Former AustralianSuper Chief Executive Ian Silk will join KPMG Australia in a part-time position as a Special Advisor. In this diverse role he will work on environmental, social and governance matters as part of the firm’s reinvigorated plans to help clients embrace the greater focus on ESG responsibilities, as well as on investment and infrastructure matters, strategy and leadership issues.
Widely recognised as a leader in ESG and broader risk management after more than two decades leading Australia’s largest super fund, AustralianSuper and the Australian Retirement Fund, Ian Silk offers a wealth of expertise to support clients in meeting heightened ESG expectations from investors and regulators.
His appointment comes as the firm expands its market leading ESG practice and introduces new services. Key new initiatives include the launch of a Decarbonisation Hub, and the provision of specialist ESG training to KPMG’s entire Australian workforce.
KPMG Australia CEO Andrew Yates said: “As we are adapting our own business to ensure we have a positive impact on society, our clients are also seeking to change to drive a more sustainable and equitable future. We are accelerating investment in client solutions and our people, as well as managing our own impact in this critical area.
“With one in every three CEOs planning to invest more than 10 per cent of revenue towards enhancing sustainability, ESG is one of our priority investment areas under our refreshed firm strategy. We will sharpen our focus in supporting clients on these important issues. I am particularly excited about what Ian can offer our clients. Given his experience, there is no-one in Australia better placed to provide strategic advice about ESG matters.
“Importantly, the approach is underpinned by a recognition of our firm’s own responsibility to improve our impact on society and the ESG commitments outlined in our recent Impact Report,” added Andrew Yates.
Ian Silk said: “I’m highly motivated about the opportunities in ESG. ESG issues are fundamentally investment and financial issues. There is greater recognition in the market that most strong performing companies are those that take seriously ESG matters in the day-to-day running of their businesses. It’s a top order issue in Australia, with companies heavily exposed to climate change risks and regulators are continuing to escalate their expectations in how we should manage those risks.”
Adrian King, Melbourne-based Global Head, ESG & Sustainability Services for KPMG said: “While KPMG has built up its market-leading sustainability practice over more than 30 years, the last few years have seen a huge shift in corporate, regulatory, investor and wider stakeholder interest. ESG concerns have risen still further during the Covid-19 pandemic and are now at the top of the business agenda.
“There is now a much wider business understanding of the significance of ESG impacts and even more importantly investors now see these impacts happening within the time horizons affecting their investment valuations. This new awareness has driven a massive shift in sentiment by investors on the importance of ESG. This, in turn, is driving the ESG related regulations, policies, standards and frameworks that are required to facilitate robust investment decisions. The whole area is moving extremely fast, and I believe we are only at the very beginning of this transformation.”
As part of a three-year US$1.5 billion investment from KPMG globally, the firm has an ambition for all KPMG people around the globe – including its 10,000-strong Australian workforce – to receive specialist ESG training this financial year. The initiative aims to empower people to be agents of positive change and develop the most comprehensive expertise in the market. KPMG is working with two leading global academic institutions – University of Cambridge Judge Business School and NYU Stern Executive Education – to deliver the training which will examine various aspects of ESG, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and the firm’s own impact commitments.
KPMG Australia will play a key role in establishing and delivering a Decarbonisation Hub, focusing on supporting clients in the ASPAC region, and working closely alongside member firms in India, China, Germany, USA and the United Kingdom. The Decarbonisation Hub will centralise access to specialist capabilities, allowing member firms to tap into leading experts to help support large multi-national organisations pursue their net zero objectives. The Hub will focus on climate risk, low carbon value creation, low carbon investment opportunities, and climate policy advisory.
Consistent with KPMG’s global strategy, the new ESG agenda for clients in Australia will focus on five areas:
- ESG Solutions. Harnessing data and accelerating the development of new technologies to provide pragmatic solutions for clients that make a difference in their ESG journeys. Supporting clients achieve Net Zero, drawing on a Global Decarbonisation Hub and Tools such as ClimateIQ. KPMG will work alongside Alliance partners to develop tech and data-enabled new tools and solutions.
- Reporting Excellence and ESG Governance. Delivering excellence in non-financial reporting, assurance and ESG Governance to meet the increasing requirements of investors, regulators and stakeholders
- Talent. Investing in KPMG’s people and partners to develop the most comprehensive expertise in the market, with dedicated ESG training programs delivered with the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School and NYU Stern School of Business Executive Education, two of the world’s leading academic institutions.
- Supporting developing nations. The Australian firm will participate in the development of Emerging Markets Accelerators to deliver support and financing expertise to help developing nations in the Asia Pacific region.
- Collaboration, Action and Outcomes. ESG challenges cannot be solved by KPMG and clients working alone. KPMG will seek to collaborate with industry, NGOs, government, regulators, research houses and universities to deliver outcomes.