2019 Winners and highly commended finalists

The Finance For The Future winners and highly commended finalists from the 2019 awards are below. This year there was an additional award for climate leadership - to find out how this was recognised at the awards click here. 

Building sustainable financial products award 

Winner: Ecology Building Society, (UK)


Ecology Building Society has been committed to building a more sustainable future for over 35 years, by providing lending for properties and projects that have a positive environmental or social impact. Ecology’s pioneering range of ‘C-Change’ discounts incentivise energy efficiency by reducing the mortgage rate based on the property’s energy performance. Ecology is also a leading lender for community-led housing, which typically deliver affordable and comfortable energy-efficient homes, reducing bills, tackling fuel poverty and decarbonising housing. As part of its wider commitment to sustainable development, Ecology is also working to reduce both its carbon footprint and wider use of resources. 


Judges’ comments:

The judges were impressed with the overall goal of Ecology Building Society in funding the improvement of the existing UK housing stock, effectively implemented via their ‘C-Change’ product. The monitoring process over the course of the loan has a good level of granularity, with ambitious plans for improving this in the future. Ecology is very close to its members and used that to drive its principles. It influences regulation and law, in a much greater way than its balance sheet size would suggest.


Highly commended: Accounting for Energy, (UK) 

Accounting for Energy specialise exclusively in renewable energy land rent audits. Its royalty audits help UK landowners to get the best commercial returns from the renewable energy produced on their land. It benchmarks the performance of clients’ renewable energy projects against all similar projects across the UK and performs an in-depth historical financial analysis to ensure all potential revenue streams have been captured. Accounting for Energy then demonstrates how much the project has contributed to the environment and works with the associated energy company to correct any underpayments. 


Judges’ comments:
The judges noted that Accounting for Energy identified and addressed a unique niche in the market – the information asymmetry between landowners and renewable energy companies. Their collaborative approach with the energy companies and land agents creates transparency with landowners and could encourage significant growth in renewable energy generation in the UK. This organisation combined chartered accountant experience, with financial expertise and assurance training and brought it into a new area.


Communicating integrated thinking award

Winner: ABN AMRO, (The Netherlands)


ABN AMRO, a Dutch bank, believes integrated thinking and integrated reporting lead to better decision-making, which ultimately leads to long-term value creation. In its Integrated Annual Review and Impact Report, it describes how it creates value for stakeholders and that financial information and non-financial information both play a part in the decision-making process. This is an important incentive for ABN AMRO to encourage further integrated ways of thinking. ABN AMRO is the first bank in the world to publish an Impact Report. 



Judges’ comments: 

ABN AMRO’s core strategy refresh puts its clients’ sustainability transition at its heart. Their sleek ‘core and more’ approach puts the Integrated Review at the centre of its communications suite. ABM AMRO are trailblazing with an initial cut of the integrated P&L. 


 Driving change through education, training and academia award

Winner: Climate Change & Finance at Imperial College Business School 


The work on Climate Change & Finance at Imperial College Business School addresses the financial challenges brought about by climate change. It drives change within the financial industry through its research and further education activities. Research aims to fill the knowledge gap about the business case for a global zero-carbon transition. Research is relevant, timely and accessible, specifically targeted to a financial audience, defining and quantifying investment risks and opportunities. Its mission is to make an impactful contribution by increasing investment in climate change-mitigating solutions by educating financial stakeholders and the next generation of financial professionals. 


Judges’ comments:  

The multi-disciplinary approach taken, combined with the clear focus on finance, builds a compelling and distinct offering in the climate education of finance professionals. Its focus on mainstreaming and accessibility across the business school, and to professionals outside the education space, demonstrates a dynamic approach to an urgent issue. This year’s winner offers distinctive and compelling climate education for the financial sector, drawing on science, technology, economics, finance and accounting. It stood out because the initiative is clear, credible and in a strong position to grow and have a broad impact.

Highly commended: Centre for Social and Environmental Accounting Research (CSEAR), (UK)

CSEAR is a membership-based organisation that collectively explores the implications of, and the possibilities for, social, environmental and sustainability accounting and reporting. CSEAR’s largely academic members, often from professional accounting backgrounds, promote deliberation, research and engagement on social and environmental accounting through a wide range of activities. These include an annual UK international conference, regional conferences and workshops around the world, early career workshops and mentoring programmes, practitioner forums, a member newsletter, and an official CSEAR journal – the Social and Environmental Accountability Journal.  


Judges’ comments: 

CSEAR has delivered significant change in academia in its lifetime to date. It is difficult to imagine what social and environmental accounting would look like had CSEAR not existed. The judging panel was particularly impressed with the passion of individuals involved and their determination to create a space for the evolution of accounting practice. CSEAR has made a seminal contribution to social and environmental accounting research, driven change over many years, and shaped the landscape we see today. 


