Future Focused

The JSE is highlighting the importance of sustainability roles in the financial markets ecosystem

Future Focused

The global financial services industry must prioritise creating green jobs to help drive sustainable economic growth and combat climate change worldwide. Embracing green jobs not only addresses environmental challenges but also enhances competitiveness and resilience in the face of shifting market dynamics.

‘In the South African financial services industry, employers are actively seeking professionals equipped with skills and qualifications tailored to sustainability,’ according to Gabrielle Hussain, Business Manager: Group Operations and Sustainability at the JSE. ‘Key attributes in demand include a comprehensive grasp of ESG principles, analytical ability to evaluate ESG trends and navigate associated risks and opportunities, and to seamlessly integrate sustainability factors into financial decision-making processes.

‘Additionally, regulatory knowledge concerning sustainability and green-finance regulations is highly valued, alongside proficiency in relevant software and tools for ESG data analysis and reporting. Familiarity with sustainable investment strategies and frameworks, as well as expertise in assessing climate-related risks and opportunities within investment portfolios, are also increasingly sought after. Candidates with sustainability-related certifications and qualifications further bolster their credibility in these roles.’

She says the JSE has been proactive in taking steps to enhance talent progression and promotion processes, aiming to foster sustainability-related roles within the stock exchange itself.

‘We have an internal sustainability committee, comprising representatives from each division, serving as a cornerstone in this endeavour. These committee members act as custodians, collaborating with the sustainability function to realise the JSE’s Sustainability Strategy. Through this framework, employees are provided with opportunities to engage in sustainability-related projects, thereby expand-ing their skillsets and deepening their understanding of sustainability topics. Furthermore, the JSE is set to introduce net zero training for all staff, aiming to embed sustainability consciousness across all organisational functions.’

Apart from setting an example within the exchange, the JSE is taking steps to contribute to the awareness of sustainability topics within the broader SA financial services sector.

‘The JSE actively engages in both national and international initiatives aimed at fostering sustainable and transparent business practices, as well as responsible investing,’ says Hussain. ‘Our involvement spans participation in ESG/sustainability forums, leveraging our role as an exchange to advocate for behavioural shifts and facilitate critical discussions on sustainability issues.

‘An annual highlight is the JSE’s Sustainability Showcase Day, a two-day event bringing together industry experts from diverse sectors within the financial services industry to delve into ESG considerations and advocate for responsible investing and sustainable development. Also, the JSE Academy offers a range of courses designed to enhance knowledge and expertise in sustainability-related areas.

‘These courses, both paid and free, cover topics such as an introduction to sustainability, sustainable finance and impact investing, investor engagement on ESG, and establishing operational capabilities for sustainability reporting, among others.’

She says the JSE has identified some challenges with relation to fostering the growth of sustainability-related jobs in the local financial services sector.

Among these are an insufficient skilled workforce to match the rapid expansion of green and sustainability roles; the proliferation of green offerings and regulatory changes have led to the emergence of new roles, exacerbating the gap between demand and available skills; and the persistence of a green skills gap, indicating a need for proactive upskilling initiatives within the industry.

‘To address these challenges, organisations can implement firm-wide training programmes, such as the training offerings through the JSE Academy, to enhance the skills of employees as well as encourage further education within the field,’ says Hussain. ‘Additionally, fostering a culture of sustainability across all business areas is crucial, encouraging employees to integrate sustainability considerations into their daily decisions. This holistic approach is essential for addressing sustainability challenges on a global scale.’

By Patrick Farrell
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