A day in the life of Rosa Sangiorgio, Head of ESG at Pictet Wealth Management
6.00am | Zurich
Monday morning. I love summer. The sun comes up early enough not to make me feel like a vampire when catching the early train to Geneva.
Starbucks in Hauptbahnhof is open! Cool Lime Refresha, low on ice: basically lemonade with caffeine. And yes, I bring my own cup. Before covid I was a very regular client of the Starbucks in Sihlcity/Zurich. Every workday at 8am you would find me queueing for my daily CLR and cinnamon roll fix. Every day, every week. When the lead barista, José, went to the US for a company course, he brought me back a very special cup - one that you can’t get in Europe… Crazy… I almost cried when I got the gift! Life is simply better when you connect with people.
6.32am | Zurich
In the business section of the IC1 train
Laptop plugged in, phone in hand, headphones on. Geneva here we come. I have always loved trains – you can enjoy a moving panorama for hours. Switzerland is bliss.
Slightly less bliss: the tally of unread emails in inbox (237). Yes, the important ones have all been read and answered, these are “not urgent”, but still. Will dedicate train journey to sorting it out.
Still on train, almost in GenevaAs expected, most emails were indeed not urgent. A lot of ESG data providers willing to offer their services. Must remember to get in touch with two of them who mentioned a newly available suite of social impact indicators. Definitively need more metrics on the impact of our investments, but not easy to find trustworthy ones.
A few good articles on the latest IPCC report, notes to self:
– If we manage to limit global warming to 1.5°C, we can estimate losing only around 4% of GDP by 2050 (vs a worst case scenario of -18% with global warming above 3°C). Swiss Re Study, 2021– Stop saying “save the planet”. “Save the humans” is far more appropriate. Earth will still exist at almost any temperature. It’s us humans that can only exist within the very narrow temperature band we’ve enjoyed since developing an opposable thumb. – LA Times, April 2022.
9.22am | Geneva
Tram 15 from Cornavin to Pictet-Thélusson
10.00am | Geneva
Presented the Sustainability Preferences client questionnaire and links with our available investment offering. It took an hour and a half instead of the planned 30’, but time well spent. Awareness on the regulatory agenda is key, as is securing the support to ensure we continue developing our investment offering so that we have the right responsible solutions to fulfill our clients’ preferences.
The key question is how many of our clients will have sustainability preferences? I have a very biased perspective, as all the clients I meet (by design) are proactively asking to make a positive impact with their wealth (and sometimes quite knowledgeable about the topic), but we will only really have meaningful statistics after August 2nd, when the new regulation takes effect.
12.00pm | Staff cafeteria
Working lunch with a young colleague
Got the question if people “underestimating you as a young woman will pass with time”... a tough one to answer. I have managed portfolios - both “traditional” and “responsible” – for decades, for both institutional investors and private clients, with algorithms and actively. I made money, sold discretionary mandates, explained performances… and still some people assume that I am a naïve “tree-hugger”, for emotionally advocating for the journey towards responsible investing. Not fun. :-(
Honestly, it is precisely my experience managing investments that is the main driver behind my passion for responsible investing. It’s clear to me that today we have a disconnect between values (what is important to us) and value (price). Meaning that we don’t really “price” properly the things that we hold most important. My bet is that in the long term, through a mix of new regulations, changed consumer behaviours and the proper pricing of externalities, prices will align with values. Investing more in the undervalued activities that are key to humans is my long-term bet, be it cleaner energies, regenerative agriculture, better education, you name it.
2.00pm | Geneva
ESG team meeting
Working on the transition of the traditional discretionary mandates to responsible investing... A lot of progress has been made in broadening the investment universe and allowing our portfolio managers more RI options in fund selection, but we still have work to do on ETFs, hedge funds, government bonds.
The team will prepare few slides, so we can sit with the ESG Steering Committee in the next few weeks to understand what to prioritise and how.
4.00pm | Geneva
Client meeting: This is the part of my job that I love most!
We met the family office of a potential client, a very successful entrepreneur. During his due diligence, the relationship manager noticed a rich sustainability section on her company’s website and suggested to include ESG as one of the topics at today’s meeting.
It turned out that, while the entrepreneur herself is very keen (and excited) about sustainability in her own activities, the family office managing her portfolio had not yet included specific ESG requirements, as (for the time being) they felt it was a “tick the box exercise”.
We shared the Pictet Responsible Vision and some details of our RI solutions, which succeeded in challenging the “tick box” misconception. We also covered the latest “greenwashing” cases and how our proprietary ESG frameworks, track record in thematic investing, leading edge extra-financial reporting and the commitment of our managing partners are key components of a trustworthy Responsible Investing Journey.
Not sure if they will go for a discretionary RI mandate with us, but thanks to the engaging topic, we managed to have a very interactive conversation, and win their trust. The relationship manager was very enthusiastic!
Note to self:
– ask our RI Ambassadors if one slide on greenwashing could be useful for their future conversations.
– Send the RM our 2021 active ownership report as soon as we publish. They seemed very interested!
6.00pm | Geneva
Finally prepared some notes for next week’s event in Monaco. 64 key clients, 9-star Michelin chef, fully sustainable menu, 5 key discussion topics: underwater, cultivation, nutrition, food security, climate change.
8.00pm | Geneva
Staying here every Monday and Tuesday nights, am basically family. Now. What for dinner.
9.00pm | Geneva
Uber Eats from Little Indian Street Food, delicious chicken kourma, accompanied by the last chapter of Adam Grant’s book: Think Again. “If you don’t look back at yourself and think, ‘Wow, how stupid I was a year ago,’ then you must not have learned much in the last year.”