PIMFA launches online ESG Academy to help advisers meet investor expectations

PIMFA, the trade association for the wealth management and financial advice industry, in partnership with Morningstar, a leading provider of independent investment research, is delighted to announce the launch of its ESG Academy, an online training platform for financial advisers to equip them to advise their clients about ESG investing.

The PIMFA ESG Academy, which officially launches on 15 September 2020, is a new CPD-accredited, online learning experience that is free to PIMFA members. The Academy has been designed especially for Financial Advisers to provide them with an immersive and engaging learning experience that supports them in making the most of the growing opportunities arising for their clients from ESG investments.

Demand for ESG (environmental, social and governance) investments has never been higher with sustainable vehicles seeing net subscriptions totalling GBP1.2 billion in July and globally, sustainable investment funds reached USD1 trillion in Q2 2020.

Morningstar’s analysis suggests there is no performance trade-off associated with sustainable funds, revealing the majority of European sustainable funds outperformed their traditional peers over multiple time horizons across seven Morningstar Categories.

Additionally, more sustainable funds have survived in the past 10 years, in relative terms. Of sustainable funds available to investors 10 years ago, 72 per cent have survived, compared with less than half (45.9 per cent) of traditional funds.

PIMFA’s ESG Academy is not a traditional online class - participants can learn at their own pace and in their own time, and they will have access to a library of ESG content that they can engage and interact with on any device.

The online course is split into three modules1 designed to provide financial with a greater knowledge and understanding of ESG and participants can register here. The Academy simplifies the array of latest information and language around ESG, while also delivering the latest regulatory guidance.

In this supportive, online learning environment led by experts in the field, including Dan Lefkovitz, Strategist for Morningstar's Indexes group, Anastasia Georgiou, Director of Client Solutions, Advisor Segment, EMEA, at Morningstar, course leader and Founder and Director of SRI Services and Fund EcoMarket, Julia Dreblow and PIMFA senior policy analyst Des FitzGerald, advisers will gain deeper insights into the diverse and occasionally complicated nature of ESG investing.

Those taking part in the free course will learn how to recognise and meet their clients’ demand for ESG investing and be able to explain clearly and succinctly what qualifies as an ESG investment and what does not. Participants will also learn to use appropriate tools and portals to identify suitable ESG investment paths for their clients and develop opportunities for themselves and their firm by guiding clients through ESG investing.

Liz Field, Chief Executive of PIMFA, says: “ESG is a term we are going to hear more and more frequently in the coming years. What is comforting to some extent, as Mark Carney told delegates at PIMFA’s Virtual Fest earlier this year, is that as an industry we are more aware of the ESG factors that are beginning to shape our world than perhaps some other sectors.

“Increasingly, we are seeing client demand for these types of investments and it is clear that ESG factors are having a significant impact on company performance. There is an opportunity to be seized here, and those companies that ignore ESG, or commit a misstep, could incur significant economic costs and jeopardise their ability to earn long-term, sustainable profits, which in turn has an impact on investors.

“It is with these factors in mind that PIMFA, in partnership with Morningstar, has launched the ESG Academy. We want to ensure that our members, and through them their clients, are provided with the latest information and support, equipping them with everything they need to understand, and if appropriate, embrace the future of ESG in investment strategies.”

Anastasia Georgiou, Director of Client Solutions, Advisor Segment, EMEA, Morningstar, says: “We are thrilled to be research partner with PIMFA on the ESG Academy. As Morningstar data shows, global sustainable investment funds reached a record-breaking US$1 trillion in Q2 2020, demonstrating that ESG is fast becoming the new standard for long term investing. Morningstar is committed to making sustainable investing and ESG measures clear and meaningful for investors. The recently finalised the acquisition of Sustainalytics, a globally recognised leader in ESG ratings and research, adds to our expertise.

“With emerging regulation and changing client preferences, there is an increasing imperative for advisers to have both the knowledge and the necessary skills to frame the conversation on ESG with clients, understand their preferences and provide advice on sustainable investments.

“The ESG Academy is a first meaningful step advisers can take in preparing for these changes”.