New institute to groom talent in green finance

It will offer undergrad and postgrad courses, and continuing and professional education

Singapore is now Asean's largest green finance market.
Singapore is now Asean's largest green finance market.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

A new institute here will conduct research and train professionals to become talent in green finance, an area of banking and investment supporting projects that take into consideration climate change and other environmental concerns.

The Singapore Green Finance Centre (SGFC) will tap the strengths of Imperial College Business School and the Lee Kong Chian School of Business at Singapore Management University (SMU) in climate science, financial economics and sustainable investing.

When ready, the centre will offer undergraduate and postgraduate courses, as well as continuing and professional education.

The Straits Times understands that the centre, which will have a physical presence in Imperial College Business School in London and SMU, will offer a mix of online classes and in-person programmes. The centre's first programme starts in June next year.

The launch of SGFC was announced yesterday at the virtual Financial Times Investing for Good Asia conference. The centre is supported by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and nine founding partners: Bank of China, BNP Paribas, Fullerton Fund Management, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Schroders, Standard Chartered Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and UBS Group.

In a joint statement, the two academic institutions and MAS said SGFC's multidisciplinary research and training will enable financial institutions, corporates and policymakers to improve the management of environmental risks, develop financial solutions to promote environmental sustainability, and design policies for a sustainable future.

SGFC aims to equip professionals with skills in climate finance and applied knowledge in Asian markets.

"This will develop a strong pipeline of green finance talent which financial institutions and service providers can tap as they expand teams and deepen green finance capabilities to serve the growing needs of Singapore and the region," the statement said.

The centre will be jointly led by Professor David Fernandez, director of SMU's Sim Kee Boon Institute for Financial Economics, and Dr Charles Donovan, professor of practice and executive director of Imperial College Business School's Centre for Climate Finance and Investment.

An advisory board, comprising MAS, both academic institutions and the nine founding partners, will provide guidance on the centre's strategic direction.

MAS managing director Ravi Menon said MAS is committed to developing a vibrant green finance research and talent ecosystem in Singapore to support Asia's transition to a low carbon future.

"The SGFC will be an important part of this ecosystem, bringing together two leading academic institutions in environmental science and financial economics."

In a statement, Standard Chartered Singapore chief executive Patrick Lee noted that the Asia-Pacific region needs investments of up to US$1.5 trillion (S$2 trillion) a year to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. "This is an area where Singapore, as a key global financial centre, can make a difference," he said, adding that climate change is redefining the way business is done and risks managed.

Mr Desmond Kuek, divisional vice-chairman for UBS Global Wealth Management, said the bank believes that a 100 per cent sustainable investment portfolio can deliver similar or potentially higher returns compared with traditional portfolios.

He said: "More of our clients are seeing sustainability as an integral part of their business strategy and value system, and that it offers strong diversification to help weather the economic uncertainty and market volatility that will likely persist in the decade ahead."

"SGFC's multidisciplinary research and training will enable financial institutions, corporates and policymakers to improve the management of environmental risks, develop financial solutions to promote environmental sustainability, and design policies for a sustainable future."

"The centre will be jointly led by Professor David Fernandez, director of SMU's Sim Kee Boon Institute for Financial Economics, and Dr Charles Donovan, professor of practice and executive director of Imperial College Business School's Centre for Climate Finance and Investment."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2020, with the headline 'New institute to groom talent in green finance'. Print Edition | Subscribe