© Reuters. A hand-transmitted image shows Laura Garcia Velez taken in the Tigray region of Ethiopia in 2017
By Iain Withers, Carolyn Cohn and Simon Jessop
LONDON (Reuters) – Environmental scientist Laura Garcia Velez undertook projects to help Ethiopian farmers secure crops due to drought and connect remote Colombian communities to the grid before working for operators conservation action WWF.
Now, she is Lombard Odier analyst, responsible for improving the green credentials of the $ 350 billion Swiss bank.
“Recruiting finance is really important in” greening polluting industries, “said Velez, one of a growing number of campaigners and scientists turning to banking.
Positivism and finances appear to be an unchanging pairing of two mortal foes.
However, banks, asset managers and private equity firms, facing tough regulations to eliminate portfolios and loan books, are vying to win over those with Matching green expertise, according to Reuters employment data and interviews with financial firms, employers and universities.
James Close head of climate change at NatWest, James Close, former director of climate change at the World Bank, said: “Working in a sustainable direction, it feels like you’re trying. try to break down the walls.
“Now they’re pulling us from the street through the front door.”
For their part, many environmentalists argue that the only way to save the planet is to force big businesses to radically reduce their carbon footprint, and they see the financial world funding them as one of the levers. the best.
However, some charities and campaigners argue that “green washing” is rampant in the financial industry. Many new hires, they say, are used as a marketing tool and often lack the power to drive real change.
DOUBLE PAYMENT PACKAGE
However, the green fever is happening.
According to global financial recruitment expert eFinancialCareers, the number of job ads for “sustainable” roles nearly doubled to more than 1,000 in the year to February, compared with 12 months earlier. Positions range from junior analyst to new director-level roles as head of climate change or sustainability. PICTURE: https://tmsnrt.rs/2PAFaLH
Green recruiting specialist Acre says the number of hiring in its finance sector has grown by more than a quarter year-over-year since 2017. Top-level positions now offer salary packages of more than 750,000. pound ($ 1 million), tripled the period.
LinkedIn (NYSE 🙂 data shared with Reuters shows a steady increase in the number of financial jobs listed as requiring at least one “green skill”, such as preventing pollution or ecosystem management, especially in the United States. PICTURE: https://tmsnrt.rs/2OtubTF
“There’s a race to find talent right now, there is no doubt,” said Elree Winnett Seelig, Citi Global Head of ESG Markets, Elree Winnett Seelig, Citi Global Head of Markets. Citi for markets, added that the demand is particularly strong for fixed income.
Jon Williams (NYSE :), a climate change and sustainability partner at PwC UK, says private banks, asset managers and equity firms have strengthened their staff in last year, pushing wages up to 30-50%.
One of his groups recently doubled in salary by switching to an asset management firm, he added.
Environmental advocacy group employees moving to a bank can often at least double their salary package once bonuses have been included, the recruiters said. (Graphics: Financial companies increase search for green employees, https://graphics.reuters.com/CLIMATE-CHANGE/azgvoxwarpd/chart.png)
‘A DIFFERENT DREAM’
Top universities with specialist centers that combine climate science and finance say they have seen companies beat the door to recruiting graduates.
Charles Donovan, executive director of the Center for Climate Finance and Investment at Imperial College London, which is run by the climate science center, Grantham Institute, said there has been an “unbelievable increase.” ”For our students from employers in the financial sector over the past 18 years. month.
Banks like HSBC and Standard Chartered (OTC 🙂 are looking for potential employees through climate research partnerships, while some companies are offering scholarships, “he added.
While the London financial district may be pulling some talented people out of government and advocacy roles, Donovan doesn’t care, saying many people targeting the financial sector are “another batch of students”. who recognize the value of expertise in fields like climate change to make a difference from other graduates looking for work in finance. (Image: The ‘green’ skill is developing across most industries, https://graphics.reuters.com/CLIMATE-CHANGE/FINANCE-TALENT/rlgpdzmkxpo/chart.png)
Some older environmental experts who have turned to finance say that rewards aren’t just financial.
Rob Bailey, the climate resilience director at the research unit of the consulting firm Marsh & McLennan, previously worked for Oxfam and the international affairs consultancy Chatham House.
“I can develop knowledge in a different way, and working with different stakeholders will be invigorating,” he said.
Some professionals are also attracted by the difficult and often technical nature of the job.
For example, quantitative analyst Velez, who moved to Lombard Odier last year, is building a tool that links assets with geospatial and environmental data that tracks risk and pollution from hurricanes. in real time.
Meanwhile, Swiss bank UBS has staffed the Evidence Laboratory’s analysis team with experience in a variety of fields including geotechnical engineering and hydraulic modeling in recent years.
Barry Hurewitz, global head of UBS Evidence Lab Innovations, said: “We had to adopt new recruiting strategies and methods to find people with these skills but unable to find jobs in the field. financial services sector.
The finance companies told Reuters they are expanding the science and sustainability groups.
Asset Management Schroders (LON 🙂 says they have more than 10 scientifically qualified employees in their insurance-affiliated securities group, including those with a PhD in climatology. Its sustainability investment team grew 4 people to 22 last year and is planning to expand further.
Britain’s largest domestic bank Lloyds (LON 🙂 has more than doubled the number of employees with a core sustainability role in one year, to more than 40, while Zurich Insurance said it has expanded its team. study wind, flood, network and climate risk models. , to seven from one in five years.
‘PART OF THE MACHINE’
The demand for green expertise is partly driven by climate regulation tightening on financial services firms in the UK, Europe and beyond.
For example, Eurozone banks will have to take climate change into account when lending or investing. Funds in the EU will have to reveal how sustainable their products are, while lenders in the UK may face stricter capital requirements on stored pollutant assets. keep on their books.
However, while the companies say they are making progress, some charities say they are still catching up.
Charlie Kronick, senior climate advisor at Greenpeace UK, said: “In my experience, finance companies don’t have extensive knowledge. Their skill sets are leaning in the past.” .
According to the charities, the better hiring must be in line with strategic changes at the top level. While many major financial services firms have pledged to cut their loans and portfolios in the coming years, most firms are still exposed to fossil fuels in some way, they say.
Ben Cushing, campaign manager for financial advocacy at the Sierra Club Environmental Group is based in the United States.
And not everyone with an environmental background finds high financial possibilities.
While most have no regrets, some are disillusioned, says Ian Povey-Hall, director of green recruitment company Acre.
“ESG being more of a commercial focus changed everything for some people who said their work became efficient when it became part of the machine,” he said.
Lombard Odier’s Velez said she was pleased with her decision and pleased that she was not part of the tree washing problem.
“We’re doing a lot of research on how companies will reduce their emissions,” she added. “Of course I want these changes to happen faster – I’m a little more realistic than optimistic.”
($ 1 = £ 0.7279)