Institute welcomes UK regulator’s emphasis on education and training issues around ESG

The Chartered Banker Institute (the Institute) is delighted to see education and training issues moving up the regulatory agenda in the UK, as highlighted in a new FCA Discussion Paper (DP23/1), aimed at enabling finance to deliver on its potential to drive positive sustainable change.

Addressing training and competence in firms, the FCA recognises the need for genuine capability-building across the financial sector, including staff training on climate change and net zero and sustainability more broadly, identifying the PRB Academy as a good example of a UK and global initiative in this area. The Academy aims to support banks’ alignment with the objectives of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement and was founded through a partnership between the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), The Chartered Banker Institute, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

We believe there is a clear link between purpose, culture and education in firms and the just transition (moving to a more sustainable economy that is fair to everyone), so ensuring that finance professionals have the knowledge and skills required to support decision-making and understand the financial and sustainability outcomes these lead to is essential. As is building firms’ capacities, capabilities and cultures to support the fast-growing and constantly evolving ESG sector.

The DP also includes a collection of 10 commissioned articles from experts with relevant and interesting perspectives on firms’ sustainability-related governance, incentives, competence and stewardship arrangements. Writing about competence, Simon Thompson, the Institute’s CEO and Chair of the Green Finance Education Charter (composed of 14 leading professional bodies representing nearly 1 million finance professionals), explains that Green Finance Education Charter signatories have all incorporated ESG into professional and CPD programmes and stresses the importance of avoiding inadvertent greenwashing by firms by not allowing them to self-certify their ESG training and competence.

Simon Thompson, Chief Executive of the Chartered Banker Institute commented: “I am very encouraged to see two key initiatives that the Institute is playing a key role in, the PRB Academy and the Green Finance Education Charter is highlighted by the FCA in their latest Discussion Paper.

In my article, I feature the growing problem of competence greenwashing, which is as serious a threat to the integrity and future growth of ESG as greenwashing itself. I believe there is an opportunity to address this through regulatory levers both in the UK and internationally, however, by ensuring that firms are no longer allowed to ‘mark their own homework’ by certifying the ESG competence of their staff themselves. Collectively the UK’s professional bodies have the appetite, expertise, and resources to support this endeavour and I encourage all our members and their employers to read and engage with the DP.”