Eco-friendly profession grows
As Hong Kong banks expand their environmental initiatives, usually through socially responsible activities and lending policies, career opportunities are opening up for experienced professionals who can manage green development incentives.
According to recruitment experts, after employee relations and reputation, the other key factors candidates consider when applying for a job in banking and finance are ethical, green, and sustainability issues.
Amy Ho, associate director at recruitment firm Ambition, says recruitment and training in the "green banking" environment is still at an early stage.
She notes that the number of environmental professionals being hired remains low compared with other professional skills.
Green banking initiatives also open the way for non-financial professionals to join the finance industry. For example, Bank Sarasin, acknowledged for pioneering sustainable investment tools in the private banking sector, has a team of analysts that includes geographers, biotechnologists and environmental scientists.
To meet internal demands, banks usually prefer to hire experienced staff with a track record of identifying environmental risks that could lead to losses, such as financial costs and damage to reputation. Environmental risk managers also look at key issues, such as establishing and adhering to policy frameworks and the way loans are made.
Banks that are serious about developing their environmental aspirations also need professionals to liaise with clients. For instance, HSBC's Climate Change Corporate Partnership Programme is designed to support customers with financial and non-financial solutions to build sustainable businesses.
The bank also helps companies improve their operational effectiveness and cash-flow management while contributing to protect the environment. This includes working with clients to find practical, systematic ways of "greening" their day-to-day operations. The initiative includes green equipment financing that allows customers to invest in eco-friendly equipment.
HSBC also offers an energy-efficiency loan scheme to help enterprises save energy.
Bruce Schlein, Citibank's vice-president of environmental affairs, says his company has invested widely in its environmental efforts. The bank provides training to employees to help them understand and implement the firm's environmental and social risk management policies.
Citi has also worked with participants in China's financial services sector to find ways of integrating environmental risk into their credit policies. This could mean that companies looking to borrow from mainland banks could be restricted from accessing commercial credit if they were discovered to have bypassed environmental assessments or failed pollution checks.