OCBC Bank (Malaysia) Bhd will continue to champion sustainable transformation moving forward, said its chief executive officer Datuk Ong Eng Bin – in line with the financial industry’s increasing focus on coordinated climate action across environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects, as well as the country’s broader goals in advancing sustainability.
To do so, OCBC Malaysia will gradually expand its suite of responsible financing solutions, diligently invest in talent development for increased sustainability-related proficiency, promote a heightened commitment to staff volunteerism, as well as further incorporate climate-related risk considerations into business decisions for reinforced capital resilience.
“It is our long-held belief that we do well by doing good and these strengthened operational fundamentals will allow the bank to tap into new opportunities, as we help customers build more sustainable businesses in transitioning to a low carbon future,” he said.
The bank will also focus on expanding awareness on sustainability-linked investments to retail customers, as well as providing more of such products and services to small and medium enterprises.
OCBC Malaysia in late 2021 participated in a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Bursa Malaysia to collaborate on an initiative to improve ESG adoption practices among Malaysian public-listed companies (PLCs), by establishing #financing4ESG and developing sustainable financing options that address PLCs’ ESG needs, in accordance with the FTSE4Good assessment criteria.
The MoU builds on the banking group’s global sustainability journey, as it has made good progress in the financing of renewable energy projects following its April 2019 announcement that it will no longer finance new coal-fired power plants.
Besides being a signatory of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures since 2019 and Equator Principles since 2020, the OCBC Group also supports the delivery of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, through the various initiatives tied to the 15 material ESG factors in the OCBC Group Sustainability Strategy.
The strategy includes five pillars, namely putting customers first; building a sustainable future; acting with integrity; valuing its people; and engaging communities.
“In view of these 15 factors, we commit to delivering a ‘Simply Spot On’ banking experience for our customers – providing innovative sustainable financing and investing solutions, actively managing our environmental footprint, exercising prudent good governance, continually empowering our employees, and dutifully contributing to our surrounding communities,” said Ong.
At the end of 2021, the OCBC Group achieved more than S$34bil in sustainable financing commitment, surpassing the revised target of S$25bil by 2025. Accordingly, the goal has been raised higher to S$50bil, also by 2025.
For OCBC Malaysia (including Labuan), Ong said that it is aiming for RM10bil of its financing portfolio to be sustainability-related by 2025 as part of its contribution to this overarching target.
“The OCBC Group has also committed to achieving carbon neutrality in operational emissions from 2022. As investment in decarbonisation of our operations bears fruit, the investment in carbon offset projects to eliminate the residual and unavoidable emissions (through the purchase of carbon credits) will reduce,” he shared.
Among the key initiatives it has rolled out include retrofitting the bank’s owned buildings with energy-efficient technology and assessing the suitability of its offices for solar energy installations.
The bank has introduced special staff loans for home solar panel installations and the purchase of electric vehicles, in order to motivate the adoption of climate-friendly practices amongst employees.
On the business front, there have been several notable gains, as Ong said: “Following through from the successful issuance of the first Asean Sustainability SRI Sukuk in Malaysia for Edra Solar in 2019, OCBC Malaysia deepened its position in the Malaysian sustainable finance sector through the successful execution of multiple sustainable and sustainability-linked financing mandates for corporate and government-linked entities.”
Its Islamic banking subsidiary, OCBC Al-Amin Bank Bhd, clinched the Special Award for Sustainable Energy Financing (Islamic Financing) at the National Energy Awards 2021.
The bank provides opportunities and encourages active participation in the multitude of cross-functional initiatives and programmes executed on an annual basis, as the sustainability strategy – driven by its board of directors and senior management – is dependent on reliable execution of all the supporting initiatives by employees of all levels.
The implementation of a robust sustainability training and development roadmap saw over 4,800 employees rack up a total of nearly 6,700 training hours in sustainability themed courses in 2021.
Besides prompting employees to set and achieve meaningful personal ESG targets, exceptionally passionate staff are duly celebrated during the annual CEO Awards, which includes recognition for unique impacts made under the #OCBCCares programme.
One of its latest initiatives is partnering with Star Media Group Bhd for the inaugural ESG Positive Impact Awards.
On this, Ong said: “OCBC Malaysia is very much focused on growing our presence in the realm of sustainability-linked products and services both for retail and business customers.
“We see the tie up with Star Media Group in these inaugural awards as solidifying our quest to achieve our objectives, as we keep on striving towards the greater good of the environment and our surrounding community.”