Maren Stadler-Tjan of Clifford Chance speaks at the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry’s upcoming European Asset Management Conference. Photo: Clifford Chance

Maren Stadler-Tjan of Clifford Chance speaks at the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry’s upcoming European Asset Management Conference. Photo: Clifford Chance

The Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry holds its European Asset Management Conference on 21-22 March 2023.

In advance of the event, Delano checked-in with Maren Stadler-Tjan, investment funds partner at the law firm of Clifford Chance in Luxembourg. She moderates the “From acronyms to ESG compliance or greenwashing?” panel, at 4:40pm.

Aaron Grunwald: What do you want the audience to get most from the “From acronyms to ESG compliance or greenwashing?” session?

: The speakers on my panel are extremely knowledgeable on the topic of and regulation compliance and apply these regulations to the funds they manage on a daily basis, despite the remaining uncertainty in the text and interpretation of these ESG related regulations.

My panellists will share with the audience how they manage their funds, as Ucits, AIFs and third party management companies in light of SFDR and the taxonomy regulation, which type of funds [under SFDR ] they manage, how they deal with the periodic reporting, which type of requests they are receiving from their investors, how they deal with issues that remain unclear under SFDR and what they consider to be the key challenges.

I have no doubt that the panel discussion will be very interesting for the audience and will help them to better understand certain unresolved items under SFDR, as well as to be inspired by the tips and tricks they may learn during the panel discussion. 

From your point of view, what are the most challenging ESG compliance or greenwashing issues that fund firms face this year?

Compliance with SFDR and the taxonomy regulation remains challenging in 2023 due to so many different questions on these regulations being unresolved. Additional consultations, such as the consultations on greenwashing or funds names, should therefore only be issued once at least most of the outstanding questions on SFDR and the taxonomy regulation have been sufficiently clarified. Asset managers are otherwise facing additional obligations being applied to them/the funds they manage, without being in a position to assess the potential consequences, considering that significant items under the ESG-related EU regulations remain unclear.

How do you personally define “greenwashing”?

When you Google “greenwashing” you will find the following definition as first result of your search: “Greenwashing is when an organisation spends more time and money on marketing itself as environmentally friendly than on actually minimising its environmental impact. It’s a deceitful marketing gimmick intended to mislead consumers who prefer to buy goods and services from environmentally conscious brands.”

However, when you look at [the European supervisory authorities’] for evidence on better understanding greenwashing, which was issued end of last year, you will see that the meaning of “greenwashing” could potentially be much broader than this and be linked to claims or, more precisely, misleading qualities of claims made by asset managers under SFDR.

For me personally, it is important to note that as long as many of the open questions relating to the SFDR and the taxonomy regulation have not been sufficiently clarified, it will be difficult to link potential “greenwashing” to the claims made by asset managers under SFDR or the taxonomy regulation, given that such claims or a re-classification of a product between the respective articles of SFDR (e.g., from article 9 to 8) may result from changes or clarifications of certain items under the regulations, rather than from a wilfully misleading statement of an asset manager.

Aside from your own talk at the Alfi event, which session are you most looking forward to hearing, and why?

All sessions sound extremely interesting and I am looking forward to the two days of the conference. I am especially looking forward to the keynote speech of Verena Ross from Esma [editor’s note: the European Securities and Markets Authority, Tuesday 21 March at 09:25am] as well as the interview of Marco Zwick from the [Luxembourg financial regulator] CSSF in the afternoon of the second day of the conference [at 3:50pm].

I find it particularly interesting to hear Esma and the Luxembourg regulator share their views with the market on the current economic environment, their expectations for the near future, and also their views on current challenges and how to overcome them.