North America's best bank for CSR 2017: Morgan Stanley

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Awards for Excellence 2017

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© 2017 Euromoney

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When it comes to corporate and social responsibility, few banks are prepared to be consistently the first to advocate for the environment and for human rights the way Morgan Stanley does. 

In April, the bank was the first financial institution to publish an open letter to president Trump urging him to stay in the Paris climate agreement, for example, and it is one of the few US banks not to have directly financed the Dakota Access Pipeline project. Once again Morgan Stanley wins Euromoney’s award for best bank for CSR in North America. 

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Audrey Choi,
Morgan Stanley

Employees at all levels are encouraged to come up with financial solutions to global problems. Over the last year, 44,000 employees at the bank received environmental, social and governance (ESG) training, regardless of whether they worked in banking, legal or accounting.

“It benefits us and our clients if we uncover risks and if we can help solve some of the global challenges; we all can play a part,” says Audrey Choi, CEO of Morgan Stanley’s Institute for Sustainable Investing. Employees also volunteer to advise non-profit organizations on their business strategies. 

On the business side, the bank developed toolkits last year around themes such as gender diversity and climate change for advisers to assist wealth management clients in expressing their values. Clients clearly care. Morgan Stanley’s impact investment platform grew $5 billion last year to $6.3 billion in assets under management. The bank also launched two sustainable investing model portfolios with reduced account minimums of $10,000 on the platform, allowing a greater number of people to take part.

In investment management, ESG analysts now work alongside sector analysts, and the bank is unafraid to use its position to effect change. In 2016, the corporate governance team engaged 90 companies on a mix of environmental, social and governance issues. 

When it comes to financing, Morgan Stanley is also one of the leading banks in the green bond sector. And the bank takes part in multiple community-giving programmes throughout the region.