HKUST Study Outlines Blueprint for Green and Sustainable Finance Talent Development

The School of Business and Management of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST Business School) has published a first-ever in-depth research study to help Hong Kong chart the way forward in green and sustainable finance (GSF) talent building. 

This comes amid rising global demand for such talent as investors, asset managers and other market players race to mitigate climate risks and achieve sustainable development.

Based on insights from industry practitioners drawn in interviews and a survey, the HKUST study entitled “The Hong Kong Green and Sustainable Finance Talent Development and Strategy” maps out the key stakeholders, desired skill areas and knowledge progression path of the current GSF market, providing employers, educators and job seekers useful information of the up and rising GSF sector and helps guide the city’s strategy in GSF talent development. 

In addition to offering recommendations encompassing professional certification, skills framework and the engagement of scientific expertise, the study also features different international practices, such as the active role played by UK’s chartership bodies in delivering GSF training, Singapore’s approach in upskilling its public officials on GSF, and European Union’s emphasis on educating its workforce on regulatory changes, for Hong Kong policymakers and training providers to identify areas for enhancement.

To provide the market greater confidence in GSF practitioners’ competencies, the study recommends that GSF professionals be licensed, and that the requisite certification procedure make reference to those of other professions in financial market, such as wealth management or securities intermediaries.

Green and Sustainable Finance Skills

The research team has also called for a systematic skills framework to be set up for competencies required of GSF practitioners, which should support not only Hong Kong’s global financial status, but also SMEs and family offices. Based on these competencies, a subsidy and training incentives package can be provided to encourage skill enhancement by practitioners to meet the market’s evolving needs for GSF skillset.

As a near-term measure to ease the talent gap in GSF, the research team proposed leveraging and aligning the efforts of existing charterships and professional associations, including international bodies that have already developed GSF training offerings.

The research team also suggested determining the role of scientists and environmental experts in the knowledge-value chain surrounding GSF, so that scientific expertise can be properly engaged to contribute to areas requiring specialized knowledge, including scientific policy-making, carbon measurement, and environmental impact assessments.

As part of the efforts in support of GSF talent grooming, HKUST saw its first cohort of students admitted to the city’s first GSF undergraduate program BSc in Sustainable and Green Finance in September. Senior government officials, industry leaders and prominent scholars also gathered in a three-day conference earlier this month to exchange on GSF and climate change issues. HKUST is also advancing knowledge creation through a Research Grants Council-funded large-scale research project on green finance.

Commenting on the report professor Tam Kar-Yan, Dean of HKUST Business School, said: “Since the Hong Kong and Central Governments announced their carbon neutrality plans in 2020, HKUST Business School has been committed to promoting sustainable economic development through research, talent development and industry engagement.  This report is only the first of a series of studies to help steer Hong Kong’s development into an international green finance hub.”

The study has also outlined the skills within the GSF domain that are most relevant to Hong Kong’s financial market, including taxonomies, carbon markets, environmental impact assessment, climate risk modelling as well as investment selection, mandates and active ownership.

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