ESG Specialists Become Catalysts for Change In Financial Services

Aug 4, 2022

Following the launch of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero in April 2021, over $130 trillion of private capital has been committed globally to transforming the economy for net zero. This drive by the private sector to hit net zero targets is creating opportunities across Financial Services.

Financial Institutions are playing an integral role in the push to net zero and this has led to a sharp rise in ESG and Sustainability focused roles within Investment Banking & Alternative Investments.

Five years ago, ESG expertise was found in only a handful of financial institutions which has meant that those recruiting for ESG focused roles have had to think creatively about where they hire from! In 2021 and 2022, Stem 7 have placed candidates from development banks, government bodies, rating agencies, data providers and consulting firms into senior level positions within Investment Banking & Alternative Investments.

Candidates from these types of backgrounds did not embark on a career within ESG & Sustainability with a view to becoming Investment Bankers or Fund Managers. When Stem7 have approached candidates about Investment Banking and Investments roles, candidates are often contrasting these opportunities against roles within development organisations, public bodies and sustainability focused roles within corporates. This has meant that their criteria and considerations differ from traditional financial services candidates.

An authentic and genuine commitment to ESG tops the list for most candidates we speak to. A candidate we placed into a Head of ESG role with an Investment Bank recently wanted assurances from the Board that they viewed ESG as of integral importance to society and not just a commercial opportunity to generate revenue.

We have also had a candidate from a Sustainability focused consultancy reject a highly lucrative offer from an Investor recently because the Fund was, in their view, too exposed to fossil fuels: “The role was fantastic and the people I met throughout the process were great. I really wanted to join but I could not in good conscience join a Fund with such a high level of exposure to the Oil & Gas industry.”

Although ESG candidates have reservations about transitioning into the cut throat world of Financial Services, other candidates see this transition in a completely different way: “Banks and Funds are integral to net zero” one candidate we placed into an ESG Advisory role within an Investment Bank told us recently: “if firms are going to hit their net zero ambitions they are going to need capital from Investment banks and Funds to make this happen. While Investment Banking was not at the top of my agenda when I left university, the work I am doing is having a tangible and demonstrable impact!”

Stem7 Executive Search is a specialist executive search firm focused on the Investment Banking and Alternative Investments space.

Will Invine is the Founder of Stem7 and has seventeen years of executive search covering Investment Banks and Alternative Investments. He has executed a number of searches within the ESG & Sustainability space globally.