Hong Kong Backs Industry-led Voluntary Code for ESG Ratings and Data Products Providers

By: Carolyn Sng and Sook Young Yeu

The Securities and Futures Commission in Hong Kong (SFC) has announced its support for the development of a voluntary code of conduct (VCoC) for ESG ratings and data products providers. The proposed VCoC, which will be open for ESG ratings and data products providers to sign up voluntarily, and will align with international best practices as recommended by the International Organization of Securities Commissions.

The VCoC will be developed by the Hong Kong ESG Ratings and Data Products Providers VCoC Working Group (VCWG), comprising Hong Kong and international representatives from the ESG ratings and data products industry as well as key users from the financial sector, with the International Capital Market Association serving as Secretariat. The SFC, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, and the Insurance Authority, the key financial services regulators in Hong Kong, will sit as observers to the VCWG.

The initiative is the outcome of the SFC’s fact-finding exercise and industry outreach conducted to understand matters related to ESG ratings and data products providers. The exercise found that surveyed asset managers highlighted common concerns about data quality, transparency, and conflicts of interest management of the providers. The proposed VCoC is expected to provide a streamlined and consistent basis for asset managers to conduct due diligence or ongoing assessment on ESG service providers and help mitigate the risk of greenwashing in investment products.

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