skip to primary navigationskip to content

Client Engagement: Reshaping the bank-client relationship to accelerate the transition to a net zero economy

Banks have a vital role to play in accelerating the transition to a net zero carbon economy. Bank 2030: Accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy (CISL, 2020) demonstrated that banking models and mindsets need to innovate in order to provide value and support to clients as they pursue climate objectives. 

Today, banks sit in a unique position between the capital and the real economy. Their financing activities and connection into the real economy are an important lever for engagement for change. On the one hand sustainability and sustainable finance experts in the banks remain limited in number, restricting the ability to scale knowledge across relationship managers who interact with clients on a regular basis. On the other hand, clients' Chief Financial Officers and Treasury teams are often not working closely with their own sustainability agenda; finance may not yet align with a company’s climate strategy.

The Banking Environment Initiative’s project “Client Engagement” will enable banks’ relationship managers and product specialists to engage with their clients for change in the real economy and accelerate net zero carbon transition. We will develop a tool, which aims to empower immediate action, long-term partnerships and resilience for future environmental, social and economic dimensions.

The current bank-client relationship model is not fit to engage with the client on transition plans as knowledge, time and standardised questions and topics to ask are not clear. Currently, both finance and the real economy lack robust climate-related approaches with which to design and execute transition plans, assess decisions and monitor progress.

The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) is seeking to address these challenges, leading research through their Centre for Sustainable Finance in collaboration with the Executive Education and Centre for Business Transformation teams at CISL. The tool will be published in April 2021.


CISL would like to thank members of the Banking Environment Initiative for their support of this research into client engagement for the net zero carbon economy.

Sponsorship opportunities

There are a limited number of opportunities for funding partners to get involved in this project.

Please contact Jasminka Enderle at to request more information on funding partnerships and to register your interest in being kept up to date.

Do follow the Centre for Sustainable Finance on Linkedin for regular updates.

Relevant CISL research

Bank 2030: Accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy

Banking Environment Initiative

Centre for Sustainable Finance

Working towards a climate neutral Europe: Jobs and skills in a changing world

The Sustainable Investment Framework: Measuring investment impacts

Filed under: