Women in Finance Montreal, a leader in sustainable finance

When it comes to stable funding, Montreal is the leader. The metropolis ranks first in Canada in this sector, and will also house the North American office of the International Council on Sustainability Standards (ISSB). Overview of the area where women shine.

Published at 8:00

Emily Laperier

Emily Laperier
special cooperation

What characterizes sustainable financing?

Unlike its traditional counterpart, sustainable financing goes beyond the financial aspect. “It takes into account the impact on the environment, social and managerial dimensions. It can also take into account territorial elements, ”said Genevieve Moren, president and CEO of the Foundation. “She is interested in the more global effect that money has on the economy, not just productivity,” she said. For Anne-Marie Hubert, Quebec’s managing partner at EY, this is a profound financial transformation. “This is a fundamental movement that began in 2002, when the UN called 25 institutional investors, including the Caisse depot et placement du Québec, to ask them to invest their money in a way that contributes to the sustainable development of the United Nations. Since then, the group has not stopped growing. »


PHOTO BY ROBERT SKINNER, LA PRESSE ARCHIVE

Genevieve Moren, President and CEO of Fondaction

What are the different approaches?

There are different approaches to ensuring the creation of responsible funds, known as ESGs. “We can use filters to avoid investing in companies that are inefficient in this regard,” says Genevieve Moren. We can also be involved in engaging shareholders and holding companies accountable. “Then we use the fact that we own shares to intervene,” explains the CEO of Fondaction. It was often used to expose the carbon footprint or to seat women on boards of directors. Another approach is to select companies with the best environmental and social performance in the sector. For example, “instead of banning oil companies, we choose the ones that produce the most renewable energy,” says Genevieve Moren.


PHOTO BY IVANOH DEMERS, LA PRESSE ARCHIVE

Ann-Marie Hubert, EY Managing Partner in Quebec

What is its importance?

In recent years, we have seen a rapid growth of responsible funds. “Sustainable funding is gaining momentum,” says Anne-Marie Hubert. According to Bloomberg, $ 20 trillion in ESG bonds were issued in 2021. ESG funds also raised about $ 600 billion last year, and their assets grew by 53% to 2,700 billion US dollars.

Why does Montreal stand out?

For Anne-Marie Hubert, stable funding is part of the DNA of Montreal. “The Caisse de dépôt has been involved in the movement since the first hour. Desjardins has social values ​​and from the very beginning puts money at the service of the community. Same for Fondaction. We have very special role models in Montreal that have an impact and ensure that we develop skills like few other places in the world. Having a large scientific community also helps to make the metropolis stand out. “This is good news for Montreal,” said Natalie Saint-Pierre, president of SDG Capital. This has been going on for years, and there are efforts in this direction. »


PHOTO FROM UQAM SITE

Natalie Saint-Pierre, President of SDG Capital

What explains why there are so many women?

According to Natalie Saint-Pierre, stable funding is a “pioneer zone” for women. “Women have seen the effects of climate change up close, especially in Africa. They are also traditionally more inclined to care for others, to think about the community. Anne-Marie Hubert, for her part, sees an unprecedented opportunity to combine accounting and social values. If women first invested in it, now this sector shows greater parity. “The anxiety caused by women has allowed many men to take an interest in them,” says Genevieve Moren. Now it is quite well distributed. »