs are more than recouped as the investment in sustainable processes enhances supply chains.
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