RBS International
Pressure is mounting

As pressure mounts on fund managers globally to scrutinise their investment and lending activities, science-based targets (SBTs) are poised to become the leading framework to decarbonise their business. We worked with RBS International on a survey of 125 alternative investment funds, to better understand their adoption of SBTs and the barriers that remain in doing so.




COP26 provided a stark reminder of the investment gap in climate initiatives, placing mounting pressure on financial institutions to invest in the transition to net zero. 
To facilitate carbon positive investments in a meaningful way, financial services firms must first adhere to a shared framework. The Science Based Targets initiative provides such a framework. Yet, while much attention has so far focussed on corporates, funds are playing catch up.

RBS International had its own commitment to align with the Paris agreement and have made public commitments to exit customers who fail to decarbonise or set robust net zero targets. 

As such RBS International needed an engagement tool to facilitate conversations with customers highlighting the importance of SBTs and answering questions like: Are funds looking to adopt SBTs? If not, why not? How can they create a clear roadmap for the future? And what help do they need? 



In a niche market, that is notoriously difficult to reach, we solicited responses from 125 senior decision-makers at alternative investment funds across five jurisdictions and in five sectors. We estimate this to be around 22% of the market.

This was followed up by six deep dive interviews with industry influencers to uncover best practice. A fantastic panel of experts contributed their expertise including: 

  • Graeme Ardus, Head of ESG, Triton Partners 
  • Emily Hamilton, Head of ESG, Savills Investment Management 
  • Elisabeth Hermann Frederiksen, Head of Sustainability, NREP
  • Gustav Magnusson, Project Manager – Group Sustainability, EQT
  • Henry Morgan, Sustainable Investment Lead, Foresight Group 
  • Lindsay Smart, Head of Sustainability, Triple Point
  • The resulting research will be used as the nucleus of a 12-month integrated communications campaign, with extensive external internal and engagement plans

The campaign was executed in two phases. 


‘Big Bang’ (June 2022)

To aid internal engagement we created an extensive toolkit including conversation starters, FAQs, a ‘battlecard’ of key findings, and a stream of short-form content for client facing teams. 

The media took centre stage for the launch with an extensive PR campaign including targeted trade media. This was supported with a focused LinkedIn campaign, podcast and launch event.


‘Always On’ (Sep 2022 – May 2023)

External engagement included a flagship report, Pressure is mounting, and wide range of assets such as blogs, online display ads, banners, social memes, infographics and video, all used to drive traffic to the download. The assets will be rolled out across 12 months to continue the debate. 

RBS International has committed sponsorship at several industry events throughout the year. With ESG high on their agenda the research gives them a natural topic for speaking opportunities. Client roundtables will be used to engage with clients one-on-one to better understand the help they need so it can pivot its services accordingly.



Our survey approach meant that we have contacted over 22% of our target market and the interview process ensured that we had talked to some of the most influential industry spokespeople to provide valuable context to the key data points. 

70% of internal audience engaged in the first month

  • Internal launch email – 91% open rate, 14% CTR
  • Launch ‘town hall’ attendees – 270 (69% of total internal target)
  • Number of bankers attending smaller immersion sessions – 51 to date (38% of coverage team so far), with 6 more sessions planned
  • 76 visits to our internal SBT Hub resource page 


Media coverage outperforms previous campaigns

Coverage so far includes the following with initial conversations with The Daily Mail and FT also progressing.
New Private Markets (tbc)
Channel Eye (159,000)
ESG Investor (22,718)
Bailiwick Express (3,000)
BL Global (12,000)
Private Equity Wire (81,700)
Jersey Finance (194,793)
City Wealth (15,000)
Jersey Evening Post – pending

The research has clearly hit a chord. RBS International is exploring setting up a more formal think tank to take a deeper dive into some of the issues raised and we will be repeating the research next year to check on the progress made.

Qualitative feedback confirms internal approval

"Congratulations to the team on an excellent report spotlighting the SBTi trends in the funds industry. The findings are very interesting and give us food for thought as we support our customers on their transition journeys and the impact on their investments. Well done for putting together such a thoughtful and comprehensive report which we will all benefit from."

Caroline Haas, Head of Climate and ESG Capital Markets, NatWest