What does your company do?
NatWest Group is a bank with primarily a UK and western European focus. We cover retail and have commercial and markets businesses.
Last year our CEO announced our new purpose-led vision with three areas of focus: learning, enterprise and climate (which is my area of specialism). It's about how we can be a leader and accelerate the UK and our customers' ambitions around climate and in these other areas.
Our overall climate vision and strategy is to be a leading bank in the UK around the climate agenda.
In the retail banking space, that includes the launch of our green mortgage product with more retail products to come. On the commercial side, we are one of the largest lenders to the UK renewable sector. In the last year alone, we funded and financed £12bn of climate and sustainable finance. And in the markets area, we are one of the largest underwriters of green, social and sustainable bonds, particularly in sterling and in the eurozone area.
Tell us about your UK and global operations.
The majority of the Group's employees are in the UK. With the bank's heritage, we have significant representation in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. We also have significant operations in Manchester and towns and cities around the UK. Coutts, our wealth bank, is based in London, but has a significant presence in Bristol and around the country.
Internationally, we have significant hubs in Poland and India and our markets business has coverage in Asia and the Americas.
Beating climate change will require collaboration and the UK is a great spot for this with its international mix of students in our excellent universities to the diverse communities here which bring people together
What are the benefits of being UK based?
This year we will see the world's focus come to the UK on climate with the COP [United Nations Climate Change Conference] conference in November. We think this will catalyse and accelerate climate finance. It's a real opportunity for the UK to build back better after what's been a difficult year for everyone globally.
Beating climate change will require collaboration and the UK is a great spot for this with its international mix of students in our excellent universities to the diverse communities here which bring people together. The UK is also a great market for climate and sustainable finance. It is a long-standing financial centre and there is a lot of experience and knowledge.
There are also a lot of the right partners here in the UK such as the Green Finance Institute and we have had leadership from the Bank of England and these have helped to bring people together across sectors such as pensions, insurance and banking. We are seeing a sea change in how all parts of the circle of capital view sustainable finance and London is uniquely positioned to really champion that.
In London and across the UK we work very closely with a number of academic centres world-renowned for their research on climate change and the environment from the University of Edinburgh, Imperial College London, the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at the University of Oxford or the The Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics.
We are seeing a sea change in how all parts of the circle of capital view sustainable finance and London is uniquely positioned to really champion that
What are your company's growth ambitions and how does the UK feature in these?
We have people with sustainable finance expertise embedded across every area of the business and this is increasing as we build what I call our “carbon army” across the organisation.
Last year we brought our three-year target for sustainable finance a year earlier. This market is growing and continues to grow. Historically this was a niche thing but now every decision we make as a bank increasingly have to have climate and sustainability factored into them.
Building partnerships is key. We launched a partnership with Microsoft last week on how we help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) better understand their challenges. We are really trying to help these companies find solutions using the tech and data that banks have. It is no good telling a company your carbon footprint is 'x', unless we help with solutions to deal with that.