Supply/demand problem for ESG specialists

There is a keen need for more specialists in environmental, social and governance (ESG) to work in superannuation, according to a panel.

Speaking at the Australian Superannuation Investment conference, held by the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) in the Gold Coast, a panel discussed how superannuation funds were working towards net zero.

A hindrance, the panel said, was that there was a lack of supply of specialists in ESG.

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Letitia Webster, managing director and chief sustainability officer for asset management at Goldman Sachs, said: “We need more people who understand ESG and the financials behind it, how do you take these scenarios and turn them into models in our investment strategy. There is not enough people in ESG and sustainability out there today”.

Fellow panellist, Liza McDonald, head of responsible investments at Aware Super, added Aware had hired people from all walks of life and that people could learn themselves on the job.

“We have hired people from a range of backgrounds such as engineering and technology who understand ESG. You can absolutely learn and educate yourself and that’s what people need to do. The CFA is including it in their qualification, so are universities and schools, and from that then more people will come through [with that experience].”

This was seconded by Webster who said there were many people in the corporate world who had experience in ESG and ESG solutions who were “hungry to work in financial markets”.

Lou Capparelli, senior manager for sustainable portfolios and governance at UniSuper, said that ESG was implemented by the whole of the investment team, not just by those who were dedicated ESG specialists.

“It’s about learning through doing, there are 60 of us in the investment team and we all have ESG responsibilities and that broadens out the skillset beyond the four people in the ESG team,” he said.

Earlier this year, Kaizen Recruitment found that ESG specialists could earn as much as $300,000 for their experience.

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