Education and sustainable finance
"Training is the prerequisite for action", reads an open letter to French President Emmanuel Macron sent by 17 prominent civil society figures including climate and energy expert Jean-Marc Jancovici. An open letter demanding that members of the French government be educated on the climate issue.
This is hardly surprising given that the topic was already at the heart of the Rio Conference, organised by the United Nations in 1992, and that in 2015, during COP21, Article 12 of the Paris Agreement once again emphasised the importance of education on climate change in order to achieve the objectives set.
This reflection concerns society as a whole, including the financial sector, of course. Numerous regulations, such as the MiFID21 revision on ESG preferences, encourage financial intermediaries to offer responsible investment products to their clients and to explain to them that they have the power to take positive action for the climate and society with their savings. However, to date, according to an IFOP2 survey for the French Forum for Responsible Investment published in September 2022, only one in 10 French people have been offered SRI3 products by their advisor. This striking finding illustrates financial advisors’ lack of training in these subjects and, consequently, their discomfort in addressing these issues, and ultimately their inability to offer their clients the opportunity to discover SRI.
In view of this observation and convinced of its responsibility on the matter, La Financière de l'Echiquier (LFDE) decided, from 2018, to actively contribute to the training of its employees and clients in sustainable finance.
Training our teams
Our path began with the training of all our staff, starting with our fund management and sales teams. Each employee receives general training on sustainable finance when he or she joins the company, as well as access to thematic training modules throughout the year, provided by our Responsible Investment Research team. The topics covered are numerous: finance and climate, corporate governance, biodiversity, European taxonomy, customer satisfaction, sustainable finance regulations, etc. This ongoing training is essential to enable each employee to take ownership of these subjects, which are at the heart of our company's culture, and to keep up with market developments, particularly regulatory issues. In addition to this internal training programme, we offer our teams an opportunity to have their knowledge certified through programmes such as the CFA ESG or the new AMF4 Sustainable Finance Certification in France. This opportunity has already been seized by some thirty of our employees. The emulation provided by this training dynamic allows us to anchor the challenges of sustainable finance in the daily life of each of our teams.
Training our clients
Very quickly, we decided to adapt our internal training courses to our clients, particularly wealth management advisors. We began with a general programme on sustainable finance, L'Ecole de l'ISR by LFDE, to ensure that our clients have a basic knowledge of sustainable finance and that they can develop a critical mindset about the products they are offered. In 2020, this programme was adapted into an educational podcast, "Un pied devant l'autre", so that a wider audience can benefit from its teachings. Finally, as part of LFDE's climate and biodiversity strategy, we wanted to increase our clients' knowledge of climate and biodiversity preservation issues. We have therefore sponsored a MOOC5 dedicated to biodiversity, the "MOOC Biodiversity, Meeting the challenge of life", which is both expert and educational, and open to all. We have also raised awareness among our clients through the La Fresque du Climat interactive workshops. In a similar vein to the SRI School, in 2022 we launched L'Ecole du Climat by LFDE, designed to increase our clients' knowledge on the subject and give them the means to become agents of change. We also offer these courses to tomorrow’s finance professionals by providing courses on these issues in various higher education institutions in France.
In total, more than 3,600 people have been trained by us and more than 330 hours of training have been delivered by our teams! We are proud to be contributing to the democratisation of sustainable finance through these awareness-raising and training initiatives, in the hope of mobilising more and more capital flows in favour of responsible companies that are shaping tomorrow’s world.
Coline Pavot, Head of Responsible Investment Research, La Financière de l'Echiquier (LFDE)
All figures coming from LFDE internal source, as of January 2023
1Markets in Financial Instruments Directive
2French public opinion institute
3Sustainable and Responsible Investment
4French Financial Markets Authority
5Massive Open Online Course
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this document are those of its author. LFDE cannot be held responsible for them in any way.