As asset managers step up their hiring in ESG, investment houses that do not offer opportunities to work with SRI could lose out on top talent.
‘Do you have any roles focusing on ESG?’ has been a frequently asked question by jobseekers in the past year. And the good news is that, yes, we do have an increasing number of roles focusing on Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) but it is still early days.
At Morgan McKinley, we have seen a year-on-year surge of approximately 15% of our jobs containing elements of ESG, namely in investment writing and RFPs, but we are starting to see more in traditional marketing roles and we only expect this to increase as asset managers re-focus their priorities.
Due to a combination of factors including: increased legal requirements, pressure from competitors, and beneficiaries demanding increased transparency regarding their investments, more and more asset managers are considering what they can do to attract and retain investors. The provision of ethical investments opportunities is one of the solutions.
Russell Girvan, former Head of Marketing Planning at Legal and General Investment Management, commented that ESG demand is very much driven by the clients, meaning that ESG has moved from the appendix to the front page. Clients, particularly end-consumers, care more about where their investment is going. He explains how numerous companies have responded to client demands by saying they have ESG, but is this just a buzz word? Do asset managers really have the right structure in place to make sure ESG has the credibility to be taken seriously by clients? If not, change is on its way.
What clients want is what candidates are also looking out for. As asset managers step up their hiring in ESG, investment houses that do not offer opportunities to work with SRI could lose out on good talent. In recent years we have seen how asset managers battling for top talent are using their sustainable responsible investment offerings to charm applicants, and it works!
Russell Girvan, agrees that “everyone is talking about ESG”. Jobseekers appear to want to work for future-fit organisations who act responsibly with their investment decisions and adapt to the demand from investors for options to invest ethically, even if they come with long-term returns.
Subsequently, there is fierce competition between candidates for ESG related opportunities. The talent pool most interested in such opportunities are made up of two types of jobseekers; those who have had exposure in their current role and are keen to have a more ESG focused role going forward and those who are interested in this space, perhaps because they invest responsibly in their personal life and want to work for such an organisation.
For marketing professionals, the attraction to ESG marketing is pure and simple: It is a new and exciting area of investments, with scope to be creative with campaigns.
There is no doubt that the talent pool for ESG experts is limited, as it is still a niche skill set. The FT described it as ‘a war for talent’ in an article in June 2018, explaining that there are very few ESG experts in the industry at present, and therefore they are highly sought-after and employers will pay for the privilege of expert knowledge.
Interestingly, Russell Girvan commented that the big corporates are not the only ones trying to lead on ESG. Therefore, jobseekers committed to finding an ESG related opportunity should be open minded in terms of size of business they go to.
For more information on ESG related opportunities, please do not hesitate to contact me for a confidential chat.