The Asset Management Association Switzerland (AMAS) is working towards setting internationally accepted standards to build a hub for sustainable finance in asset and portfolio management, committing to climate goals set by the Swiss government and the Paris Agreement.
The hub should provide a framework for sustainable financial products and services bound to international quality standards without misleading investors.
Adrian Schatzmann, chief executive officer of AMAS, told IPE that quality standards and “Swiss made” sustainable asset management products “mean first of all consistently avoiding greenwashing, and compliance with binding best practices not only in the investment processes, in investment controlling and risk management, but also in reporting, and in achieving positive changes and financial returns”.
The hub is also intended as a network in the field of sustainability, linking up universities, organizations (NGOs) and political authorities.
An example of these kinds of partnerships is the recently signed technical cooperation between Robeco, the University of Zurich (UZH) and the ETH Zurich on sustainable investing, to train specialists and develop know-how on sustainable finance, and thus establishing and strengthening ”the international reputation of a Swiss hub for sustainable finance”, Schatzmann explained.
According to a report by the association Swiss Sustainable Finance, sustainable investments in Switzerland are growing, with banks’ and asset managers’ funds and mandates and investments amounting to over CHF1.5trn (€1.4trn) at the end of 2020.
AMAS wants to ensure the integrity and transparency of investment products marketed as sustainable, against greenwashing, to send also a signal to politicians and the public, it said in a position paper published last week.
“AMAS is involved in the development of the Swiss Climate Score for financial products,” promoted by the State Secretariat for International Finance (SIF), the CEO said, adding that the association is also in the process of developing uniform definitions and terminology for sustainable asset management aimed at Swiss asset managers, and it is in talks with other financial associations.
It is currently developing a self-regulatory framework for sustainable asset management, which is binding for the members of the association and should help establish best practices in the country’s financial industry, he added.
AMAS coordinates with other financial associations on industry-wide standards, closely working with the Swiss Bankers Association and Swiss Sustainable Finance in the area of sustainable finance.
A close exchange is taking place on the topics with the Swiss Insurance Association (SVV), KGAST (Conference of Directors of Investment Foundations) and ASIP, the Swiss pension fund association, Schatzmann said.
AMAS is also working with other associations on terminologies in the field of sustainable finance, with the purpose of standardisation.
“We have [also] followed the Federal Council’s recommendation to join so-called net-zero alliances and have been a supporting member of the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative (NZAMI) since December 2021, sending a clear signal as an industry association. AMAS also encourages its members to join, and over two dozen members are already part of NZAMI,” Schatzmann added.
The asset management association is also working with counterparts to draw up a study that records the progress towards net-zero progress of the Swiss financial center.
According to the position paper, the association also supports a global CO2 tax for emission reduction, and international standards and terminology for corporate climate data, while expressing doubt on the “detailed, government-controlled process for identifying and classifying economic activities in line with the (EU) taxonomy” as sustainable finance requires flexible regulation.