Insight | Handbook

A Practical Guide to Greenwashing for Financial Institutions

Our guide considers what is greenwashing, the developing legal landscape and how financial institutions may mitigate the risk of reputational damage.
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Financial institutions are critical players in the transition to a carbon-neutral economy and, because of their role in allocating capital, they have the potential to act as catalysts in achieving better sustainability and climate-related outcomes in society. Sustainability is relevant to every aspect of a financial institution's business, for example, their prudential resilience in the wake of climate change, to how they are run; with the requirement for appropriate corporate governance, well-designed policies and procedures, accompanied by compliant reporting and disclosure.

Sustainability considerations are now also at the forefront of services provided to customers and participation in financial markets generally. For well over a decade, the sustainable investment market has witnessed accelerated growth as global capital markets have quickly evolved to support companies’ growing commitment to embed environmental and responsible business practice considerations into their long-term strategies. Global funds and private equity are increasingly associating their investment strategies with sustainability classifications and targets while making public and pre-contractual disclosures around this approach, as lenders are exploring credible transition plans to help their borrowers move closer to net zero carbon emissions.

In doing so, litigation and enforcement are key risks faced by financial institutions, for example, over greenwashing allegations. It is vital then to understand how to mitigate and manage these risks together with the strategies available to bring disputes to a satisfactory conclusion, safeguarding brand and reputation. The need for quality transactional, advisory and disputes legal services to support your sustainability journey has never been greater.

Our multidisciplinary global team works alongside clients to identify key risks, establish and evolve sustainable practices, make pivotal investments and comply with changing regulation – to set direction and navigate legal risk in the journey ahead, and support financial institutions and businesses to move forward, sustainably.


Our updated Sustainability Risk Radar covers trends, developments and associated risks relevant for financial institutions (FIs). Following our Sustainability Framework, we have identified the top risks that FIs need to consider along with the relevant services we can offer. The framework offers a holistic view of the risks faced by financial institutions in respect of sustainability, for example, from disclosures and reporting, capital market issuances, finance & loans to responsible investing. Reflecting market experience, this year's edition places increased emphasis on greenwashing and transition finance, as well as inclusion, diversity and equity in the workplace, being an important social concern.

Download our Sustainability Risk Radar to learn more.

Sustainability Risk Radar

Sustainability Risk Radar


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