Aegon Asset Management and HSBC are among the firms with the most employees that have been awarded environmental, social and governance investing certificates by the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute.
The ESG Investing certificate, which teaches portfolio managers, analysts and sales teams how to integrate ESG considerations into their products, policies and client conversations, has seen more than 11,500 global registrations since its creation two years ago, according to the CFA.
Most candidates have come from the UK, where the certificate was first offered. But the award has also seen significant uptake by US, Switzerland, France, Hong Kong and Singapore-based employees.
As well as HSBC’s wealth and personal banking arm, and Aegon’s asset management business, another workforce to take up the bulk of these certificates was AXA Investment Managers.
The CFA said investment managers can now make bulk registrations on behalf of their employees to secure the certificate, which the industry body said is helping firms navigate a client shift in demands to sustainable investments.
“Against a backdrop of increasing client demand for ESG expertise, it is imperative for investment professionals to understand this subject matter,” said Peg Jobst, managing director of credentialing at the CFA Institute.
“As we approach COP26, [the] CFA Institute sees a clear role that the financial sector can play in integrating environmental, social and governance factors into investment portfolios.
“The industry requires more well-equipped financial professionals to respond to the challenges facing society.”
The industry body added the provision of clear and comparable data from both corporates and fund managers was needed, along with better skill sets to understand and evaluate this data.
Jan-Marc Fergg, HSBC Global Private Banking and Wealth’s head of wealth products, ESG and mutual funds, said the “broad-based curriculum” of the CFA Institute’s ESG Investing certificate provided “a solid foundation” in understanding ESG concepts, “while also instilling an ability to sift through disclosures quickly and effectively”.
The rising interest in ESG investing has also prompted advisers to adapt their advice for clients.
Aegon’s 2021 Adviser attitudes report found 41 per cent of advisers saw an increase in ESG requests from their clients throughout 2020.
There is also a variation in the speed of ESG take-up amongst advice firms. Research from NextWealth earlier this month showed clients of larger firms were more likely to raise the topic of ESG but smaller firms were more likely to have clients actually invest in ESG products.
Meanwhile the government and Financial Conduct Authority are exploring sustainability-related rules for financial advice.