Finance students want education that is in line with the Paris Agreements

Are future graduates of the Faculty of Finance “luxury” as Agro Paris tech engineers? A study commissioned by WWF and For Environmental Awakening found that 75% of finance students want more environmental transition courses. Driven by the demand of young people and companies, the training courses are adapted and begin to reflect deeply.

This is a revolution in the financial sector. Shareholder income gives way to other student ambitions. A study by WWF and the Environmental Awakening Association, published on Tuesday (June 7th), shows that three-quarters of finance students want more courses in environmental transition. In addition, 77% of students believe that financial institutions play an important role in making the transition smooth. Significant results in schools, such as the Kedge Business School, where the number of dissertations on responsible finance has grown from one per year in 2012 to 60-70 today.

“Finance is an important lever for changing companies that are not yet clean.” says Lou Riviere, who is an intern at Sycomore AM’s B Corp-certified management company for a master’s degree in sustainable finance at Kedge. Satisfied with this choice, she regrets, however, that she had to discover subjects such as carbon emissions and finance finances on her own, rather than earning a bachelor’s degree from IESEG. “Given the current catastrophe, sustainable finance should not be a specialization!” She exclaims.

“Investing in projects with economic, environmental and social value”

“We study the ethics of our suppliers and customers. The indirect impact is huge,” admires Oreli Otran, who discovers the importance of the non-financial sector during her Master 1 internship at Kedge Business School, where she has to comply with regulatory changes. “Now is the time to invest in projects with economic, environmental and social value.” says Salma McBull, who is going to do an internship after graduating from the Société Générale. During the break, she realized that stable funding is important both for compliance with the Paris Agreements and for financial results.

But the integration of sustainability into master’s financial programs should not be limited to simple green lacquer on existing training. “It is not enough to add a few courses on ESG criteria and green bonds. We need universality, integration of these topics into all courses,” warns Christoph Revelli, Professor Kedge, who in 2016 created Europe’s first master’s degree in sustainable finance. “This is another turn”, he explains. Stable funding requires a rethinking of all the usual tools to serve sustainability. At the very least, Christoph Revelli recommends teaching all finance students energy and climate issues, understanding ESGs, and methods for measuring environmental and social impact. The first step is to understand the purpose of sustainable financing. A term that all students, interested in or not, will face in their careers.

Redesign programs

For wider training, regardless of level, WWF and the Environmental Awakening team recommend involving industry professionals and stakeholders. They cite the example of the Toulouse Business School, which has partnered with scientists specializing in climate and other environmental issues. Echoes of a report by Jean-Josel submitted last February to the Minister of Higher Education, which recommends preparing 100% of bac +2 students for the transition within five years.

Many masters specializing in stable finance have hatched throughout France, listed in the catalog of the Forum de l’Investissement Responsable. The most advanced schools are reviewing their programs. Audencia, a business school in Nantes, encouraged Shift Project to review its course brochure. This gave rise to the Climat Sup Business project to rethink all training in commerce and finance in light of global constraints. Finally, to avoid the “green” during training, the association “Finance of Tomorrow” is considering the possibility of creating a label. Meanwhile, it is the reputation that drives students’ choices.

Fanny Bruneval