Russia’s Otkritie Bank passes sustainable development strategy

Russia’s Otkritie Bank passes sustainable development strategy
Otkritie Bank is currently owned by the Central Bank of Russia, but it is rumoured to be mulling an IPO. / Image: RG72 via Wiki Commons.
By Theo Normanton in Moscow February 15, 2022

In a rare move for the Russian financial sector, the Supervisory Board of Otkritie Bank has confirmed a wide-ranging new sustainable development strategy. The document sets out a plan for developing the bank’s ESG offering up until the end of 2023, and establishes a board to oversee its implementation.

The strategy covers a range of factors – from environmentally responsible investment to diversity in the workforce. It was created in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, released in 2016.

Otkritie is Russia’s seventh-largest bank. It was rescued by the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) after the so-called Garden Ring Crisis in 2017, but it is now among Russia’s fastest-growing financial institutions, and the regulator is preparing it for sale. The bank is rumoured to be mulling an IPO in 2022.

The document approved by Otkritie’s Supervisory Board “establishes the bank’s development trajectory in line with the ESG agenda up until the end of 2023”, Otkritie said in a statement. The implementation of the strategy will be overseen by the ESG managing committee, which has representatives from all the bank’s key departments.

As part of the strategy, the bank has set itself goals for the end of 2023. These include further improving the workforce gender balance – currently 57% of Head Office employees are women, and 40% of top management – increasing its client-base from small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) by 30%, and doubling the bank’s investments in businesses “which have a positive impact on the environment and society”.

Two of the bank’s main “development vectors” within the new strategy are “responsible finance” and “responsible consumption and production”. Otkritie has committed to regularly report its progress on energy and resource efficiency, with a target of reducing Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions and energy consumption by over 10% in the next two years.

 “One of the main tasks of our ESG strategy is to increase the transparency of our activities in the sphere of sustainable development for all interested parties,” said Roman Zilberman, vice-president and chairman of the ESG managing committee.

“As part of this task, we’re already in dialogue with Russian and international ratings agencies about the possibility of receiving external independent ratings of the bank’s ESG maturity. We will also expand the organisation’s non-financial accountability in 2022, in line with international standards and the recommendations of the Central Bank,” Zilberman said.