About The Project


The Finance Project aims to clarify, via analysis and aggregation of publicly available information, the detailed links between the finance sector (banking, investment management, insurance) and private and public companies operating in our global economy.

Finance has a pivotal impact on the development of societies globally and the sector is central to many key theories of change employed by the likes of sustainable finance and the divest-invest climate movement. It is important that these, as well as society as a whole, have objective and easily accessible data on which parts of finance are invested in or doing business with which companies. We recognise the finance sector has a range of relationships with manufacturing and industrial sectors linked to high greenhouse gas emissions:

  • Asset owners (pension funds, insurance companies) maintain beneficial share and bond holdings;
  • Investment advisers (asset managers, consultants) hold shares/bonds on behalf of asset owners and provide investment advice;
  • Banks provide lending and financial advisory services;
  • Insurance companies provide underwriting services.

Some large integrated financial companies like Citigroup, HSBC, Alliance and JP Morgan may engage in some or even all of the above activities.

The extent to which listed companies hold carbon-intensive assets as key components making up the company's valuation is an issue which the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure recommends be clarified by all companies, including in the finance sector. The Finance Project will go some way to tracking climate-risk assets as held by listed asset managers and corporations.

The Ownership of Financial Assets

The effective or beneficial owners of all of society's financial assets must be individuals, as opposed to legal entities who may be the registered owners. In the middle lie a variety of operating companies, financial intermediaries and public sector institutions. The nature of the chain will vary with geography and changes with time. This is represented for the fossil fuel economy in the following infographic:

Comments on the Data

Our database contains details of over 100,000 owners of shares we categorise into various Types. These are cross referenced against ownership in publicly listed companies going back to 2010. There is therefore a huge number of data points gathered from many databases. We only reply on original source data (either from the owner, the company or a regulator) and make all efforts to keep our database current via regular updates. Requirements for disclosure of shareholdings varies by region and by type of shareholder. For listed funds and investment service providers in the US with more than $100m AUM, certain disclosures are required by the SEC (e.g. the 13-F requirements while other types of shareholders such as foundations and individuals are not subject to rigorous disclosure. Hence our data on the shareholders of a particular company does not necessary capture the owners of all the outstanding shares. We welcome corrections and comments from all users and interested parties.

A Focus on Coal

Our initial launch involves analysis of registered shareholders of the 150 largest listed coal companies. We measure this by a combination of market value, annual production of thermal coal and declared reserves of thermal coal. The latter two metrics are of the most interest to the sustainable finance and divest-invest communities as they represent current and future greenhouse gas emissions originating from these companies. We recognise that there remain many privately held coal production companies and are also tracking these. An analysis of which owners (funds or investors) own which coal companies with the ownership expressed in US$, coal production and coal reserves is on our homepage, with full details of the metrics we use embedded within.

A list of the coal companies we incorporate in this project can be found here.