PwC with Phoenix Group: Playing a vital role in financing the transition to Net Zero

Sustainability Award

Phoenix Group is the UK’s largest long-term savings and retirement business, with 14 million customers and £323 billion of assets under management. They have a strong purpose that’s tied to their corporate strategy and the recognition of their role in society, which for them translates into putting sustainability at the core of their business. Phoenix’s CEO is a driving force on this agenda, and at the heart of it wants to see the business deliver for society and investors.

At their 2020 Investor Day, Phoenix announced “we will be a leader in sustainability, making this integral to our purpose and strategy”. They also committed to becoming net zero by 2050.

By supporting climate action, Phoenix will have a benefit to business, people and the planet, both now and in the future, as recognised by the UN Sustainable Development Goal 13. However, they also recognised that they had a long way to go, and their strategy had to be underpinned by governance and risk management, with TCFD and regulatory compliance being an enabler to their net zero commitment. For this, Phoenix needed help, and they turned to PwC.

Phoenix’s overarching objectives were delivering for customers, investing assets in a sustainable manner and reducing their environmental impact. To ensure these goals were met, Phoenix articulated three clear objectives for PwC’s project:
– PRA compliance by December 2021;
– successful completion of the Bank of England’s CBES exercise; and
– improved TCFD disclosure, demonstrating their ambition to lead on sustainability, including support on defining metrics, integrating risk management and strategic decision-making.

The proposed solution would bring PwC’s best insurance knowledge together with technical expertise in climate, governance, risk management, scenario modelling, metrics and targets, and disclosure.

First, they helped Phoenix formulate a strategic view of their current position, in relation to sustainability strategy, regulations and peers. From this, they developed an implementation roadmap of activities needed to improve the business practices, in line with the ambition to become a sustainability leader. Then, PwC implemented the roadmap activities to achieve Phoenix’s strategic aims, by transforming multiple workstreams within the company that would allow them to realise efficiency improvements.

The project successfully helped Phoenix move the goalposts internally on their position on climate awareness, facilitating strategic and financial decisions to support sustainable investments, and supporting their customers and wider economy in ensuring a low-carbon transition. It also enabled Phoenix to achieve their specific objectives: PRA SS3/19 compliance was achieved by the December 2021 deadline; the CBES exercise was successfully completed; and Phoenix now externally report against all the TCFD recommendations.

Where PwC surpassed the objectives was through its approach to working with the client. Phoenix have gained significant technical knowledge, and are increasingly able to undertake their own sustainability assessments. Furthermore, from PwC’s in-depth work on the key topics of risk management, governance, scenario analysis and metrics, the client now has the depth of understanding to speak confidently about progress on climate change.

View the PwC profile in the MCA Members Directory.