Finance students want to study in line with the Paris Accords

Will future graduates of financial universities “fork out” like the engineers of Agro Paris tech? A study commissioned by WWF and Green Awakening shows that 75% of finance students want more courses on green transition. Driven by the demand of young people and companies, training courses are adaptable and initiate in-depth reflection.

This is a revolution in the financial sector. Shareholder returns give way to other student ambitions. A study by the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Association for Environmental Awakening, published on Tuesday, June 7, shows that three-quarters of finance students want to take more courses on environmental transition. In addition, 77% of students believe that financial institutions play an important role in ensuring the success of the green transition. Visible results in schools such as Kedge Business School, where the number of dissertations in responsible finance has increased 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 doing an internship at B Corp-certified management company Sycomore AM for her master’s degree in sustainable finance at Kedge. Delighted with this choice, she nonetheless regrets having to study topics such as carbon footprint and financial impact on her own rather than during her bachelor’s degree from IESEG. “In view of the current catastrophe, sustainable finance should not be a specialty!”, she exclaims.

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

“We study the ethics of our suppliers and customers. The indirect impact is huge.” says enthusiastically Aurélie Autrans, who discovers the importance of the non-financial sector during her Masters 1 internship at Kedge Business School, where she has to keep up to date with legal developments. “Now is the time, we must invest in projects that have economic, environmental and social value,” says Salma Macboul, who is about to do an internship at the Société Générale sales floor. During the hiatus year, she realized that sustainable funding was needed both to meet the Paris Agreements and to achieve financial results.

But integrating sustainable development into Masters in Finance programs should not be limited to a simple “green lacquer” of existing teaching. “It is not enough to add a few courses on ESG criteria and green bonds. We need transversality, the integration of these topics in all courses”, warns Christophe Revelli, professor at Kedge, who in 2016 created the first European master’s degree in sustainable finance. “It’s Another Turn”he explains. Sustainable finance requires rethinking all conventional tools for sustainability. At a minimum, Christophe Revelli recommends training all finance students on energy and climate issues, understanding ESG metrics, and how to measure environmental and social impact. The first step towards understanding the purpose of sustainable finance. A term that all students, interested or not, will encounter in their careers.

Review programs

For more general learning, regardless of level, WWF and the Green Awakening team recommend engaging professionals from the sector and stakeholders. As an example, they cite the Toulouse Business School, which forms partnerships with scientists specializing in climate or other environmental topics. An echo of Jean Jouzel’s report, presented last February to the Minister of Higher Education, recommending that 100% of bac +2 students be trained in environmental transition within five years.

Many masters specialized in sustainable finance have hatched throughout France, listed in the Forum de l’Investissement Responsable directory. The most advanced schools are reviewing their programs. Audencia, a business school in Nantes, called on the Shift Project to revise its course brochure. This led to the Climate Sup Business project to rethink all commerce and finance education in light of planetary constraints. Finally, to avoid greenwashing in education, Finance of Tomorrow is considering creating a label. Meanwhile, it is reputation that determines the choice of students.

Fanny Bruneval