Sustainability goals miss the number 1 goal of sustainability

Readers will be aware of the banking crisis playing out in front of our eyes. Let’s take a moment to look at just two demises: Silicon Valley Bank and Credit Suisse, both effectively nationalised in Government emergency actions this month.

When it comes to environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals, both these banks were enraptured.

Credit Suisse stated that “embracing sustainability in everything we do is essential to our long term success.” Golly, that important?

Meanwhile SVB had a serious list of strategic ESG goals “as we set targets to make a meaningful difference while holding ourselves accountable to our stakeholders in a transparent manner.” You see how serious this ESG stuff is?

As we know, these two banks failed. Why? It’s not possible to know as an outside observer. It wasn’t even possible for KPMG to know as SVB auditor. Look at this extract from the Wall Street Journal:

What was missing was what ought to be the number 1 goal of sustainability objectives. It doesn’t matter how many woke strategic initiatives are in a bank’s statement of ESG principles if the business goes bust. It’s too late for these two banks but for all others, I suggest you edit your list of ESG objectives to insert at the top of the list: “Don’t go broke.”

As to KPMG, those of us accustomed to the practices of the big 4 auditors will not be surprised at all.