Dr Andy Sloan - Deputy Chief Executive of Strategy at Guernsey Finance
Tell us about yourself and your organisation
I’m Deputy Chief Executive of Strategy at Guernsey Finance, responsible for the development of Guernsey’s financial services strategy. In this role I chair Guernsey Green Finance, our green initiative which we created to deliver on our commitment to strategic action on green and sustainable finance.
Feels old to say it, but my career spans three decades now. I joined Guernsey Finance in 2018 from the Guernsey Financial Services Commission where I was Director of Financial Stability and International Policy Advisor. Before that I was Chief Economist and Head of Policy & Research for the Guernsey Government. In both those roles I’ve spent a lot of time dealing with governments and regulators.
I’m an economist by trade, I’ve a PhD in Macroeconomics which I’m proud of, but going back fifteen or so years, my previous career was in communications in London. I worked at Hill and Knowlton in the late 90s and was head of European PR at the Bank of New York in the early 2000s.
That eclectic combination of experience and expertise works for me, particularly in my current role. And it works for me especially as a protagonist for green finance on the island.
Guernsey was recently named Best International Finance Centre at the WealthBriefing European awards in London. How important a contributing factor was green finance to your success?
The jurors specifically cited our approach to green finance so it was obviously a factor. It’s always pleasing to receive recognition and in that respect its value is almost as much in helping promote the cause of green finance than it is kudos for us. If it helps us more broadly spread the message, publicise the issues and deepen awareness of green finance that’s better for me than having the award on the shelf.
How do you see green finance developing in Guernsey?
It’s been an incredible journey for us. Our initial foray was driven by product and indeed that’s still very central to our ‘contribution’ to climate change mitigation. But along the way our understanding of the issue and what’s required very much broadened and we soon developed a five-strand strategy: alignment with global taxonomy, product development, international engagement, partnership development and working with global policy groups. We moved quickly as a jurisdiction, we had great support - from the UK and at a political level locally - and it gave me immense pleasure for Guernsey Green Finance to become a member of the United Nations’ Financial Centres for Sustainability Global Network. It might sound like a cliché but it’s true that there’s so much we can learn from each other, and so much value to be gained in collaboration.
What in green finance excites you?
For me, it’s not excitement, that’s not quite the right word. It’s passion. Why do I get passionate about green finance? It’s saving the human race - our efforts in green and sustainable finance are our contribution to saving the human race. I am occasionally looked at a little incredulously, but this is true, and we have little time. The dinosaurs roamed the earth for 140 million years as my four-year-old son’s library books reliably inform me, before an extinction event wiped them out. Our extinction event is self-made and hurtling towards us after just 40,000 years. I’m not saying this to be all ‘à la mode, Extinction Rebellion’. I’ve been making this point to colleagues and in speeches regularly for a while now – the evidence is online on my LinkedIn site. People used to look at me as if they thought I’d been smoking something. Not so much now.
Regulation vs innovation: which is more important right now?
I think it depends who’s and whose regulation. I’m based in Guernsey, we’re outside the EU. We saw the need for verifiable, certifiable green investments, and our Guernsey Green Fund creates a regulatory regime to provide a trusted transparent platform to facilitate capital flows into climate finance projects in particular. That’s innovation and regulation combined which we rather feel is our forte. The risk of the prescriptive legislative approach à la the EU’s sustainable investment action plan is that processes are followed to little outcome, creating the additional risk of regulation hampering the flow of capital. That said, the area where regulation does have a clear role is global standards and taxonomies. The risk is we have too many. We don’t need a perfect taxonomy, we need consistency. It’s easy for those outside the green circus to be put off by the number and sheer scale of the various taxonomies.
How do you see the green finance space evolving?
Pat Cox, a previous chair of the European Parliament, was inspirational in Dublin at the launch of FC4S Europe last Autumn - stating that what was most important in fighting climate change was not what one has done to date, but the ambition one sets out to achieve – calling for leadership in fighting climate change. For me, this is about mainstreaming and lifecycling. Green investing needs to become more than an asset class. But to get to that stage it needs to become a mainstream asset class first and we’re not there yet.