IIF Authors

Status: Will be live at 02/10/2021 08:00

The Future of the Chief Sustainability Officer: Sense-Maker In Chief

This report summarises the findings of a global survey conducted by the Institute of International Finance (IIF) and Deloitte.

Our goal was twofold. The first was to understand how financial services firms are mobilizing to address the environmental, social and governance (ESG) imperative. The second was to learn how these firms
see the role of the chief sustainability officer (CSO) in fulfilling their aspirations.

Specifically, we wanted to explore:

  • Why some firms have CSOs and others do not;
  • What mandate firms typically give to their CSO;
  • Which skills sets and leadership attributes are necessary to deliver that mandate;
  • How CSOs contribute to governance; and
  • How the role is likely to evolve.

More than 80 sustainability professionals working in over 70 different organisations contributed their perspectives. They include CSOs, chief executive officers (CEOs), and chief risk officers (CROs), along with heads of sustainability, ESG and strategy. Respondents represented asset managers, insurers and banks in Europe, North America, Asia and Emerging Markets.

We also drew on the shared experience of Deloitte professionals who are working with clients on sustainability projects around the world. Much like today’s generation of CSOs, their specialties span ESG, business strategy, financial transformation, risk management, board governance, integrated disclosures, compliance, talent and compensation. In total, the sustainability professionals we spoke to work in organisations with a combined market capitalisation of $1.4 trillion. Together, these companies finance nearly $16 trillion of economic activities through their loan portfolios, with combined assets under management of over $19.7 trillion.