“I've worked in financial services for 20 years, but I've never worked on a particular initiative where so many driving forces have come together at the same time."
Sandra Rockett, Director of Wealth & Corporate Distribution, Irish Life Investment Managers
CHALLENGES: ADDRESSING THE ESG TALENT GAP
Responsible Investing is often defined as taking environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into account when making strategic investment decisions. Once considered a ‘niche’ sector, sustainable finance has crossed into the mainstream with the introduction of new regulations and a gradual shift in mindset across the financial services sector. This changing focus has highlighted the need to address the skills gap that exists within the sector today.
Irish Life Investment Managers (ILIM) is at the forefront of the sustainable finance agenda in Ireland. Sandra Rockett, Director of Wealth & Corporate Distribution, has played a lead role in the company’s sustainability journey and says the transformation has been influenced by a range of factors: “I’ve worked in financial services for 20 years, but I’ve never worked on a particular initiative where so many driving forces have come together at the same time. Sustainability is becoming synonymous with certain consumer choices and that’s extending into financial products. The enablement of considering sustainability is still evolving and the regulation is very new. You have this significant shift but the level of skills expertise and working knowledge within the industry is concentrated and not widely spread.”
In determining a roadmap to addressing the ESG talent needs within the business, Sandra highlights two primary challenges: “One [challenge] is bringing people on a journey, building their awareness, building their understanding, and building their support for the initiative. The other is a scale challenge – not only do you have an emerging area of expertise, you also have the challenge of dispersing this knowledge across the organisation and beyond. We needed to incorporate sustainability in a meaningful way to enable a business-wide cultural strategic shift in terms of how we run our business and how we make decisions on a day-to-day basis across all teams.”
SOLUTIONS: BUILDING A TALENT DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK
Sustainable Finance Skillnet partnered with ILIM to develop the first industry focussed framework of talent development around responsible investing, capable of identifying and sponsoring the development of programmes designed to equip staff across the business with knowledge of ESG and sustainable finance.
Sandra says: “Sustainable Finance Skillnet provide a single contact point, where you can scan the market and have good visibility over a breadth of different products. They bring new ideas to you because they’re working with different partner firms as well. You get an intrinsic kind of knowledge sharing happening.”
To-date, the collaborative, cost-sharing partnership has resulted in the roll-out of three bespoke programmes in sustainable finance and responsible investing. Initially focusing on upskilling specialist expertise within the fund management and distribution teams in 2019, programmes were extended to the wider employee base of over 200 people in 2020, and most recently to ILIM’s wide network of partners and external stakeholders.
IMPACT: SUPPORTING ILIM’S TRANSFORMATION JOURNEY
The collaborative approach has enabled ILIM to look beyond solely offering training and upskilling solutions to establish a talent development framework around sustainable finance that is both intertwined with the overall objectives of the business and aligned to the various business functions.
Sandra says: “the skill enablement, the expertise building, whether that’s technical or foundational, is the starting point for any strategic initiative. Had we not started that, I don’t believe we’d have been able to deliver the pace of progress that we have. The transformation that we are on would not have been possible without it.”