Sustainability continued to gain significance globally in 2019, both as a more widely covered topic and as a field of concrete action. We sat down with Yvonne Suter, our new Head of Corporate Sustainability and Responsible Investment, to discuss Julius Baer's Sustainability Report 2019 (to be downloaded at the end of the article).
To respond to new global megatrends and an increasing interest in sustainable and impact investing, we have embarked on a journey to further strengthen our sustainability mission and strategy. To propel this process, Julius Baer formed a dedicated global Corporate Sustainability & Responsible Investment (CS&RI) team to steer and align the Group’s activities and welcomed Yvonne Suter as its new Head. The CS&RI team functionally reports to the Chief of Staff and strategically reports to the Sustainability Board, a committee of the Bank’s Executive Board chaired by the CEO.
Yvonne Suter, what is your main task at Julius Baer?
Yvonne Suter: “Corporate sustainability, sustainable investments and impact investing are strategic priorities for Julius Baer. Our ambition is to contribute to the objectives of the global sustainability agreements and to play a leading role in selected areas. Strategic thinking, anticipation of trends, far-sighted planning and effective implementation will be key. In the months to come, we will focus on making our strategy implementable and our ambitions tangible.”
What is the importance of sustainability for Julius Baer?
“Sustainability is no longer a niche topic. Its current paradigm shift will have a particularly strong impact on the financial industry. A bank cannot pursue holistic risk management without systematically integrating sustainability as well as environmental, social, and governance criteria. The challenge is to understand sustainability in its entirety and to integrate it consistently across the company, with innovative solutions and services.”
Our openness and collaboration with thought leaders, think tanks and start-ups enables us to react quickly to new trends and offer innovative solutions.
What is the most pressing challenge facing Julius Baer?
“The current dynamic in the market around corporate sustainability and, more specifically, sustainable and impact investing is unprecedented. The challenge is to keep up with the fast pace of these developments, to live up to our commitments, and to maintain momentum while remaining focused on what matters most.”
What are the strengths of Julius Baer and the resulting opportunities for 2020 and beyond?
“Thanks to Julius Baer’s proximity to our clients, we recognise trends and anticipate needs early. That presents us with an opportunity in terms of the quality of our solutions and services. We are a bank with great history and tradition, but we also attach great importance to entrepreneurship. Our openness and collaboration with thought leaders, think tanks and start-ups enables us to react quickly to new trends and to offer innovative solutions. What’s more, our excellent network of clients from around the world is an undeniable core strength. This gives us an opportunity to increase our impact by bringing clients together, offering platforms for peer-to-peer sharing, and breaking new ground with impactful investment solutions.”
What goals are you going to address first?
“First, we have to review our sustainability targets and adjust them where necessary, especially with regard to our climate targets. The second priority is to expand our sustainable and impact investment solutions and services. Part of that will be to ensure that we implement state-of-the-art trainings for client-facing employees.”
Where can we find more detailed information?
“If you would like to receive more detailed information on our core topics stakeholder management, sustainability strategy, business practice, client management, Julius Baer’s responsible investment approach, our employees, communities and the environment, please download the Sustainability Report below.”