Banking Sustainable Products & Services

Sustainable Products & Services

The demand for investments that incorporate economic as well as environmental and social aspects in addition to generating financial returns is growing steadily. At Credit Suisse, we offer a broad range of products and services that give investors access to sustainable investment opportunities.

We have continuously expanded our range of products and services that focus on environmental and social themes across our divisions for over a decade. The demand from clients for investments that incorporate economic, environmental and social aspects is growing steadily. At Credit Suisse, we offer a broad range of products and services that give investors access to sustainable investment opportunities. When developing sustainable products and services, Credit Suisse works with experts from research institutes, non-governmental organizations and leading think-tanks. These partnerships help us to meet our clients' need for promising business and engagement opportunities in the field of philanthropy and responsible investment. 

Credit Suisse also offers roundtables to foster peer sharing as well as thematic events and forums to bring together thought leaders, practitioners, and clients to discuss latest developments and future trends in the field of philanthropy and sustainable investment.

Philanthropy & Sustainable Investment (P&SI)

Credit Suisse designs investment solutions that are based on our three-pillar Philanthropy, Impact Investment and Sustainable Investments (P&SI) framework.


Client objective: Realization of social and environmental impact and changes through strategic philanthropy. In this field, Credit Suisse works closely with clients to help them incorporate their personal philanthropic values and social objectives into their engagement and investment strategy, providing advice on the evaluation and selection of existing projects and the establishement of vehicles to make charitable donations, such as foundations and trusts.

  • Strategic philanthropy: We provide customized advice which may include drafting a family values statement, integrating philanthropy into the family governance framework and succession plan, and developing a grantmaking policy and grantmaking program for structures making charitable distributions.
  • Individual or family charitable structures: We offer tailor-made solutions for the establishment, management and monitoring of a client's charitable structure. These solutions may include input into the governance framework, drafting a grantmaking policy and grantmaking program, coordination of project due diligence and administrative support, services relating to investment strategy and asset management, impact review and financial reporting. Furthermore, our subsidiary Credit Suisse Trust assists with the formation and administration of charitable trusts. For further information, see below.
  • Charitable client foundations: Accentus, Empiris, Symphasis and SymAsia: An alternative for clients to creating a charitable foundation of their own. This offering is targeted at clients who prefer to delegate setting up and managing their charitable foundation yet still wish to determine the projects supported. Credit Suisse assumes the foundations' operating costs.

Credit Suisse Client Foundations

The umbrella foundations Accentus, Empiris and Symphasis in Switzerland and SymAsia in Singapore provide solutions for Credit Suisse clients who wish to use part of their wealth to benefit social causes. Founders have the option of establishing an individual subfoundation during their lifetime or after their death (by means of testamentary disposition) and can freely determine the name, purpose and mode of distribution. By being part of the grants committee, they are able to participate in the selection of supported charitable undertakings. All four foundations are politically and religiously unaffiliated. Since the creation of the client foundations Accentus, Empiris and Symphasis, more than 2,100 charitable projects have been supported, with over CHF 97 million distributed. In Singapore, SymAsia has gifted around USD 24 million since it was founded in 2010. As Credit Suisse assumes the foundations' administration and management costs, the great majority of the donations goes directly toward helping worthwhile causes.

  1. Donors do not have to set up their own foundation – or manage it – themselves.
  2. A subfoundation offers similar individual options to a foundation of one's own.
  3. Thanks to low costs, there are more funds available for serving the charitable purpose.
  4. Donations are (where permitted by applicable law) tax deductible.
  5. Long-term management of the fund and compliance with the donor's will are guaranteed.
  6. The umbrella foundations have many years of experience in searching for, selecting, and overseeing charitable projects.
  7. The Board of Trustees consists of prominent representatives from various fields of expertise.
  8. The donated funds are managed by reputable specialists.

The Accentus Foundation was set up in 2000. The charitable foundation promotes social, humanitarian, cultural, medical, environmental and other charitable causes. The following is a selection of its existing funds:

Lily Waeckerlin Fund

  • hands out an annual award for a high-quality music project in the field of "Youth and Music." The "Lily-Waeckerlin-Preis" (Lily Waeckerlin Prize) aims to motivate children and adolescents to not only approach music as consumers, but to become active themselves. It aims to teach the younger generation social values by having them prepare a piece of music together and through the shared joy and sense of achievement that this offers.


  • supports a number of charitable projects supporting the conservation and improvement of endangered habitats and helping the animals that live in them, as well as projects aimed at biodiversity conservation.

Swiss Chess (Schach Schweiz)

  • promotes chess in Switzerland as well as supporting related activities with a link to Switzerland in other countries. The support provided by the foundation extends to chess championships, coaching for young chess talents, chess exhibitions and public-relations activities around the sport.

