COP26 Warning: The Danger of Mis-selling ESG Products

In the lead-up to the COP26, Charles Sincock heeds a warning for ESG products being mis-sold.




The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) commences this Sunday (31st October). This will be the 26th UN Climate Change Conference and this year it will be hosted in Glasgow.

These conferences have become increasingly critical as the ongoing climate crisis worsens. Representatives meet from all over the world to discuss what action can be taken to combat climate change including limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, halving global emissions within the next decade and reaching ‘net-zero’ by 2050.

Aptly, the event begins on Halloween, as it seems there are many scary topics on the table. In particular, one of this year’s greatest concerns is the danger of ESG product ‘gold rush’.


The Dangers of Mis-selling ESG Products


Charles Sincock, ESG Delivery Lead at global technology and management consultancy Capco, warns of the impending dangers for firms mis-selling ESG products amid escalating investor appetite for more sustainable, climate-friendly opportunities:


“On the eve of COP26, financial institutions should place renewed focus on the dangers of mis-selling new green products as the clamour for environmental, social and governance (ESG) compliant investments promises to generate a ‘green gold rush’ in the market.


“Asset managers face immense pressure from investors and activists to divest from fossil fuel industries. More than half the money, a total of €1.4 trillion, which flowed into European funds in 2020 went into sustainable products, a trend that has intensified in 2021. Amid a commodity price boom – fuelled by demand from post-pandemic recovery programmes for energy and resources – asset managers will be conflicted as they seek to balance green credentials with a mean performance.


“The dangers of mis-selling green products and misrepresenting the positive ESG or climate credentials of a product may deliver short-term gains, but could also lead to significant value destruction in the longer run. To navigate this potential minefield, caution and process must become the focus at all levels of the firm when delivering robust and defendable frameworks to manage ESG products and services. Without this approach, it will be all too easy for firms to over-egg their ‘green pudding’.


“If the lessons of previous mis-selling mishaps are learned, then this could be the defining opportunity for the next generation of financial services’ customers, firms, employees and executives. If not, it has the potential to damage not only individual firms’ balance sheets and reputations, but also broader efforts to make sustainable finance a reality – and ultimately the very future of our planet.”