By Duncan Higgins, Founder and CEO, Sustainable Trading
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
After quoting Martin Luther King in the last “Path to Sustainable Trading” blog, I realised how accurate this statement is with reference to driving industry changes. By their very nature, financial and capital markets are populated by multiple entities – buy and sell side, banks and brokers, exchanges and trading platforms, as well as a myriad of supporting players like technology and service providers, consultants, and accountants. It is also a highly competitive business environment where service differentiation can be a critical contributor to competitive edge. As such, there is always an element of challenge to bring disparate parties together in pursuit of common goals.
Initial Best Practices for Trading
We are proud of the excellent progress we have made in 2022 within our E, S and G workstreams and associated Steering and Working Groups. In a significant milestone for Sustainable Trading, we were delighted to distribute an initial set of Sustainable Trading Best Practices to our members in December. Developed within Working Groups and approved by our Steering Groups, these comprise 34 best practices with 86 sub-components. This is exciting progress in a short time, with more to follow in 2023.
The Working Groups have developed these Best Practices across six areas of focus with all practices tailored for the trading industry:
- Technology Infrastructure
- Environmental Business Practices
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
- Employee Wellbeing
- Community Engagement
- Governance Desk Practices
In November, we were delighted to welcome contributors to our Steering and Working Groups to an ‘all hands’ member meeting, hosted in person by Fidelity International in London and online. We had a fantastic turnout and look forward to repeating the exercise again in 2023.
Members and Membership
Against a challenging economic backdrop, we are especially proud to have garnered the support and commitment of 50 prestigious financial firms in our first year. From my very first conversations with market participants in early 2021, to our formal launch in February 2022 with 30 founding members up to the most recent addition of BNP Paribas Asset Management and Belgian investment house Degroof Petercam, I have been overwhelmed by the engagement and enthusiasm of market participants across the length and breadth of the financial markets trading industry. It is particularly exciting to witness their willingness to contribute their own experiences and expertise to the creation of best practices that will, over time, benefit the trading industry as a whole.
Individually, these firms are already driving proactive E, S and G initiatives within their own organisations; collectively, they represent a significant proportion of the global financial trading industry, holding considerable sway in terms of defining and promoting industry best practices that will, ultimately, protect and enhance the physical and social environments in which they operate.
Membership remains a key strand of our activity. Not only does the enterprise benefit from garnering the knowledge and support of as many market participants as possible, but it also allows us to invest in the infrastructure and resources required to turn consensus-driven concepts into solid, achievable and measurable industry best practices. Further, the implementation of the best practices we develop will have a greater positive impact as they’re adopted by a greater number of firms.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank every one of our members and member firms for their commitment and contribution to Sustainable Trading. While it is still early days we are very excited for what is to come.
In September, we appointed Allie Marchand and Viki Leibow as Member Engagement Consultants to support the delivery workstreams and existing and prospective members. This coincided with the establishment of Sustainable Trading HQ – our new offices in the City of London. Allie and Viki have hit the ground running, networking at industry events, the opportunity to meet members directly and engage with the broader trading community, and helping to drive our Steering and Working Group activities and member outreach.
As well as building out an operational infrastructure for Sustainable Trading, meeting with prospective members and onboarding new member organisations, 2022 was also packed full of industry events, speaking engagements and media interviews. Maintaining member and industry momentum means being visible with target audiences and consistent delivery of the Sustainable Trading mission and message.
From the first London-based events early in the year, speaking engagements took me across Europe, taking in Paris, Amsterdam, and Stockholm to address events including TradeTech Paris, ITM, FIX Nordic Trading Briefing, TradingTech Summit, The Hive Network Equities and Fixed Income Meetings, and the Credit Suisse European Equities Trading Forum. After the summer, we participated at International Trader Forum, Institutional Investor’s Asia Equity Trading Summit, the Quorum 15 Annual Event, the Trading Evolved Summit, and the Leaders in Trading Awards (as a guest of The Trade).
Thank you to all the event organisers who put Sustainable Trading and our message of positive change on E, S and G in front of your audiences. We really appreciate you including this topic within your packed agendas! We are currently nailing down our event participation for 2023 so if you are organising an event that you would like us to contribute to, please do let us know.
To sum up, it has been a remarkably busy first year for Sustainable Trading and we’re making great progress. From the origins of a first exploratory discussion while walking my dog on New Year’s Eve in 2020, we have gone on to engage the support of 50 leading financial firms and built solid foundations from which to drive forward positive change.
Of course, there are always many unknowns. Will change happen soon enough to make a real difference? Will today’s goals remain relevant in the next years? We may not have definitive answers but to quote Martin Luther King again, we have to keep moving forward.
In the meantime, all of us at Sustainable Trading wish you, your families and your colleagues a happy, successful and sustainable 2023.