The Empiris Foundation was established in 2002 with the aim of supporting projects in research, science and education. The following is a selection of its existing funds:

Brain Diseases

  • funds prizes awarded to Ph.D. students in recognition of particularly outstanding contributions to basic research related to brain disorders.

Martin Stoffel

  • supports clinical research projects in the area of cancer and stem cells.

Judith Linggi

  • supports projects that identify leukemia therapy tailored to children.


  • supports projects researching the causes of Alzheimer’s or dealing with therapeutic aspects of the disease.

The Symphasis Foundation, founded in 2002, supports and finances charities committed to social, humanitarian or environmental causes, culture, health and sports. The following is a selection of its existing funds:

Protection des forêts tropicales

  • finances projects that help sustain the last original tropical forests in Madagascar, Borneo and the Amazon region and which help the local population of these areas in establishing a livelihood.

Dietrich Peter Schindler

  • supports projects that aim to enable elderly people to lead a more autonomous life and that contribute to the dialogue between different generations.


  • contributes to the education of disadvantaged children from Rio de Janeiro's poorest neighborhoods.
  • finances the construction of hospitals with maternity wards in Eritrea, providing a safe place for women to give birth to their children.

SymAsia Foundation Ltd was established in 2010 as a company limited by guarantee with Credit Suisse as the sole subscriber. Via the SymAsia platform, donors may set up their own foundations and direct giving to charitable causes/organizations worldwide. SymAsia will disburse funds as directed. SymaAsia is managed by a professional Credit Suisse team and governed by an independent Board of Directors. SymAsia has partnered with donors to support and promote their charitable causes. Two examples are described in more detail below. 

Engagement With Client's Core Business: Luxasia Foundation

The Empowerment of Women Initiative was a Singapore-based project developed with SymAsia's philanthropy advisors to provide women in need of rehabilitation and support vocational skills training, enabling them to build professional competencies as a means for gainful employment. The program resonates with Luxasia Foundation's core business and client constituency. 

Leveling the Education Playing Field: Chow Kwai Yoong Foundation

A donor who is passionate about providing equal opportunities to disadvantaged children worked with SymAsia's philanthropy advisors to develop a tutoring program aimed at leveling the educational playing field for children who come from needy families with poor grades in school. Aside from having students benefit from the learning support they receive, the program also seeks to employ tutors who themselves require additional income to support themselves financially.

Impact Investment

The aim of Impact investment is to achieve a positive social and/or environmental impact in addition to a financial return.

  • Microfinance: Support for people at the base of the income pyramid by providing them with access to financial services. We have been a leader in microfinance since 2002, with over USD 2.8 billion of assets under administration that are used to fund microfinance institutions. Through the Credit Suisse Foundation, we support microfinance institutions by developing their ability to provide their clients with more diverse products and services to meet their specific needs. For further information, see below.
  • Higher Education: Support for high-potential students with no access to funding. We provide them with access to tertiary education through investment products such as our Higher Education Notes, thus offering better employment prospects and opportunities to earn a higher income. Our Higher Education Note 2, launched in 2015, is expected to enable more than 1,000 talented students from underprivileged backgrounds to access higher education
  • Conservation Finance: Creation of new, long-term and diversified sources of revenue that can play a major role in ensuring biodiversity conservation and the health of natural ecosystems, for example through our Nature Conservation Notes. For further information, see below.
  • Sustainable agriculture and fair trade: We promote responsible production methods by supporting smallholder farmers in achieving better trading conditions and by guaranteeing a minimum price for their produce.
  • Social enterprises: Financial support for small and medium-sized businesses that pursue social objectives, for example through the Asia Impact Investment Fund.

Microfinance started as a very simple concept: to provide working capital loans as small as USD 100 or less to the poor – who have little or no collateral – in groups, so that members guarantee repayments. Over time, the services have expanded from these group loans to individual lending, and from loans to insurance, savings and fund transfers. Microfinance offers interested clients an investment opportunity that generates both a social and a financial return. 

In the area of microfinance, investments are designed to provide economically disadvantaged people – especially those in emerging markets and developing countries – with access to financial services in the form of small loans, insurance and other financial products, thus helping them to build small businesses and establish a basic livelihood. Our activities in this area benefited over 3 million people in 2015.

We provide a range of advisory services and capital market transactions, and we offer several global microfinance funds, three local currency microfinance notes and a private equity fund of funds. We are also a member of the European Microfinance Platform, a network of about 120 organizations, and we collaborate with the Global Impact Investment Network on a number of projects, including in microfinance.

Through our microfinance-related activities, we aim to promote financial inclusion among the estimated two-thirds of the global population who are still unable to access basic financial services. Information on our Microfinance Capacity Building Initiative (MCBI) as well as the Credit Suisse Global Citizens Program can be found here.

