Broker Check

What did I learn from my ESG Investing Certificate program?

| June 11, 2023

In May 2023, I passed a Prometric Center test to get my ESG Investing certificate. The Certificate in Economic, Social, and Governance (ESG) Investing was developed in concert with the CFA Society of the UK and launched globally in 2021. It is the first of its kind to be introduced on this scale to educate and support investment professionals so that they can lead the industry in the critical initiatives that will shape the future of the financial profession.

The CFA Institute is a leader in the education of financial professionals. CFA designation is regarded highly throughout the world. Since its establishment in 1947, the CFA Institute has developed highly educated, ethical professionals who pledge to prioritize their clients' interests. 

There are a few education programs in this area. Still, I chose this particular one because it encompasses the US, European experience and regulation, and other countries worldwide. I wanted to see the big picture and how we fit into it. 

I was attracted to this program because the group is well-regarded in the ESG space. I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of this subject and was pleased to find this program offered what I was looking for. I wanted to understand the science and trends and not solely review opinion-based information. It is also important to be able to address concerns over potential ESG product greenwashing. This is especially true due to the high demand from investors for products and skills to support sustainable investing.

I studied details of each of the economic, social, and governance aspects of ESG. This program taught me different ways to analyze and account for various impacts. Some examples of these impacts include the climate, waste materials, our oceans, fair labor practices, and equitable pay. Additionally, we studied the implications of compliance, corruption, and risk management. The program was thorough and offered a plethora of information, some of which I had not yet considered.

At its current state of maturity, ESG Investing is like the Wild West. This is because there is not a lot of standardization of criteria or regulation on what qualifies as good ESG investing. Some argue that additional requirements related to ESG could harm businesses and distract them from their focus on profitability. For these reasons, not everyone is convinced that ESG investing is a worthwhile framework for making investment decisions. I can understand both sides of this issue. 

We offer ESG investing models and use these and other principles because our clients care about improving the world. We believe there is a way to grow wealth and, at the same time, leverage that wealth for good. ESG investing is just one of the tools in our toolbox to help us do that.

ESG investing options in their current form may only be appropriate for some. Depending on your time horizon, commitment, and financial ability, we offer a wide range of available investments, from broadly diversified, best-in-class, to thematic (non-diversified, more targeted, and more volatile). We work with each client individually to discover their best investment approach.

My journey through the ESG Investing Certificate program has been a worthwhile experience. It has deepened my understanding of sustainable investing and equipped me with more knowledge and tools to positively impact the world through my investment decisions. I am excited about the opportunities it brings to align with our client's financial goals, our values, and our ability to contribute to a more sustainable and equitable future.

Resources we use are CFA Institute, Morningstar Sustainalytics, MSCI, As You Sow, Your Stake, and Dimensional Fund Advisors.