Embedding an integrated approach award

Winner: Tesco plc, (UK)


Tesco plc is a UK-based multinational retailer. ‘Every little help makes a big difference’ is a core value at Tesco. It drives what it does every day by focusing on its people, its products and its places – the three pillars of the Little Helps Plan. These pillars help Tesco to manage risks and opportunities from some of the key global issues facing the industry, from climate change to food waste. The Little Helps Plan is fully integrated into business plans across the group and every market has a clear three-year roadmap, as part of the financial long-term planning process. 


Judges’ comments: 

Through its Little Helps Plan, Tesco is leveraging its influential position with consumers to shift behaviours and it is gaining the attention of mainstream investors and analysts. The finance team has clearly been an integral part in driving this forward and ensuring quality of data. Sustainability is embedded in the culture of the business and is seen to be a driver of success by the Board and investors. 


Highly commended: Stora Enso, (Finland)

Stora Enso is a leading provider globally of renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wooden constructions and paper. Sustainability is a core element in its strategy and integrated in everything it does. Its sustainability agenda encompasses the social, environmental and economic responsibility of its operations throughout the value chain. The agenda is based on the classic triple bottom line model. Stora Enso has the long-term aim of securing funding partners that have sustainability as a fundamental part of their agenda. It has issued a green bond (SEK 6bn) to finance an acquisition of sustainably-managed and certified forest in Sweden. Additionally it has incorporated CO2 reduction targets as a pricing element in its revolving credit facility. 


Judges’ comments: 
The judges were impressed with the maturity of Stora Enso’s approach to doing business in a sustainable way, which is based around its integrated economic, social and environmental agenda. Sustainability is embedded in all financial processes and the quality of its non-financial information, which is subject to the same rigour as financial information and reasonably assured, has helped in raising sustainable finance. Stora Enso has been highly commended because the important role that finance plays in embedding an integrated approach shone through in the judging process.


Innovative project award

Winner: SteamaCo, (UK)


SteamaCo makes smart meters that have been tailored to the needs of energy suppliers in rural Africa so that they can supply unconnected communities without loss of payments. Their innovative design features allow them to operate anywhere by allowing SMS for data transfers. SteamaCo aims for its smart meters to be a key player in cutting carbon emissions and improving the social and economic quality of life for people in unconnected communities. Finnance has played a key role in developing the low-cost meters.


Judges’ comments: 

SteamaCo is helping to build the energy grids of the future through its advanced smart meters. They are connecting the unconnected to renewable supplies of electricity and improving their social and economic quality of life. The result is an end-to-end solution that provides revenue protection for energy suppliers, a return on capital for investors and the opportunity for consumers to manage their energy use.

SteamaCo was selected as the winner because of its ambition to use its innovative and data-efficient energy management system to transform the traditional model of providing access to electricity. It stood out because it offers a vision of the grids of the future, and how they can empower people to manage their energy needs while reducing carbon emissions and improving the quality of life of unconnected communities.


Highly commended: Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), (India)

Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) is India’s largest fast-moving consumer goods company with a heritage of over 80 years. Project Shakti is HUL’s door-to-door selling operation, which financially empowers women in rural India by helping them become micro entrepreneurs, equipping them to sell Unilever products in low income rural communities. 


Judges’ comments:

The Shakti programme is an impressive initiative that, to date, has financially empowered more than 100,000 women in rural India. By teaching them various aspects of how to run a retail business, from inventory to distribution management, it has increased the average income of a Shakti household and enhanced the lives and status of the women within their communities. The judging panel was particularly impressed with the practical implementation of GPS and density mapping technology to support rural supply chains. It’s success has led to the model being adapted and evolving in other countries. 


Investing and financing award

Winner: Globalance Bank, (Switzerland) 

Globalance Bank’s mission is to educate, inspire and empower investors to invest in companies which are seeking to address global challenges and invest in a positive future. Its value proposition comes from focusing on future-oriented investment strategies and enhancing transparency through digital innovations such as the Globalance Footprint®. Its approach includes offering portfolios and investment strategies in line with the Paris Agreement. This is an innovative approach to private banking. 


Judges’ comments: 

Globalance has developed an approach to investment that empowers asset owners to make the financial system more resilient and sustainable. It has developed an effective approach to evaluating impact, including bespoke data tools and effective engagement to supplement data sets. The bank also offers effective dashboards and communications to asset owners on the footprints of their portfolios. Globalance is effectively focusing on financial performance, growth of its business and high standards of customer service. The judges felt that Globalance was able to demonstrate genuine outcomes by helping asset owners to invest, not just in business with positive ESG impacts, but companies that are likely to be winners in the global economy of the future.