Over half of financial services executives have identified environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues as the top concern over the next decade, according to a new survey by BNP Paribas.
The bank surveyed 115 'senior and experienced bankers and corporate executives' in its Banking in a Decade report.
Excluding finance, the survey found that 19 per cent of respondents thought climate change/'ESG concerns' was the most concerning issue in 2015.
However, 52 per cent of finance executives expected ESG/climate change to be the most concerning 'ex-finance' issue by 2025.
"Fifty-two per cent of corporate leaders expect ESG to be the top concern for their business in a decade, while over a third of finance sector leaders rated it as significantly increasing in importance," the report said.
"Accordingly, local financial institutions and their corporate clients alike will have to better consider ESG elements, not just to meet the market, but also because it is good business risk management.
"The social and governance aspects of a business can have as dire, if not more so, impacts as environmental ones."
The next most pressing non-finance issues in 2025 were expected to be 'keeping pace with technology developments', 'stressed infrastructure' and 'government' issues, according to the report.
When financial concerns are included in the mix, 55 per cent of respondents named 'economic shocks in domestic or global markets' as their expected top concern in 2025.
This was followed by 'delivering sustainable returns to shareholders and business owners' and 'national economic growth'.
"The majority of Australian financial institutions expect the global economy to maintain current levels, with 80 per cent prepared for a period of comparatively low growth," BNP Paribas said.
"Corporate leaders are less optimistic. A quarter expect global economic growth to be well below historical trend at decade’s end. Only three per cent expect it to be well above trend. Overall, almost two-thirds expect little change from current levels."