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Few periods in recent history have tested the values of our society and its institutions more directly than 2020, a year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic’s disruptions to our daily lives, impassioned calls for social justice, and contentious political events. In this challenging environment, I am proud to say, the MarketAxess community held fast to its core values. We can look back on 2020 as a year in which we deepened our commitment to our company’s purpose, to the importance of respecting one another, and to addressing the needs of our communities.
It’s clear we made significant advances in realizing our purpose: To open global markets and create more opportunities for the companies, individuals and institutions who depend on them. These advances continued—even gathered momentum—in the unsettled conditions of 2020.
The importance of our purpose was driven home during the onset of the pandemic and a global recession in early 2020. Our clients—the people who make global markets work hour-by-hour, day-to-day—were struggling to deal with high levels of market volatility as they worked remotely without their usual office and communications support. MarketAxess teams around the globe rose to the challenge, working tirelessly in those stressful days to make sure that more than 10,000 of our users had the electronic access and support they needed to keep doing their essential jobs from their homes.
In addressing these challenges in close collaboration with our clients, MarketAxess and its technology proved to be a critical factor in sustaining global capital flows and helping markets continue to function smoothly. As a result, clients came to rely on our global network in even greater numbers than before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our dedication to our purpose has never been more important than it is now. With the pandemic’s impact still weighing on the world economy, it is critically important that financial institutions, companies and investors of all stripes have efficient access to global markets in ways that help them navigate through volatile periods and achieve their financial objectives. Going forward, the fixed income markets will continue to play an important role in restoring the global economy to robust growth, which in turn creates the jobs and income needed to improve the quality of life and renew our communities.
In this, our second annual report on our ESG journey, we provide a detailed update on our company’s progress. This report highlights new initiatives we undertook in 2020 and additional perspectives on our progress. We are pleased to have made strides in important areas, but, as with most companies and institutions, we recognize that we have much more work to do in critical areas.
Our focus remains on the four pillars for our vision of corporate citizenship:
- An enduring commitment to high standards of governance. We believe the touchstones of responsible leadership are integrity and fairness. In 2020, we continued to strengthen our board of directors with new members who value the interests of all our stakeholders—clients, employees, investors and business partners. We benefit greatly from having board members who bring proven leadership to our ESG efforts.
- Helping communities become more resilient. We expanded our support in 2020 to organizations that are on the frontline of addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the immediate challenge of food insecurity. To address community resilience over the long term, we established the MarketAxess Charitable Foundation, whose mission is to work with organizations that support underserved communities, with an emphasis on youth education, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- Building a strong, diverse workforce. We believe a strong culture built on accountability and mutual respect has been a significant factor in our success, and will continue to be even more so in the future. This year’s report details the initiatives we’ve taken to sustain our culture and ensure its continued vitality as we grow. Diversity, equity, and inclusion must remain a priority if we are to continue to be prosperous over the long term, and our management team is working hard to strengthen this important part of our ESG program.
- Adopting sound sustainability practices across our business operations. We are in the process of improving our ability to measure our company’s impact in areas such as climate, waste, and water use. As an initial part of that effort, we are reporting for 2020 against metrics outlined by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) for the first time for the following sectors: Security & Commodity Exchanges, Professional & Commercial Services, and Software & IT Services.
On the environment, it’s worth noting that MarketAxess already plays an important role in addressing the growing investor interest in bonds financing climate-friendly projects. With an estimated 20.3% US market share of trading in corporate and municipal green bonds in 2020, MarketAxess ranks as the largest corporate and municipal green bond marketplace, with 2020 trading volume up 42% in this category alone. We believe our role in the secondary market for these issues is poised to grow, given forecasts that global green bond issuance will reach $400-$500 billion this year, up from about $270 billion in 2019.
Looking ahead to the remainder of 2021, I want to thank all our employees for their continued, active engagement in our ESG journey. In doing so, they are building a stronger, more dynamic company for everyone at MarketAxess, for our clients, and for our shareholders— one that can be a positive force in global markets as well as in our communities.
Chairman and CEO
How MarketAxess defines sustainability
Sustainability is a business’ ongoing commitment to advance economic prosperity while appreciating and improving the world in which it operates.
MarketAxess recognizes its responsibility as a global corporate citizen to positively impact our employees, customers, environment and communities through demonstrating our commitment to sustainability.
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