In Focus: Summit Finuas Network, Green IFSC and DCU Business School
Published in Business and Finance
Green IFSC and the Summit Finuas Network are collectively developing the talent of tomorrow through education, up-skilling and knowledge-sharing, writes Paul Harris.
The Summit Finuas Network is instrumental in the ongoing development of the skills and education of those working in IFSC Ireland, which now employs some 33,000 people. As Ireland positions itself as a global leader in green finance, the Network plays an enabling role. Working with international financial services companies and educational partners, the Green IFSC meets the challenge of up-skilling experienced executives and recent graduates to take advantage of this growing marketplace. In addition, Skillnets, the government’s enterprise-led training agency, has provided grant funding to accelerate the development of green finance skills.
Speaking of the significant role education will have on the future of Ireland’s green industries, Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, said: “To ensure we have the skills required into the future to sustain growth in this market, Green IFSC has helped launch a series of new courses in sustainable finance at some of Ireland’s leading universities and set itself the target to up-skill some 10% of those already working in international financial services and funds in the next few years alone.”
The Green IFSC is an output of the Clearing House Group of the Department of an Taoiseach tasked with ensuring Ireland offers the optimum environment for green finance to flourish; ensuring Ireland has the skills to provide financing solutions as the world transits to a low carbon economy.
The Government’s ‘Strategy for the International Financial Services Sector 2011-2016’ highlighted the emerging green economy as a key area for growth for the country. It said: “The most promising opportunities involve the development of Ireland as a centre of excellence in green finance, a centre of excellence in the management of carbon, and the creation of an enabling, coordinated and supportive eco-system to facilitate this development.”
Investment in green finance activities have increased to a record $263 billion in 2011, up 6.5% from 2010 levels. At the same time, green investments managed out of Ireland have grown rapidly and have doubled to $2.3bn over the past two years.
“These are managed funds we are talking about – not just funds that are administered here,” explained David Guest, Chairman, Green IFSC. “And, in fact, these funds managed from Ireland have experienced a 200% increase over the past four years.” Guest added: “When you look at funds managed, domiciled or serviced from Ireland, we have $10bn which accounts for around 4% of the global market.” Green IFSC, through its Global Green Asset Management Network, has set a target of $200bn in assets managed, domiciled or serviced from Ireland by 2017.”
The potential for new employment in the sector is exciting. Green IFSC highlights the importance of ensuring that Ireland has the skills, talent and competence which will be required to drive the development of sustainable finance business. Green IFSC is putting in place an unique infrastructure which brings together educational bodies and industry leaders to provide the widest range of development opportunities for its rapidly growing community of sustainable finance professionals.
Best practice models of knowledge and innovation globally have demonstrated the effectiveness of regional industrial clusters. Geographical proximity – a feature of the IFSC development – allows companies to maximise learning; formally and informally.
The green finance strategy for talent will actively support companies to develop world-class competence through specialist workshops, seminars, masterclass, short executive programmes, and high level educational qualifications. By enabling IFSC companies and academics to come together, to create new education and training programmes, the Green IFSC is supporting a coordinated approach.
The strategic partnership with the Summit Finuas Learning Network provides funding and facilitation for this work to build the skills to service the growing green economy into the future. Already, this approach has facilitated the development of new high-level educational programmes in sustainable energy finance for finance professionals. DCU Business School in partnership with Green IFSC and the Summit Finuas Network, has led the development of two innovative programmes: Dublin City University (DCU) PostGraduate Certificate in Sustainable Energy Finance, and DCU MSc in Sustainable Energy Finance. The University College Dublin (UCD) MSc in Energy and Environmental Finance has also made an important contribution to high level green finance skills.
Some 20 executives will soon graduate from the first DCU Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Energy Finance. The programme which was delivered on a part-time basis to suit busy professionals, included finance professionals from a range of international financial services companies and green enterprises, as well as companies that support and enable green finance – legal practices and sustainability consultants.
The course provides a broad and comprehensive overview of sustainability finance topics such as climate change principles and policy responses, sustainable finance risk management and regulations, green technologies and emerging markets, carbon accounting and tax.
It is unique in its faculty profile as most modules are led by senior company executives with extensive subject matter expertise. Case studies of Irish companies feature strongly, giving students the opportunity to directly interact with entrepreneurs in the Irish marketplace. This is complemented by leading academics in the field to bring the latest research, models and global context to the programme.
This course draws together, for the first time anywhere, the key elements of green finance in a comprehensive and practical way, enabling the participants to play a central role in the evolution of this marketplace both in Ireland and internationally.
The Summit Finuas Network funded the development of the Graduate Certificate in 2011 and has continued its support in 2012 by providing grant funding for the development of a new MSc in Sustainable Energy Finance. Brian McMahon, Network Manager outlines the ongoing commitment to the programme: “The Summit Finuas Network is providing substantial resources to these developments to play its part in bringing forward IFSC strategy. The network provides grant aid to executives to attend the programmes, which greatly reduces the cost to the companies. This has been welcomed by IFSC companies seeking to develop competence in emerging sustainable finance energy markets.”
A further Graduate Certificate programme is now open for applications and 2012 will also see the launch of a two year part-time MSc option. Mark Cummins, Course Director in DCU explains: “The Masters programme will develop sustainable energy finance skills to support new business streams within investment banks, professional firms working in the broader green economy and companies which are developing renewable products and technologies.”
The programme prepares participants for advanced management and leadership in all areas of sustainable energy finance. It equips participants with a relevant range of analytical, technical and methodological skills, thereby enabling them to generate successful solutions to the opportunities and challenges that present themselves in the wider sustainable energy finance context, including climate change, sustainability and policy, finance for sustainability and legal issues for sustainability.
The Green IFSC initiative has seen the knock-on effects of the new programmes. A network of green finance professionals has now emerged which will be supported by Green IFSC to access information on new developments in policy, regulations, markets and technologies.
“An innovative feature of our talent strategy is to create a new community of practice where green finance professionals can access their peers in the Irish market,” Stephen Nolan, executive coordinator, Green IFSC initiative says. “As developments in the sustainability sectors evolve, this will provide an ongoing source of knowledge and market intelligence. The group will be supported by Green IFSC seminars, workshops and networking events. Our aim is to support both existing and new talent to rapidly leverage the capacity of the IFSC to become a leader in global green finance practice.”
Applications are now open for the next Postgraduate Certificate and the Masters in Sustainable Energy Finance. The closing date for applications is 3 August. Programme brochures and course outlines are available on the Summit Finuas website, www.summitfinuasnetwork.com.
Paul Harris, the Industry Course co-director, is a member of Green IFSC Steering Group and Head of Natural Resources Risk Management, Bank of Ireland Global Markets. One of the brains behind Ireland’s first environmental finance Postgrad course where he is co-course director, Harris says that Ireland has the knowledge and the know how to excel in green finance.
For further information contact Louise Ryan at 01 6051546, or email