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ESSEC’s Master in Finance looks to help graduates unlock the opportunities created by growing demand for ESG talent

Demand for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investment professionals is soaring in Singapore as the city state positions itself as a green finance centre.

The rise is being driven by four key factors, namely increased awareness of ESG risks and opportunities among companies and investors, regulatory change, client demand, and societal pressure, according to Stefan Ullrich, Senior Vice President FIC Derivatives, Repo & ESG Sales at Eurex.

He adds that with the world facing a series of interconnected challenges, such as climate change, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, pollution and inequality, the financial services sector has to change the way it operates to redirect investments to areas that help to solve these issues.

“Given that these crises are intensifying, it is all but certain that the demand for investment professionals with a strong knowledge of ESG will continue to grow in the coming years,” Ullrich says.

Navigating the ESG landscape

To help meet this growing demand for investment professionals with a sound ESG knowledge, ESSEC Asia-Pacific’s Master in Finance (MiF) programme offers an elective course that specifically focuses on ESG investing.

Peng Xu, Associate Academic Director of the MIF programme, explains: “In Singapore, it was first introduced in 2019, when it became clear that the financial sector will have a major role to play in the transitions ahead of us. This course starts with a look at major developments that have led to the rise of sustainable finance, before taking students through the major building blocks of sustainable finance, such as ESG data, ratings, rankings and evolving regulations.” 

It also looks at how investors are integrating ESG factors into their investment processes, both in terms of risk analysis but also how the evolving landscape creates opportunities, as well as looking at ESG by asset class.

Ullrich, the lecturer for this course, shares “We survey the main types of ESG-related products and services currently available to investors and asset managers and discuss what motivates different types of market participants to engage in ESG investing.”

Real-world learning

The ESG investing course provides a comprehensive learning experience that combines lectures, case studies, and interactions with market practitioners who are pioneers and thought leaders in ESG and sustainable finance.

Through this approach, MiF students gain practical insights and a deeper understanding of how the concepts taught in class are applied in real-world scenarios. The involvement of external speakers ensures students stay informed about the latest challenges and practices in the field, and the course content is regularly updated to reflect the evolving landscape of ESG investing.

Peng shares, “While the course covers global trends and developments in ESG investing and sustainable finance, like the MiF programme as a whole, it has a strong Asia focus, and looks at the specific context and challenges of ESG investing in Asian markets.”

The module on ESG investing is just one of the ways ESSEC enables MiF students to tailor the programme to meet their own career goals, by choosing from one of three tracks, namely Corporate Finance, Financial Markets, or Fintech and Analytics. 

The strength of the programme is reflected in the fact that it is consistently ranked as one of the best MiF programmes in the world, coming first in Asia and third globally in the Financial Times’ Best Master in Finance Worldwide Ranking 2023.

To anyone considering studying ESG investing, Ullrich says: “There is growing demand for professionals with expertise in ESG investing. The students can position themselves to take advantage of these opportunities. The skills and knowledge will not only be relevant today but will continue to be in demand as the financial sector evolves. Hence, whether you're looking to advance your career, shift your focus, or simply stay ahead of the curve, this program is worth considering.”

He adds that gaining knowledge in this area not only enables finance professionals to enhance their career prospects, but it also means they can contribute to a more sustainable and equitable world.

“By understanding and applying ESG principles, you can play a part in directing capital towards sustainable businesses and practices, thereby contributing to positive social and environmental outcomes.”

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