(Bloomberg) — Swiss wealth and asset management firm Lombard Odier is partnering with the University of Oxford to deepen its understanding of sustainability issues as it hones its investment process ahead of an expected environmental-induced overhaul of the global economy.
Lombard Odier and Oxford formed a five-year strategic partnership to facilitate the exchange of knowledge between academia and financial services on issues such as climate change and biodiverisity and to help sustainable finance become a ‘‘major field of academic research,’’ according to a joint statement.
Oxford academics will provide training for Lombard Odier’s investment professionals, who will also integrate the work of the academics into their research and investment products. As part of the deal, Geneva-based Lombard Odier, which oversees about 290 billion Swiss francs ($316 billion), will endow the first senior academic post in sustainable finance at a major university.
Hubert Keller, managing partner at Lombard Odier, said in an interview that the partnership is designed to “turbocharge’’ his firm’s sustainability efforts at a time when climate change and overuse of the earth’s resources are forcing rapid changes in the way companies do business. Lombard Odier is positioning itself to profit from a ‘‘global sustainability transition’’ that will result in a leaner, more inclusive and cleaner economy, he said.
‘‘We look at sustainability as an investment opportunity — an opportunity for major returns for our clients,’’ Keller said. ‘‘We are at the precipice of a major shift in the economic model. There are going to be companies that are going to be completely and fundamentally repositioned for the better and there are going to be companies that will suffer greatly.’’
Part of that investment is to finance academic research. Ben Caldecott has been appointed the Lombard Odier associate professor and senior research fellow of sustainable finance at the University of Oxford, based at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. Caldecott also is the strategy adviser for finance at the U.K. Cabinet Office for the next United Nations global climate summit known as COP26.
‘‘If sustainable finance is to succeed, it needs firm foundations and it therefore needs an academic community working on it,’’ said Caldecott. ‘‘It’s really important that it be rigorous and robust, and the products and services that are offered deliver in terms of dealing with material ESG risks and making a positive contribution to the great environmental and social challenges that we face.’’
(Adds more information about Ben Caldecott in fifth paragraph.)
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