North America's best bank for sustainable finance 2020: Morgan Stanley

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Awards for Excellence 2020

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Regional awards

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It was a year of milestones for Morgan Stanley in sustainability, a journey that began in 2013 with the establishment of the Sustainable Investing Institute under Audrey Choi, the bank’s chief sustainability officer.

Sustainability now runs through the bank’s veins – this year it wins the award for North America’s best bank for sustainable finance.

In finance, Morgan Stanley served as the sole green structuring adviser and bookrunner for PepsiCo’s inaugural $1 billion green bond, which focused on integrating recycled and biodegradable plastics into packaging, investing in energy efficiency, renewable and sustainable farming practices, and improving water efficiency by replenishing watersheds and working with suppliers on water-efficient farming practices.

Audrey Choi Morgan Stanley 160 186

Audrey Choi,
Morgan Stanley

Plastics and recycling has become something of a theme for the bank. Last year Morgan Stanley announced the Morgan Stanley Plastic Waste Resolution, pledging to facilitate the prevention, reduction and removal of 50 million tonnes of plastic waste from rivers, oceans, landscapes and landfills by 2030.

That pledge is being fulfilled through engagement with more than 600 companies on their plastic waste and through investment products. The bank’s impact-focused portfolios launched a range of actively managed $10,000 minimum portfolios in June last year that give investors the opportunity to create a positive environmental and social impact with a return.

The portfolios employ investment managers that target several of the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs), in particular, SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 14 (life below water). In less than a year, assets under management across these portfolios have grown to more than $150 million.

Giving investors the ability to invest for their values within sustainability has been taken to a new level in the firm’s wealth management business. Launched in July 2019, Morgan Stanley Impact Quotient is an impact-reporting application that enables clients to prioritize their impact goals and have advice tailored to those goals.

The environment is not the bank’s only focus. For many years, Morgan Stanley has been financing affordable housing and bringing finance to community development finance institutions (CDFIs). Last year the bank structured a groundbreaking $100 million sustainability bond issue for the Low Income Investment Fund.

The bond is a CDFI sector first, aligning directly with eight SDGs. It also helped finance the Utah Equitable Transit Oriented Development Fund, which lowers the cost burden of transportation for those with low-incomes and improves public transit access.