For Matthew Slovik, planning a family trip through the Green Mountains has special meaning. It’s his first opportunity to introduce a place that he loved as a child to his own children—and to show them not only the beauty of this part of New England but the importance of preserving it for the next generation. “I share the power of spending time in nature with my kids, hoping that they will be able to enjoy it like I did, from season to season, for their entire lives,” says Slovik. That desire to protect and preserve the earth’s natural resources also informs his work at Morgan Stanley, where he currently serves as Head of Global Sustainable Finance (GSF).
Slovik joined the firm in 2004 as an Analyst in the Investment Banking Division with a degree in public policy and worked on renewable energy deals, which opened his eyes to the impact that finance and investment can have in supporting sustainable outcomes. In 2009, Morgan Stanley launched what is now known as the Global Sustainability Office (GSO), and Slovik jumped at the chance to join its Global Sustainable Finance team, allowing him to bridge his work in finance and his personal values. As he explains, “Seeing a firm with the scale and expertise of Morgan Stanley take on sustainability was huge for me. I knew that if we got it right, we could deliver impacts for the firm, our clients and the planet.”
Today, he heads the GSF Group, which partners with three businesses—Institutional Securities, Wealth Management and Morgan Stanley Investment Management (MSIM)— to deliver sustainable solutions to a wide range of clients. For Slovik, this continues to be a personal as well as a professional commitment. “I’m supporting our businesses every day,” he says, “but I’m also working to support a better, greener world for my kids and future generations.
What’s been your career path at Morgan Stanley?
Since joining the firm 18 years ago, I’ve been lucky enough to have had quite a varied career. I worked in Global Capital Markets, in firm management for one of our co-presidents during the 2008 financial crisis and on the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney integration effort. Before taking on my current role, I also had the privilege of helping build our private equity impact program across asset management.
It’s unusual for people to have the same email address their entire career, but there have been a couple of through-lines for me. First, Morgan Stanley has been great at providing mentorship and mobility at every step along the way. I’ve been able to seize the opportunity to build new skills and gain experience and perspectives. Second, Morgan Stanley’s early focus on sustainability really connected with my interest in impact stirred in my public policy studies, and there continue to be new and exciting opportunities here that fuel that passion.
How have Morgan Stanley’s sustainability efforts evolved since those early days?
We took the first comprehensive approach to sustainability on Wall Street. The view from the very beginning was that sustainability is a horizontal. It could create opportunities across our client segments globally and our various business units. We integrated environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into what we do and how we do it, with the ultimate goal of differentiating the firm, improving our client service and operating more sustainably.
We’ve had many achievements along the way, including our $65Bn+ Investing With Impact platform, as well as leading market share across banking and capital markets as it relates to sustainability. We also launched Morgan Stanley’s Institute for Sustainable Investing in 2013, spearheaded by our chairman and CEO, James Gorman, and we appointed the first Chief Sustainability Officer on Wall Street in 2017.
How have clients’ attitudes and approaches to sustainability evolved?
The excitement and engagement with clients, from individuals to corporates, governments, institutional investors and asset managers, continue to increase exponentially as sustainability goes mainstream. Products, services and solutions that touch on sustainability, like ESG-related data analytics and quantitative finance capabilities, are incredibly more advanced and widespread than they were initially.
Because of our work in this area, Morgan Stanley, as an integrated bank, can deliver solutions for our clients from different perspectives and for different needs. We can engage with a corporate client on issuing green bonds and a hedge fund that wants to understand climate risk and how it may be able to access opportunities within its risk-return asset allocation parameters. We can also engage with individual investors using our Investing With Impact platform and our Morgan Stanley Impact Quotient™, a tool that helps them better align their investments with their values and their ESG goals.
What lies ahead for sustainable finance?
I think we’re in the early stages of the data age of ESG, and we’re excited to explore what we can do by putting geospatial data, analytics and machine learning to work for sustainability.
Longer-term, I see continued prioritization of ESG factors into decision-making. Clients want to make better decisions. They also want to understand how their capital can more effectively create change and help address some of the world’s most pressing challenges, like climate change and inequality. And that interest has become more widespread in every region. Morgan Stanley’s Global Sustainability Office now has a dedicated team in London and Tokyo to help meet client demand and work with our partners on the ground.
What do you see as the strengths of Morgan Stanley as a firm?
We talk about our people being our biggest asset, and it’s true. It has been a defining characteristic for me, whether it’s the mentorship I’ve received or the intellectual curiosity I see in my colleagues. People work together to deliver for the firm and to think creatively about solutions.
I also see Morgan Stanley as a meritocracy. You can combine personal mission and professional experience at a firm that takes it seriously, allowing you to do innovative thinking and to be rewarded for that. That underlines the firm’s whole culture.