Hundreds of Irish financial sector professionals are to be given specific training to help them deliver compliance around a raft of new laws and regulations related to sustainable finance, helping to position Ireland as a global sustainable finance centre.
Funding was announced today (October 14) by the Sustainable Finance Skillnet and IFS Skillnet for a new programme for compliance professionals on tackling key climate-related financial reporting and disclosure issues.
The new compliance professional programme is the result of a collaboration between IFS Skillnet, Financial Services Ireland (FSI), the Ibec trade association representing the full suite of financial services companies in Ireland, The Sustainable Finance Skillnet (SFS) and the Association of Compliance Officers in Ireland (ACOI), the professional body for over 3,200 compliance professionals.
The role of the compliance professional is becoming one of the most important positions in boardrooms as businesses seek to show investors, shareholders, and customers that they have sustainability practices in place to deliver on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Today’s announcement was made during Climate Finance Week Ireland 2021, organised by Sustainable Finance Ireland (SFI) with the Department of Finance. Sustainable finance is a priority for the Government through its latest Ireland for Finance Action plan (2021).
The programme is part of a collective effort to address the talent gap in sustainable finance with the development of educational programmes that encompass the regulatory impact of sustainable finance regulations, particularly at EU level. All financial market participants and financial advisers must abide by new rules on transparency around the integration of sustainability risks and impacts, with respect to financial products.
Under the new EU Taxonomy, companies will need to invest more time and effort to be compliant. Having a base of educated professionals in Ireland will allow global companies to tap into that talent base, for example basing global compliance functions in Ireland, helping to establish Ireland as a global sustainable finance location and a hub for talent and skills in this vital area.
Funding for the programme will enable content that can be delivered via educational institutions and made available to compliance professionals, equipping them with the knowledge to implement standards in climate mitigation such as TCFD.
This new Compliance programme will also:
• Assist participants to implement good corporate governance regarding current and pending ESG regulations.
• Amplify existing knowledge and expertise among compliance professionals in financial services companies and prepare and equip them for a challenging future.
• Provide compliance professionals with awareness, knowledge, and practical skills to provide governance and influence on sustainable finance in their firms and boards; and
• Position Ireland as the leading centre globally so that Ireland becomes recognised as a centre of excellence in sustainable finance and ESG.
Yvonne Holmes, Chief Sustainability Officer in AIB and Chair of the Sustainable Finance Skillnet Committee, said:
“The area of sustainable finance is evolving to meet the expectations of a range of shareholders, including investors, policy makers, regulators, central banks, and society. With Brexit, there have been a number of new financial services firms establishing in Ireland. Ensuring compliance professionals have the knowledge to lead their companies through existing and upcoming regulatory changes, such as the SFDR and the EU Taxonomy, means there is an opportunity to cement Ireland’s reputation as a global innovator in sustainable finance.”
Joe Duffy, Senior Client Executive, BNY Mellon and FSI Board member said:
“This new programme is the result of exploratory work since December 2020 involving stakeholders including industry, education providers and sustainable finance experts. FSI – and industry – fully supports the development of new education programmes such as this one which will proactively educate and equip compliance professionals with sustainable finance skills and knowledge that will be needed into the future, while helping Ireland become a leader in this space.”
Commenting, Tracey Donnery, Executive Director of Skillnet Ireland said:
“Sustainable finance has become increasingly central in the financial services industry as the effects of climate change continue to have a devastating impact globally. Through a unique combination of deep industry collaboration, high-calibre research, and exceptional talent development programmes, Skillnet Ireland is helping financial institutions to play a leading role in building a more sustainable economy.
“Skillnet Ireland proudly supports this highly relevant and timely programme from Sustainable Finance Skillnet and IFS Skillnet which will help ensure we are preparing finance professionals with the talent and skills needed to position Ireland as a world-leading green finance hub,” she added.
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*The Sustainable Finance Skillnet (SFS) has, since the beginning of 2020, supported over 1500 Irish-based financial services professionals from over 350 firms, to upskill in the area of sustainable finance. The SFS supports courses, masterclasses, webinars and events focusing on ESG, climate and sustainable finance issues for the whole of the financial services sector, including banking, insurance, asset management, investment management and funds.
**IFS Skillnet have previously developed a Masters and Graduate Diploma in Sustainable Finance and has 11 years’ experience delivering accredited training to the financial services sector.
**SFS, part of Sustainable Finance Ireland, has experience in the development and piloting of a course on the EU Taxonomy for Sustainable Activities. The course was CPD accredited by the Institute of Banking and was piloted with finance professionals.
***Skillnet Ireland is a business support agency of the Government of Ireland, responsible for advancing the competitiveness, productivity, and innovation of Irish businesses through enterprise-led workforce development. Skillnet Ireland partners with over 50 industry bodies and enterprise clusters, supporting over 21,000 businesses annually, through its 73 Skillnet Business Networks across most sectors and all regions in Ireland. Skillnet Ireland is funded from the National Training Fund through the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.