Market-based financing mechanisms from the private finance sector have great potential where the conservation of nature is concerned. We have strengthened our activities in the area of conservation finance, which allows for both the long-term protection of natural value and a financial return for investors.

About Conservation Finance

Conservation finance refers to capital that is invested in an ecosystem in order to generate one or several cash flows. This structure permits the underlying natural capital to be protected in the long term while at the same time providing the investor with a financial return. Market-based mechanisms applied to date have primarily been based on strategies directly associated with an ecosystem – e.g., compensation payments – or on indirect approaches, such as the certification of sustainably produced goods from a particular ecosystem. Our research suggests that wealthy individuals, institutional investors and even mainstream retail investors could supply as much as USD 200-300 billion of investment capital per year needed to preserve the world's most important ecosystems.

Our Role in Conservation Finance

In early 2014, Credit Suisse published a pioneering study on conservation finance, co-authored with WWF and McKinsey that looked at innovative private sector financing structures in conservation and the barriers and enablers to scaling up such approaches. The issue of conservation finance and the related study were also among the topics discussed at a panel discussion entitled "How Can Private Capital Create Sustainable Impact?" , which Credit Suisse hosted during the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos in January 2014. To further sectoral discussions, we also co-organized an expert workshop hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in 2014 with the world's leading conservation finance specialists. A summary of these discussions can be found here. In January 2015, we hosted and co-organized the first global conservation finance investor conference at our offices in New York. In January 2016, we released a report entitled “Conservation Finance – From Niche to Mainstream” in conjunction with the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment, focusing on paradigm shifts that could initiate the next period of growth in this field. The report was released at our second global conservation finance investor conference in New York.

Building on our proprietary research in the field of conservation finance, Credit Suisse launched the Nature Conservation Notes in December 2014. This innovative product in the environmental impact investing space consists of investments in sustainable agroforestry and ecosystem conservation, as well as in a portfolio of sustainable bonds. The Notes make it possible to support conservation activities in around 10-15 countries and economic development of local communities through the revenues generated by projects financed by the Althelia Climate Fund, a Luxembourg-based impact fund. Financial returns are generated for the fund’s investors through the sale of sustainably certified commodities as well as from payments for ecosystem services. Social and environmental impacts are generated through the financing of community-based organizations, biodiversity and water conservation, as well as climate change mitigation. Credit Suisse's Nature Conservation Notes were named "2015 Forestry Deal of the Year" by the news and analysis service Environmental Finance.

The field of conservation finance is at an inflection point where it will need to migrate beyond donor-driven financing to commercial, investor-driven vehicles. Comparatively few sustainable investment opportunities exist in this area today, even though resources such as water and forests have the potential to deliver regular "natural" income streams. However, our research has shown that there is demand for such financial products among both private and institutional investors. After all, such products can offer not only a double dividend – financial and environmental – but a financial investment in growth markets and portfolio diversification offering protection against anticipated macroeconomic development (e.g., the limitation of national resources) and regulatory changes (e.g., offsetting biodiversity requirements for industrial companies).

Credit Suisse is continuing its efforts to develop vehicles that meet the various risk/return expectations and investment profiles of the above-mentioned client segments. For that reason, we have partnered with leading private and public sector financial institutions and academia to launch in September 2016 a new Coalition for Private Investment in Conservation (CPIC).

Sustainable Investment

The main goal of sustainable investments is financial returns with portfolio solutions and single investments that meet sustainability/ESG (environmental, social and governance) criteria. Our sustainable investment offering comprises portfolio solutions as well as products across all asset classes, including equities, fixed income, real estate, alternative investments, index solutions and thematic investments. 

  • Sustainable portfolio solutions: The starting point in defining clients' sustainable investment strategy is their values, their risk/return profile, and their preferred asset classes. Together with the client, we assess the investment universe, taking into account the various sustainability approaches that can be used (such as the exclusion approach, the norm-based approach, the best-in-class approach and thematic investments). We conduct portfolio screening and select investment vehicles and products that meet the defined sustainability criteria to construct the sustainable portfolio.
  • We have also addressed the topic of sustainability through single sustainable investments and products, for example, the Credit Suisse Fund (Lux) Global Responsible Equities, the Credit Suisse (Lux) European Climate Value Property Fund, the Credit Suisse Real Estate Fund Green Property, and the Credit Suisse Fund (Lux) RobecoSAM Equities World Sustainability. For further information, see below.
  • Credit Suisse Real Estate Investment Management (REIM) regards sustainability as an essential requirement when managing and developing its real estate holdings. Its active sustainability strategy is designed to address challenges in a business increasingly impacted by volatile energy prices and stricter regulation. For further information, see below.
  • As a signatory to the PRI, we emphasize our commitment to acting in the best long-term interests of our clients by incorporating ESG criteria into our investment processes and decisions. In addition to financial data, investment managers also look at non-financial ESG information to gain a more complete picture of a company and its operations, thus reaching more informed investment decisions. In line with our commitment to PRI and ESG integration, Credit Suisse has also developed capabilities to screen the carbon intensity of equity investments.
  • Our Global Research team develops sustainable investment strategies based on the selection of stocks. For further information, see below.
  • CS Real Estate Fund Green Property
  • Credit Suisse Fund (Lux) Global Responsible Equities
  • Credit Suisse (CH) Sustainable International Bond Fund
  • Fineron Sustainable Emerging Markets Equity IsoPro®
  • Credit Suisse (Lux) European Climate Value Property Fund
  • Credit Suisse Fund (Lux) RobecoSAM Equities World Sustainability

