This article was originally posted on moneycab.com.
If we take the right steps now, Switzerland could become the Sustainable Finance Valley of the future. Because Switzerland has everything necessary: know-how in finance, sustainability and technology. The first important foundation was laid at the end of June by the highest authority.
In June 2020, the Swiss Federal Council adopted guidelines on sustainability in the financial sector. The goal is to improve the competitiveness of the Swiss financial centre and make an effective contribution to sustainability in the financial sector.
The Federal Council proposes several rules. Greenwashing shall no longer be an option. Sustainability risks are to be taken into account better and more consistently, all financial experts will need to be well trained in sustainability, and digital models should play a key role.
This way, the Swiss Federal Council is optimising the regulatory framework to increase the quality and thus the competitiveness of the financial centre. The report states that “Sustainable Finance” is a great opportunity for the Swiss financial centre – and we couldn’t agree more. Not least because various trends play into our hands.
Finance needs digitalisation and sustainability
More and more clients trust online providers and process their financial transactions online. Neo-banks like N26, Revolut, Transferwise and Neon are becoming the bank of choice for more people every day. Clients show much more initiative than before and want to join the conversation and decision-making. They no longer trust blindly, are more informed and want to know what is happening with their money. These ever-increasing needs are a huge opportunity. And Switzerland has all the necessary means to respond.
Finances need sustainability and Switzerland has proven that it creates excellent conditions for companies that make our future better. ClimeWorks, Impact Hub Switzerland, myclimate, South Pole, RepRisk, Carbon Delta and Dow Jones Sustainability Index are just a few of the players based or originated in Zurich that showcase how we can make the (financial) world a better and more sustainable place.
Sustainability needs technology
But to make a difference, we also need to bring technology to the table. Without big data approaches, sustainability impacts cannot be assessed. And here, too, we are optimally prepared. With ETH Zurich, Doodle, Disney Research, Google and Facebook, Switzerland offers a technology ecosystem in which a vast amount of relevant knowledge can be found.
Exciting start-ups that are driving sustainable finance have already emerged from this promising combination. In Zurich, Carbon Delta provides assessments for the potential impact of climate change on company valuations. Yova enables their clients to invest in projects and topics that are precisely tailored to their value system, no matter the size of the investment budget.
An ideal ecosystem of finance, technology and sustainability
The combination of financial expertise, sustainability and technology that prevails in Switzerland is one-of-a-kind. If the right steps are taken now – as it was the case decades ago in the Silicon Valley – the Sustainable Finance Valley of the future can be created, that enables Switzerland to maintain its leading role in the financial world. But there is still a lot to be done.
If we want to achieve this goal, even more stringent regulations will be necessary. Regulations that take account of our clients’ desires for greater sustainability. Collaborations between established financial service providers and interesting start-ups must become the norm. And if we can learn anything from Silicon Valley, it is that thriving start-up ecosystems need public support – with innovation fairs, media reports, awards on the one hand and hands-on help in getting access to market opportunities, talents and cooperations on the other. Because where an attractive environment is created, there is a strong incentive to enter the playground and make a meaningful difference.
If we put all our efforts together today, the Swiss financial market can look forward to another heyday in the future. The time is now.