Name of Network: Sustainable Finance Skillnet
Number of members: 360
Sector(s) covered: Financial Services (Asset owners and managers, banking, insurance, fund administration)
Year established: 2018
Please describe what your Skillnet Business Network does and how it came about?
The Sustainable Finance Skillnet (SFS) is a national Skillnet Business Network working to develop skills and leadership capacity to advance sustainable finance best practice across Ireland’s financial services sector. Promoted by Sustainable Finance Ireland, the key focus of SFS is to improve the long-term sustainability of the finance services sector and establish Ireland as a leading sustainable finance knowledge centre. The work of the Business Network aligns with the Government’s Ireland for Finance strategy and the Climate Action Plan, as recommended in the Deloitte report on a ‘Deep sector analysis of future Sustainable Finance skills and talent requirements in Ireland’.
Can you outline one important way your Network impacts positively on your sector?
Sustainability, once regarded as a niche area, is becoming the new business as usual. If Ireland is to continue to be a top tier location of choice for international financial services, we need to significantly invest in upskilling Irish-based professionals in the area of sustainable finance. The Sustainable Finance Skillnet offers companies the opportunity to upskill their people in relation to sustainable finance. There is an active and urgent demand as sustainability issues come to the fore socially, are increasingly important in the battle for talent and in response to the forthcoming ‘tsunami’ of green and sustainable financial regulations. In 2020, we supported more than 1300 professionals, delivering over 1,800 training days right across the financial services sector. These programmes are now being viewed as a best practice case study internationally.
What has been the most transformative initiative in your sector in the last year?
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, SFS has grown rapidly, developed cutting–edge programme content and has been integral in delivering the hugely successful Climate Finance Week 2020. However, the most important initiative is the development of Ireland’s National Sustainable Finance Roadmap which kicked off in March 2021 and is ongoing. The roadmap will steer Ireland towards being a leader in Sustainable Finance by 2025 and aims to launch at Climate Finance Week 2021 in October.
What new trends do you see emerging within your industry?
More sustainability related legislative changes from an EU and domestic level that will further the requirement for financial services professionals to include environment, climate and social factors into their investment decision–making and risk management frameworks. We also anticipate growing concerns for biodiversity and nature-related factors within the financial services sector and for these to be integrated into financial planning, performance, and reporting as it is increasingly incorporated with climate-related factors today.
How is your Network using technology to facilitate learning and development programmes?
This year as part of the Irish Road to COP26 campaign, the SFS are running bespoke, virtual workshops which will focus on practical guidance around implementing the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), which has become the de facto climate risk reporting framework. In addition to these workshops, there will be four capacity building sessions over the following nine months. These will be used to ensure a thorough understanding of teachings across the two workshops this July and create an online ‘community of practice.’
Do you have any advice for a business that is considering joining a Skillnet Business Network?
The support available through a Skillnet Business Network is extensive and can encourage a ‘rush’ to take advantage of them. In many cases though, it is better to work in partnership with the Network to clearly identify skills gaps and plan training needs analysis. Companies that take this more strategic approach can really amplify the value of the supports available. We encourage any company considering upskilling in this area to connect with us and discuss their challenges and goals.