Training, a key factor in sustainable transition

In Geneva, the financial center represents an essential sector of activity as it generates more than 35,000 jobs and contributes up to 13% of the canton’s gross domestic product (GDP). However, one of the keys to the success of this industry lies in its ability to surround itself with the best talent. This means not only being able to attract them, but also continuing to train them to maintain their level of expertise.

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According to the Federal Statistics Office, at the end of 2020, 43% of employees in the banking sector had a university degree, while this figure increased to 28% for other economic sectors. These same statistics also reveal that 23% of the staff had entered the banking sector after an apprenticeship. This shows that there is not only one door to access the financial professions. This diversity must also be reflected in the training offer.

Geneva: a unique ecosystem

According to the “Barometer of opportunities and concerns” published by the Bank Employers, employees pay particular attention to the increased specialization of banking professions, regulatory density and employability.

Among the sought-after specializations, sustainable finance is a prominent figure. This subject is now an integral part of investment strategies, as shown by the statistics published by Swiss Sustainable Finance (SSF) in June 2022. The volume of sustainable investments in Switzerland increased by 30% between 2020 and 2021 for reaching more than 1,980 billion. francs.

In this field, Geneva occupies an exceptional position thanks to the presence of all the actors capable of accelerating this green transition: financial institutions, asset managers, international organizations, NGOs, an advanced academic sector, major private foundations and committed politicians. authority

An ever-changing range of training

Training plays a decisive role in the realization of an offensive strategy regarding sustainable investments. The establishments in Geneva have certainly developed a leading know-how in this domain, which has allowed them to offer attractive products that meet the criteria of sustainability. In any case, to accelerate this movement, it is essential to integrate sustainable finance at all levels of training, from apprenticeship to university studies, including continuing education.

One thing is immediately evident to the actors of the financial sector in general: employees show a marked interest in sustainable strategies and want to acquire the necessary knowledge to understand this field, which promises to be complex, to be able to respond to customer expectations.

Geneva already benefits today from a remarkable offer. The Haute Ecole de Gestion (HEG), in partnership with SSF, as well as the Institut Supérieur de Formation Bancaire (ISFB) offer continuous training leading to certification in sustainable finance.

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In the field of wealth management, the SAQ CWMA certification, which was implemented in 2017 and represents the benchmark in the sector, will strengthen the requirements in terms of sustainability from 2022. In this way, the 16,000 SAQ CWMA certified consultants in Switzerland will also increase their level of knowledge.

In connection with apprenticeship, a major reform will come into force in the summer of 2023. The new basic business training will better integrate the key subject of sustainable development. On the one hand, sustainable financial products will be widely covered and, on the other hand, sustainable development will be the core of teaching in the field of advisory skills.

Academic training is not immune to the green wave. In Geneva, the university is committed to this movement with several Certificates of Advanced Studies (CAS) and masters dedicated to sustainable finance. Finally, the Graduate Institute also aims to train specialists in sustainable finance through the Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) SDG Investing, as well as the launch in autumn 2022 of a master’s degree in sustainable finance.

Self-regulation: a new step has been taken

The financial center is not left behind in this broad movement.

On June 28, 2022, the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) published a self-regulation that will come for its members. The latter issued the following minimum requirements: Guidelines on ESG preferences and ESG risks in investment advice and wealth management, as well as Guidelines for mortgage providers to improve the energy efficiency of the buildings.

These two texts represent an important step towards the integration of sustainable development in the advice of clients. They include specific training requirements, which require a considerable commitment from banking institutions. For investment advice, employees must have the necessary knowledge of sustainable development, ESG investment solutions and the applicable ESG approach. In connection with real estate, mortgage specialists need training on how to preserve the value of buildings in the long term and improve the energy efficiency of buildings.

This overview shows that no road should be neglected to meet the challenge of the sustainable transition. Implementing investment strategies for the benefit of not only clients, but also society as a whole requires training. The latter remains a central tool. On the one hand, it responds to a strong social ambition: it allows each employee to evolve and gives meaning to all the functions he will have to perform throughout his career. On the other hand, it constitutes a powerful engine of change, which allows us to move from words to deeds.

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