The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) was established by The Prince of Wales in 2004 with the aim of inspiring action by finance leaders to drive a fundamental shift towards resilient business models and a sustainable economy.
The organisation has three core aims:
- Inspire finance leaders to adopt sustainable and resilient business models
- Transform financial decision making to enable an integrated approach, reflective of the opportunities and risks posed by environmental and social issues
- Scale up action across the global finance and accounting community
The project works with finance communities around the world and is actively expanding its networks globally. In Canada, ICMIF member The Co-operators (Canada) is involved in the A4S and Karen Higgins, Executive Vice-President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer, is one of the Canadian A4S Chapter members. In the USA, Warren Zaccaro, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer at ICMIF member Securian Financial Group is a member of the US Chapter.
ICMIF members have been at the forefront of corporate social responsibility reporting for over 20 years now, due to their longer-term thinking and greater alignment with the communities they serve. There is also a desire amongst mutual and cooperative insurers to protect both their immediate communities as well as the planet as a whole. Many ICMIF members have led the way in terms of CSR reporting, including the Co-op Insurance (UK) and Folksam (Sweden) who, at one point, led the world in producing CSR reports and other ICMIF members soon followed their lead. Therefore, A4S and its aims fit well with ICMIF itself as well as its membership.
The mutual insurance sector, which ICMIF represents, holds about a third of global insurance assets and premiums and so this size and gravitas, it is hoped, can bring significant influence to A4S projects thanks to an already engaged and enlightened part of the insurance sector which has values which are very much aligned with the aims of A4S.
The partnership between A4S and ICMIF is one founded on shared values and shared purpose and ICMIF hopes to encourage more member organisations to become involved in the work of the A4S as it expands on a global basis. At the ICMIF Board Meeting held in November 2019, ICMIF CEO Shaun Tarbuck affirmed the Federation’s commitment to continue to promote the great work already being done to convince CFOs that there is a way to incorporate sustainable financial practices in accounting reporting. The role for the finance community in achieving a sustainable world is critical and mutuals and cooperatives are ideal candidates to become actively involved in this work.
The current CFO Leadership Network
Canadian Chapter – members list can be found here. There are 12 members with The Co-operators being the only mutual. There are two insurers on the leadership chapter, The Co-operators and Manulife.
Current projects are:
- Engaging the Board and Senior Management, this project will share insight, tools and approaches to provide guidance and support to finance team members looking to build engagement and drive action at Board and senior management level.
- Incentivizing Action, this project aims to develop practical guidance and worked examples for finance professionals to help them understand how to identify sustainability related opportunities and risks within their value chain, and how to incentivize stakeholders on that value chain to integrate ESG factors in their business models and decision making.
The European Chapter - – members list can be found here. There are 19 members but no insurers and no mutuals.
Current projects are:
- Debt Finance, this project will develop guidance for Treasury teams on ways to integrate sustainability considerations into debt financing activities and the business case for doing so.
- Management Information and Reporting, this project will share insights, tools and guidance to support organizations looking to include sustainability considerations into reports provided to the Board, in order to give the most comprehensive information for business decision-making.
- Other projects are being developed on TCFD implementation and plastics.
The US Chapter – There are currently 11 members: Salesforce, Levi Strauss & Co, Securian, Gilead Sciences, Equinix, Mars, Moody’s, S&P Global, VMWare and Autodesk. Securian are the only mutual and only insurer.
The US Chapter was launched on 18th April 2019 (West Coast Launch, San Francisco) and 26th September (East Coast Launch, New York by the ringing of the NYSE bell).
The initial focus of this Chapter will be on implementing the existing A4S Essential Guides throughout their organizations.
Circles of Practice:
The A4S Circles of Practice are informal regional or sector level groups. The Circles of Practice provide finance leaders with the opportunity to gain insights from one another, by sharing practical approaches and exchanging information and knowledge.
A Circle of Practice comprises a group of organizations whose finance teams are seeking to work with others to embed sustainability into decision making. It provides a way for CFOs and their finance teams to engage with A4S's work and take steps towards implementation of guidance developed by the A4S CFO Leadership Network.
Current circles of practice exist in the below locations:
- Gulf region
- New Zealand
- The UK National Health Service
- Yorkshire, UK
- Central and Eastern Europe
If you would like to learn more about the collaboration between ICMIF and A4S please contact Shaun Tarbuck to find out more. If you would like to register your interest to join the ICMIF Sustainable Reporting Working Group please contact Steve Leicester, CFO, ICMIF.