Singapore Bank Creates New Chief Sustainability Officer Role

OCBC, the second largest financial services group in Southeast Asia by assets, has announced the creation of the role of Group Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) with a strong business and client focus.

Sustainable finance veteran, Mike Ng, will assume the Group CSO role on 1 August 2023. The Group CSO will build on OCBC’s track record in sustainability, and accelerate the OCBC Group’s efforts. He will also actively lead the efforts in supporting clients’ transition and delivering innovative products and services to help clients achieve their climate action plans.

Ng has advised corporate clients across different industries on their Net Zero transition and has led the Bank to make significant headway in the renewable energy sector, financing solar and wind farm projects worldwide. He was instrumental in OCBC’s commitment to cease financing for new coal-fired power plants in 2019 – the first Singapore bank to do so.

The bank said this new role will actively lead the sustainability agenda, including the transition to Net Zero economy on both the lending and wealth management fronts. With a stronger business performance measurement, the role will also go beyond promoting and reporting of Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) content or strategy to ensure effective business alignment.

OCBC set up the Board Sustainability Committee in February 2023 to step up efforts in its oversight of ESG issues. With the creation of the Group CSO role, OCBC significantly increases the focus on sustainability, a key pillar of its Corporate Strategy.

Led by Ng as the Head of the Sustainability Office for the Global Wholesale Banking, the division responsible for small and medium-sized enterprises and large corporates, OCBC announced in May 2023 the decarbonisation targets for six sectors and the key actions needed to achieve Net Zero in its financed emissions by 2050.

OCBC Group Chief Executive Officer Helen Wong said: “The diversified nature and size of the OCBC Group, coupled with the catalyst role that we play in the society, required us to curate the role of a Chief Sustainability Officer differently from other organisations.”

“OCBC has always been very strong in community development and governance. In recent years, we have stepped up our efforts in climate actions. Therefore, this new role requires an individual to have a strong sense of business acumen as well as deep expertise not just in sustainability and climate change but also in financial products and services.”

OCBC said it is on track to cross the S$50 billion mark in committed sustainable finance in 2023, two years ahead of schedule in hitting the target of ‘S$50 billion by 2025’.