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Interview: György Sass (HSBC Private Bank): ESG proactivity

About György Sass

György Sass started his career as a Relationship Manager in Bank Card Company, Brussels. He then worked in East-West United Bank and Dexia-BIL as a private banking Relationship Manager. He joined the Central & Eastern Europe team of HSBC Private Bank Luxembourg in 2009, and the Europe International team in 2012. György studied at the University of Brussels as a translator and interpreter, and was trained at the IFBL in 2002. He is Belgium native and speaks French, Russian, German, Dutch, English, Hungarian and Luxemburgish. In October 2020, György participated in HSBC Sustainability Leadership Programme and is now an HSBC ESG Ambassador in Luxembourg.

György Sass, Senior Relationship Manager, Europe International at HSBC Private Bank (Luxembourg) says although younger generations are very sensitive to Sustainability and Impact investments, the bank still needs to raise awareness, not just of the issues but also of the solutions, and in that spirit propose a range of investment solutions that meet ESG standards.

Are Private Banking clients interested in the ESG thematic?

During 2020 we noticed an increasing interest from our clients in the ESG thematic. The recurring requests we get are: can I invest part of my portfolio in ESG products? What is the strategy of HSBC in ESG and what are the commitments of your Bank? Moreover, there are clear signs showing, that younger clients are the ones that are the most aware about the topic. Would ESG related questions be a new generation story? We know today that Sustainability and Impact investments are key to attract Next Generation clients. Millennials for example believe social impact is fundamental to their investment decisions. However, the majority of our clientele often do not proactively ask about ESG, even though they believe it is highly important to help create a better planet and react positively when we initiate the conversation. As a major international Bank, we have a role to play to educate customers about financial materiality of ESG issues, this is one of our contributions to improve society. We then have to understand their expectations and recommend Sustainable investment solutions. We are only at the beginning of this amazing journey.

“At the heart HSBC’s “Plan for the Planet” is an ambition to reduce financed emissions from our portfolio of customers to net zero by 2050.”

How can HSBC Private Bank guide those clients in the ESG Investment world?

As part of HSBC Group, our Private Banking service and product offering can leverage on the incredible expertise HSBC Group has built in the ESG area. The way our teams can guide our clients is at two levels:

  • Increase awareness: the Bank has a clear educational role to play. Although the majority of private bank clients recognize the importance of creating a more sustainable future, only 40 % have at least 1 % of their portfolio in sustainable investments. We can share with our clients data and research about the impact and the causes of climate change, and the risks it represents for their asset allocation. There is a consensus now that climate change represents more than ever a risk for investors.

  • Propose solutions: offer our clients a range of investment solutions that meet ESG objectives and protect their capital and long-term returns. HSBC Private Bank will launch this year a Discretionary Mandate dedicated to ESG investments.

What are the objectives of HSBC for ESG?

In October 2020, HSBC announced its “Plan for the Planet” with a Net Zero Ambition by 2050 for our loan book. At the heart of this plan is an ambition to reduce financed emissions from our portfolio of customers to net zero by 2050, in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The Bank will intensify support to its portfolio of customers to switch to more sustainable ways of doing business. At a Private Banking level, the main objective is to increase the asset allocation of Sustainable investments in the portfolios of our clients. ESG investments will be part of our global offering and the discussion will be opened with our clients to increase awareness. Sustainability is now at the heart of all our business discussions.

The efforts of HSBC are recognized by the market and The Banker named us Investment Bank of the Year for Sustainability, saying HSBC had delivered “an impactful and holistic approach to ESG issues across many geographies, products and services for a range of clients”.


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