Competitive Intelligence Case Study

Client: One of the big four UK banking groups

The Problem

Our client, the Group CEO, wanted the bank to become recognised as a leader in responsible business. So he was keen to understand how ESG and related functions were structured across both direct competitors and a handful of out-of-sector organisations with strong reputations in sustainability. Specifically, he required insight on headcount, reporting lines, budget, remuneration, influence, culture, major projects and stakeholder engagement.

The Solution

This project played perfectly to our trademark methodology – primary research.

We began by identifying all the relevant senior leaders at the target companies. This included Chief Sustainability Officers, Heads of Sustainable Investment, Heads of ESG Research, D&I leads and Chief Risk Officers whose remit included environmental risk.

Then we picked up the phone and spoke to them.

Over dozens of conversations, we established the salient features of each target company’s ESG/sustainability operations. We also found out about any recent restructures, understanding where companies had failed or succeeded and gaining insight into their future plans.


  • We provided our client with a 96-page report.
  • The opening 20 pages presented our key findings and identified the recurring features of the most successful structures; we made detailed recommendations on how our client might readjust its current setup and suggested a number of transformative initiatives.
  • The remainder of the report presented detailed findings on each of the target companies, thus supporting our recommendations and providing valuable proprietary intelligence about key competitors.


  • Acting on our report, the bank has reorganised and repositioned its sustainability team so that it faces off effectively to all key stakeholders: clients, investors, regulators and employees.
  • The bank has also made additional hires and undertaken a targeted employee engagement programme.
  • The sustainability budget has increased in support of a number of our recommendations.

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