In this report, we share observations regarding ESG reporting within the financial services sector and provide some guidance for financial services companies to consider for future reporting. Set forth below is an overview of proposals reviewed, followed by descriptions of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) standards.
In preparing this report, we reviewed the environmental, social and governance (ESG) shareholder proposals submitted to companies within the Financial Services sector during the last five proxy seasons, focusing on proposals related to sustainability reporting/target-setting. We then narrowed our focus to the 2019 proxy season. Accordingly, we reviewed the sustainability reports and other ESG disclosures that financial services companies published in 2019 – following receipt of a sustainability-related shareholder proposal – to identify the ESG focus areas included in these reports. We found that although the existence of ESG disclosure did not shield issuers from receiving sustainability-focused shareholder proposals, companies that referenced or committed to aligning annual sustainability reports with investor-favored third-party reporting frameworks such as the TCFD were more likely to have sustainability reporting/target-setting proposals withdrawn.