ESG continues to climb up the corporate agenda despite muted economic outlook
For the eighth consecutive year, our Corporate Debt team has surveyed and interviewed treasurers and other senior finance professionals over 80 large UK listed corporates (and equivalents) for our annual Corporate Debt and Treasury Report. This is the fourth year we have worked alongside the treasury trade body, the Association of Corporate Treasurers, in compiling our research.
Key conclusions from our 2022 analysis include:
- The positive outlook noted in our 2021 research has receded with a combination of post-pandemic supply chain and energy cost issues as well as inflationary pressures and other factors directly and indirectly posing challenges to a number of aspects of corporate treasury. Those challenges though are not expected to curtail the supply of debt but may impact on terms, pricing and the timing of raising debt.
- ESG and sustainability continues to be the topic of treasury conversations and its adoption and evolution will continue for some time, particularly as it percolates through all forms of corporate debt finance.
- Over 70% of respondents expect to include ESG or sustainability features in their next financing with the impediments to doing so weakening as ESG and sustainability in debt finance becomes better understood. Sustainability-linked loans and bonds amount to almost half of all Sustainable Finance of respondents. Notwithstanding the seemingly unstoppable trend towards implementing ESG and Sustainable Finance, a number of respondents queried whether it is justified given the time and incremental cost involved. The more fundamental trend is a company's attitude towards ESG and sustainability is increasingly likely to drive the binary decision by debt investors and lenders of whether to lend or not.
- Significant year on year increases in corporate expenditure are predicted both on investment (capital expenditure and working capital, the latter often driven through supply chain pressures) and distributions to shareholders.
- As expected, treasury appetite to use cryptocurrencies is extremely low with significant hurdles to be overcome if it is ever to become a typical feature of corporate treasury. This is a trend we will monitor over the longer term.
Head of Corporate Debt Finance Kristen Roberts said:
"ESG and sustainability continues to be the topic of treasury conversations. The general trend towards ever greater proportions of debt containing ESG or sustainability-linked features continues as the barriers to engaging in ESG and sustainability-linked financing subside”
Please find the full press release here.
We hope you find these results informative and would like to thank those who participated in our research. In particular, we are grateful to those who took part in our follow-up interviews to discuss the survey results.
Please contact any of the team below if you have any comments on the report or would like to discuss any of the issues raised. We would also be delighted to hear from you if you are happy to take part in our research next year as we aim to make this report as useful to the treasury community as possible.
Some of the themes explored in this report are necessarily only addressed in headline terms. During 2022 we will issue short form, practical insights on some of these issues and share views from other treasury professionals. We published a podcast in July 2022 in which we focus on the findings in this year's report relating to sustainable finance in terms of trends, and where the ESG finance market might go next. If you would like to receive other insight pieces relating to our report please email [email protected].