Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)

Guidelines indicate when asset managers may legitimately use ESG or sustainability-related terms in their fund names.

By Nicola Higgs, Laura Ferrell, and Charlotte Collins

On 14 May 2024, ESMA published its final Guidelines on funds’ names using ESG- or sustainability-related terms. The Guidelines aim to address the risk of funds’ names misleading investors by ensuring that their names can be supported in a material way by evidence of sustainability characteristics or objectives that are reflected fairly and consistently in the fund’s investment objectives and policy.

ESMA originally consulted on the Guidelines in November 2022 (see this blog post), but finalisation has been delayed while reviews of the AIFMD and UCITS Directive were completed. Notably, ESMA received substantive feedback on the consultation and made several amendments to the Guidelines accordingly.

With regulators keeping close watch, the results underscore the need for ongoing climate risk management investment and adaptation within the financial sector.

By Betty M. Huber, Arthur S. Long, Pia Naib, and Deric Behar

On May 9, 2024, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB) published summary results of a pilot climate scenario analysis (CSA) that explored how resilient six of the largest US bank holding companies (by total assets) are to climate-related financial risks. The analysis is intended to help the FRB “learn about large banking organizations’ climate risk-management practices and challenges and to enhance the ability of large banking organizations and supervisors to identify, estimate, monitor, and manage climate-related financial risks.”

The CSA was first announced in September 2022, and was intended as an exploratory exercise. It does not therefore result in any capital or supervisory consequences for the participating financial institutions.

The final guidance clarifies the scope and application date of the rule, and answers questions around good practice and accessing third-party data.

By Nicola Higgs and Jaime Martin

On 23 April 2024, the FCA published its final guidance (FG23/4) on its new anti-greenwashing rule, which comes into force on 31 May 2024. The anti-greenwashing rule will require all authorised firms to ensure that any reference they make to the sustainability characteristics of their financial products and services are

The Sexism in the City report highlights key issues affecting women in financial services and sets out a number of recommendations to address them.

By Nell Perks, Ella McGinn, and Charlotte Collins

On 8 March 2024, the House of Commons Treasury Committee published its report from the Sexism in the City inquiry, which sought to explore progress in four key areas affecting women in financial services since the Committee’s Women in Finance report was published in 2018. Overall

The European Parliament and the Council of the EU have made some significant changes to the European Commission’s proposal.

On 5 February 2024, the European Parliament and Council of the EU announced that they had reached a provisional political agreement on the text of the ESG Ratings Regulation (the Regulation). The agreed text was subsequently published on 14 February 2024. The Regulation was initially proposed by the Commission in June 2023, and seeks to introduce a new regulatory regime for ESG ratings providers “operating in the Union”. Refer to this Latham blog post for previous commentary on the proposal.

This annual publication explores some of the core focus areas for UK-regulated financial services firms in the year ahead. 2023 saw significant progress on the regulatory reform agenda, and many measures consulted on or reviewed as part of the Edinburgh Reforms will be finalised and/or implemented in the course of 2024.

We also saw the passing of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2023, many provisions of which have already come into effect and have made important changes to the

Benchmark administrators should review the quality of their ESG benchmark disclosures ahead of a review by EU regulators during 2024.

By Nicola HiggsBecky Critchley, Anne Mainwaring, Ella McGinn, and Charlotte Collins

On 13 December 2023, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the EU’s financial markets regulator and supervisor, announced its plans to launch a Common Supervisory Action (CSA). Along with National Competent Authorities (NCAs), ESMA plans to review the mandatory disclosures of benchmark administrators providing benchmarks that pursue ESG objectives under the EU Benchmarks Regulation (EU BMR).

The CSA is the first that ESMA will conduct since it assumed its direct supervisory role under the EU BMR. As part of the CSA, ESMA and the NCAs will share knowledge and experience to harmonise how they supervise ESG disclosure requirements for benchmark administrators.

The FCA’s long-awaited regime seeks to raise standards, increase consumer understanding, and reduce instances of greenwashing.

By Paul A. Davies, Laura N. Ferrell, Sarah E. Fortt, Nicola Higgs, Betty M. Huber, James McCrory, Nell Perks, Michael D. Green, Clare Scott, James Bee, Anne Mainwaring, Jaime Martin, Ella McGinn, and Charlotte Collins

On 28 November 2023, the FCA published its Policy Statement (PS23/16) containing final rules on its Sustainability Disclosure Requirements (SDR) and investment labelling regime. The FCA originally consulted on this regime in October 2022 (see this Latham blog post). Publication of the final rules was somewhat delayed in light of the volume of feedback received to the consultation.

The FCA has set out good and poor practices for asset managers to consider in relation to funds with ESG or sustainable characteristics.

By Nicola Higgs, Anne Mainwaring, and Charlotte Collins

On 16 November 2023, the FCA published the findings from its review of how asset managers have been embedding current regulatory expectations regarding the design, delivery, and disclosure of funds marketed as having ESG or sustainable characteristics.

With the FCA yet to finalise its Sustainability Disclosure Requirements (SDR) and investment labelling regime, it reviewed authorised fund managers’ (AFMs’) compliance with existing regulatory requirements, including the Guiding Principles set out in the Dear Chair letter issued in July 2021 (see this Latham blog post). The recently implemented Consumer Duty has added an extra dimension for AFMs to consider since the Guiding Principles were issued. The FCA highlights that the consumer understanding outcome is particularly relevant for AFMs providing ESG or sustainable funds; under this outcome, firms need to provide investors with the information they need at the right time and present it in a suitable way.

The FCA and the PRA have published their long-awaited consultations which aim to formalise how firms approach diversity and inclusion.

By Sarah E. Fortt, Sarah Gadd, Nicola Higgs, Andrea Monks, Rob Moulton, Nell Perks, Becky Critchley, Charlie Bowden, Ella McGinn, and Charlotte Collins

On 25 September 2023, the FCA and the PRA published separate but related consultation papers on D&I in financial services (FCA CP23/20 and PRA CP18/23). The regulators published a joint Discussion Paper in July 2021 on how they might accelerate the pace of meaningful change in relation to D&I and misconduct in financial services, by establishing minimum standards and providing firms with a better understanding of regulatory expectations (see Latham’s related blog post).

While some of the regulators’ proposed measures overlap, others are separate, and so dual-regulated firms will need to read both papers carefully. Equally, some of the measures would apply to all firms, but the more granular requirements would apply only to larger firms. Firms will therefore need to ensure they understand which requirements would be relevant to them.