Almost half of respondents to survey of Irish finance professionals believe that they are “beginners” in sustainable finance

44% of finance professionals in Ireland feel that they are “beginners” on the subject of sustainable finance, according to a new study, entitled ‘Sustainable Finance Skills: Deep Dive Study’, launched today. The report, by KPMG for the International Sustainable Finance Centre of Excellence, also showed that biodiversity was the area where finance professionals felt there was the greatest skills gap, and that there was a strong preference for skills to be delivered in “on the job” training

Among the key findings in the report are that 44% of finance professionals in Ireland feel they are “beginners” on the subject of sustainable finance, including 77% of those working specifically in banking and 84% of insurance professionals. Only 37% of respondents thought they had all the sustainable finance skills and knowledge to carry out their current role most effectively.

Over 50% of respondents felt that mitigating climate change was a challenge facing their firms, over 40% called for the establishment of more micro-credential programmes to advance knowledge across the industry, while 75% of respondents found that the courses provided by the Sustainable Finance Skillnet were beneficial for them.

In the qualitative component of the research, several respondents gave clear feedback on the future for sustainable finance in Ireland. A senior member of staff at a retail bank said: “It’s clear that the appetite for ESG 101 has transformed into a hunger for more detailed, specific, and practical courses that truly addresses the complexities of this agenda.”

Other feedback included a need for Ireland to stay ahead by embracing courses on topics such as biodiversity and forward-looking trends, and that there was high demand for courses that are relevant for specific career needs, as well as a call for ESG specific training for board members.

Stephen Nolan, CEO of the International Sustainable Finance Centre of Excellence, said:

“This is a very important piece of research on the current skill levels of Irish finance professionals. It’s clear from the data that while there are significant skills gaps, there is also significant demand from finance professionals for training in these areas. There is also a strong appetite for more specific, granular courses that are directly relevant to different career paths within financial services.

“With the support of Skillnet Ireland, we have trained over 3,000 Irish finance professionals so far, and we are going to build on that number in the years ahead. Ireland is already ahead of other countries in relation to sustainable finance, but we need to stay ahead, and to do that we need to increase the skill level of our finance professionals, especially in areas such as biodiversity.”

Mark Jordan, Skillnet Ireland Chief Strategy Officer, said: “Since it was launched last year, the International Sustainable Finance Centre of Excellence has made great strides in equipping Irish businesses with sustainability skills needed to navigate the green transition. The findings outlined in this report show Irish businesses are aware of the existing and future challenges presented by climate change. Furthermore, it proves there is an appetite among the wider financial services sector for sustainable finance training and talent development programmes, such as the ones designed and delivery by Sustainable Finance Skillnet.”

Supported by Skillnet Ireland, the International Sustainable Finance Centre of Excellence hopes to build on the findings of the report to expand the skill level of the Irish financial services sector.

Courses currently provided by Sustainable Finance Skillnet include a Professional Diploma in Sustainable Finance Reporting and Disclosures, a Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainable Financial technology, and Innovation and a Professional Diploma in Sustainable Finance for Compliance Professionals.

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