SRI Awards: Most Influential Champion of the Market — Crédit Agricole CIB
The last year has seen green, social and sustainability-linked bonds go mainstream in almost every corner of the market, from sovereigns, to financial institutions and corporates.
With the benefit of hindsight, that might seem to have been inevitable but in reality, it has taken years of hard graft by many banks and bankers. Credit Agricole CIB, a leader of the sustainability agenda for over a decade, was this year recognised as GlobalCapital’s Most Influential Champion of the Market.
It wasn’t just Credit Agricole CIB that was recognised by market participants. Once again, Tanguy Claquin, head of sustainable banking, was voted Most Impressive Green/SRI Investment Banker by his peers, an award he has held since 2015.
Of course, that takes individual dedication and drive, but it is also a reflection of the importance placed on the market right from the start by the whole Credit Agricole group, from top management down, across banking, capital markets and asset management. It was first recognised in the overall most impressive bank for SRI capital markets in 2014 and held that position for six years.
Looking back over a decade, the starting point was the mandate that bank executives were given by the cooperative shareholders of the group with its roots in the agricultural sector. “Farmers directly feel the environmental and social challenges that we are facing which meant that in the early days we had extremely strong support from every layer of management,” says Claquin.
Claquin set up the sustainable banking team in 2009, which gave Credit Agricole CIB a head start in SRI markets. The timing was right, just when issuers started to become interested in SRI in the post-great financial crisis environment, and it allowed it made the bank relevant in front of clients. Top-level support meant it also had the resources that other banks lacked to devote to projects for the benefit of market governance and infrastructure.
Claquin, for instance, was the only representative from a European house involved in the creation of the Green Bond Principles, which continue to provide a template for what is now almost a countless number of issuers.
“The reason why we are influential and why we are visible in this market is because we never shied away from spending time on the Green Bond Principles to draft and promote them,” he says. “It was important for the market and it put us at the core of the market.
“Similarly, during the last few years when Europe started to work on the Green Bond Standard, we had the mandate from our top management to spend time on it. It’s perhaps not obvious for a bank to spend so much time on market governance but it gives us credibility in the market.”
The bank also worked on the Sustainability Linked Bond Principles, published in June 2020, that followed its work on the inaugural issue for Italian power company Enel in 2019. Alongside market governance, though, has been a consistent willingness to promote SRI capital markets to issuers. A notable result of this approach came in the last year as Germany joined the ranks of green bond issuers, advised by Credit Agricole
“We have spent days, weeks, months and even years with the key public sectors players to convince them that ESG is not only a marketing gimmick but a really important tool,” says Claquin.
That the ESG roots run deep throughout the group is also clear.
“As the Credit Agricole group we’ve been committed to this process throughout the value chain, not just market governance,” he says.
“It’s also been important that the group itself has issued green, sustainability and social formats as well as advising our clients on how to access these markets themselves. And the group is also an investor in these instruments: Amundi, for instance, is not just one of the largest asset managers but one of the most ESG-focused asset managers globally.”
It also means that the bank looks at the impact of its own business from an SRI perspective. Claquin points out that in bond rankings based on revenues from deals that are green or brown, Credit Agricole CIB is not only first in green revenues, but is also the only bank to have more green revenues than brown.
“There’s pressure on all banks on this but being at the top is putting even more pressure on us because we want to stay there and be consistent,” he says. “When you’re claiming credit for doing green it’s something that you cannot achieve without also looking what you’re doing for the whole business.”