EY - Brandon Sutcliffe

Brandon Sutcliffe is helping NYC firms put sustainability front and center

Many organizations in New York City have committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. A key component to this transition and creating a truly sustainable society is financial services, says Brandon Sutcliffe. Brandon works with banks and other financial firms on adopting “sustainable finance” — one of the business world’s most pressing needs and opportunities. 

What is sustainable finance?

We define it as any form of financial service that incentivizes the integration of long-term environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria into business decisions. The goal is to provide more viable, equitable and inclusive benefits to companies and communities. Embedding ESG into investing decisions is perhaps the highest-profile example of sustainable finance, but ESG concepts can be incorporated into all aspects of an organization. 

How are you helping banks and similar institutions practice sustainable finance?

Each day, more businesses are making significant financial commitments toward sustainability. I specifically help financial clients identify practical steps that can be taken to measure and monitor those commitments. We’re also helping them set up programs to embed the potential impacts of climate change more specifically into pretty much everything they do — from assessing risk to compliance to new product development and, ultimately, to what they want to disclose publicly.

Why is this urgent now?

We’re already seeing the effects of climate change on our communities today. If we don’t take action now, we might not have a place to live. The pandemic most adversely impacted our vulnerable communities, especially here in New York; the same is going to happen with the impacts of climate. Financial institutions can make real, systemic contributions by establishing sustainability goals that are authentic, achievable, and aligned with both stakeholder and shareholder needs. We also know that other sectors are going to have major financing needs, such as corporate and insurers, to not only manage the impact of physical risks but also address transition risks. 

What’s your vision for a more sustainable New York?

In the past year and a half, we’ve been increasingly focused on social and environmental equity — caring for our people and the planet. Today we have a unique opportunity to build back in a much more thoughtful, meaningful way and innovate on what we’ve done. Businesses are embracing this innovation, and there’s a strong movement for doing what’s right today so our next generation can flourish.

Brandon Sutcliffe is the EY Americas Financial Services Sustainable Finance Leader.

EY Sustainability in Financial services

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