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Hong Kong SFC Supports Development of Voluntary Code of Conduct VCoC by ESG Ratings & Data Providers to Mitigate Risk of Greenwashing in Investment Products, Industry Group Led by Hong Kong ESG Ratings & Data Products Providers VCoC Working Group with International Capital Market Association as Secretariat 

1st November 2023 | Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Securities & Futures Commission (SFC) has issued a statement supporting the development of a Voluntary Code of Conduct (VCoC) by ESG ratings & data providers (Environmental, Social & Governance) to mitigate the risk of greenwashing in investment products, with the industry group led by Hong Kong ESG Ratings & Data Products Providers VCoC Working Group with International Capital Market Association (ICMA) as Secretariat.  Hong Kong SFC: “The initiative is the culmination of the SFC’s fact-finding exercise and industry outreach conducted since mid-2022 to understand matters related to the ESG ratings and data products providers, which are not regulated by the SFC. The exercise found that surveyed asset managers highlighted common concerns about data quality, transparency, and conflicts of interest management of the providers, and that the IOSCO recommendations should be encouraged for adoption by ESG ratings and data product providers. The key observations from the exercise and proposed way forward for these providers are summarised in a report published by the SFC today.  The proposed VCoC, which will be open for ESG ratings and data products providers to sign up voluntarily, is expected to provide a streamlined and consistent basis for asset managers to conduct due diligence or on-going assessment on ESG service providers.” 

“ Hong Kong SFC Supports Development of Voluntary Code of Conduct VCoC by ESG Ratings & Data Providers to Mitigate Risk of Greenwashing in Investment Products, Industry Group Led by Hong Kong ESG Ratings & Data Products Providers VCoC Working Group with International Capital Market Association as Secretariat  “

 



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Julia Leung Hong Kong SFC CEO: “The Voluntary Code of Conduct will help strengthen the transparency, quality and reliability of ESG information used by licensed corporations in their investment decisions.  This is an important initiative to mitigate the risk of greenwashing in investment products.”

Working Group Members

  • Bloomberg
  • BOCHK Asset Management Limited
  • CDP
  • CCX Green Finance International Co., Ltd.
  • Fidelity International
  • Governance Solutions Group
  • Hang Seng Indexes Company Limited
  • HSBC
  • Invesco
  • MioTech
  • MSCI
  • Segantii Capital Management
  • S&P Global
  • Morningstar Sustainalytics

Observers

  • Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) (also as the Sponsor)
  • Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA)
  • Insurance Authority (IA)
  • CLP Holdings Limited
  • Swire Properties Limited

Secretariat: ICMA

 

 

Hong Kong SFC Supports Development of Voluntary Code of Conduct VCoC by ESG Ratings & Data Providers to Mitigate Risk of Greenwashing in Investment Products

Hong Kong | Leading Financial Centre in Asia

31st October 2023 – The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) today announced that it supports and sponsors the development of a code of conduct for voluntary adoption by environmental, social and governance (ESG) ratings and data products providers providing products and services in Hong Kong. The Voluntary Code of Conduct (VCoC) will be developed via an industry-led working group, namely the Hong Kong ESG Ratings and Data Products Providers VCoC Working Group (VCWG).

The SFC also welcomes the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) (Note 1) to act as the Secretariat of the VCWG. The Secretariat will convene and lead the VCWG, which comprises representatives from local, Mainland and other international ESG ratings and data products providers as well as key users from the local financial industry.

The proposed VCoC will align with international best practices as recommended by the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) (Note 2) and relevant expectations introduced in other major jurisdictions. The SFC, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the Insurance Authority will sit as observers to the VCWG. Further details are available in the terms of reference and participation list of the VCWG published by the ICMA.

The initiative is the culmination of the SFC’s fact-finding exercise and industry outreach conducted since mid-2022 to understand matters related to the ESG ratings and data products providers, which are not regulated by the SFC. The exercise found that surveyed asset managers highlighted common concerns about data quality, transparency, and conflicts of interest management of the providers, and that the IOSCO recommendations should be encouraged for adoption by ESG ratings and data product providers. The key observations from the exercise and proposed way forward for these providers are summarised in a report published by the SFC today.

The proposed VCoC, which will be open for ESG ratings and data products providers to sign up voluntarily, is expected to provide a streamlined and consistent basis for asset managers to conduct due diligence or on-going assessment on ESG service providers.

 

Notes:

  1. A self-regulatory organisation and trade association in the capital markets, the ICMA has been involved in various green and sustainable finance initiatives such as the Green Bond Principles and acts as one of the Secretariats of the ESG Data and Ratings Working Group in the United Kingdom in developing a voluntary code of conduct for ESG ratings and data products providers.
  2. The recommendations are derived from the IOSCO final report titled Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Ratings and Data Products Providers dated November 2021. Subsequent to the report, IOSCO also published a document in November 2022 which calls on financial markets voluntary standard setting bodies and industry associations to promote the adoption and implementation of the good practices stemming from the IOSCO recommendations amongst their members.



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