In dynamic sectors such as renewable energy and energy efficiency, reliable information is crucial as a basis for decision making for investment decisions. As an economic indicator, the Renewable Energy Index Switzerland (REIS) provides sector information on sales, order backlog, delivery periods, inventories and employment in the sustainable energies market. It is published quarterly in cooperation with the AEE SUISSE Umbrella Organization for the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Industry. The indicator is based on a survey of companies in the sustainable energy solutions sector (renewable energies and energy efficiency). The REIS shows recent economic developments in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sector and serves as a leading indicator.

The data is collected and analyzed in accordance with the standards of the International Federation of Purchasing and Materials Management. The remit of AEE SUISSE is to conduct the survey, and Credit Suisse is responsible for analyzing and publishing the resulting data.

The concept of Renewable Energy Index Swiss (REIS) is based on the Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), a joint project of the association for Procurement and Supply Management and Credit Suisse. The PMI is an economic indicator of the development of business trends in the Swiss industrial sector. As with the PMI, REIS surveys managers of companies in the renewable energy and efficient energy solutions sector on a quarterly basis.

Credit Suisse Real Estate Investment Management (CS REIM) is one of the largest real estate investment manager holding more than CHF 42 billion of assets under management in a portfolio of around 1, 200 properties as of end-2015 across 20 countries. At CS REIM, sustainability is seen as an essential part for the management and development of real estate investments. Besides energy and resource efficiency themes the reduction of CO2-emissions is at the forefront of a real estate sustainability approach.

To systematically assess its sustainability performance, REIM has been a member of the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) since 2013. More than 700 real estate fund managers and real estate asset managers currently participate in GRESB, representing properties with a total value of over USD 2.3 trillion. In 2015, we once again participated in the GRESB ranking process with our 14 Swiss managed funds, 8 of which received a Green Star Award in recognition of their leading sustainability performance.

REIM also aims to enhance the energy efficiency of around 1,000 buildings in Switzerland and to reduce CO2 emissions by 10%. To implement a comprehensive sustainability approach, REIM created "greenproperty", a quality seal based on a comprehensive assessment of sustainability criteria. By the end of 2015, greenproperty had been applied to around 900,000 square meters of floor space (including pending certifications). In addition, REIM’s Swiss portfolio includes approximately 1 million square meters certified with the Swiss property label Minergie.

We conduct sustainability-related research across our divisions and continued to do so in 2015. For example, Investment Strategy & Research in the International Wealth Management division published an update to its research into global megatrends, with sustainability featuring as one of three key trends alongside demographics and the transition to a multipolar world. Our new weekly publication "What's New in ESG?" highlights ESG-related research by Credit Suisse analysts as well as discussing key ESG events and topics.

The Credit Suisse Research Institute is our thought leadership platform and conducts studies on a variety of topics that are made available both to clients and the general public. In 2015, it assessed different scenarios for the economic, political and social world order in its publication "The End of Globalization or a More Multipolar World?", and the sixth edition of the "Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report" presented data on the global distribution of wealth.

In the area of investment research, we also publish global economic assessments and market outlooks in a range of regular reports. Our publication “Global Investor” features studies about current issues and long-term trends, such as the sharing economy. Further research publications in 2015 included studies looking at investment ideas relating to El Niño events, as well as a study on investing in healthy living practices.

Credit Suisse also addresses ESG topics through thematic indices. Credit Suisse HOLT, a corporate performance and valuation framework, has expanded its offering to include a governance database that systematically scores incentive plans based on their alignment with wealth-creating principles. Investors gain insights into a firm’s strategy, changes to that strategy and the quality of its Board. With HOLT’s proprietary return on capital metric, investors can independently assess management skills, wealth creation and governance risks. We also publish the Renewable Energy Index Switzerland (REIS) on a quarterly basis in conjunction with AAE SUISSE. The REIS serves as an economic indicator for the sustainable energy solutions sector.