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AwardsAsia Private Banking Awards

Best for ESG in Hong Kong 2021

Bank J Safra Sarasin

Andy Chai, Bank J Safra Sarasin.jpg
Andy Chai, Bank J. Safra Sarasin

If any bank might be fighting the urge to declare “we told you so” to peers playing catch-up in the sustainable investment space, it’s this family-owned group with a heritage reaching back 180 years.

In 2019, J Safra Sarasin commemorated 30 years as an environmental, social and governance pioneer. At the time, all too many bank executives were still doing “what is ESG?” Google searches. But that set the Swiss bank up well for 2020, a year posterity may remember as an ESG game-changer, when a pandemic convinced the laggards that not going big on sustainable investing is a fiduciary failing.

J Safra Sarasin’s entry grew out of a different crisis: a major accident at a pharmaceutical company near its headquarters in Basel in 1989. What started out as a moral stance – viewing the company’s mission through the lens of sustainability – soon morphed into a profitable business.

Last year, the first year of its Asia CEO Andy Chai’s tenure, was no exception.