Embedding sustainability into CFA UK’s DNA

Thursday 2 March 2023


Sustainability committee

Author: CFA UK Sustainability Committee 

As well as leading the way on professional education in sustainable investing, CFA UK’s Board is making sure ESG is central to everything we do.

In November 2020, CFA UK’s Board identified that the Society was making great strides in meeting the investment community’s needs for knowledge and skills in sustainable investing having developed and launched the Certificate in ESG Investing. In today’s world, it is recognised that sustainability touches every part of how an organisation operates. Therefore, building on the success of the ESG qualification, the board committed to consider how CFA UK’s strategic vision and overall approach were aligned to ensure the organisation operates optimally with ESG factors holistically incorporated. 

A working group was formed to lay out CFA UK’s strategic approach to sustainability and its positioning, and ultimately, to identify the practical steps the Society should undertake to deliver on its goals. This working group has evolved into the Sustainability Committee, chaired by Fraser Lundie, CFA, IMC, Head of Fixed Income, Federated Hermes.

Fraser is proud of what the group is setting out to achieve and the progress made: “We are a group of passionate and committed professionals with a remit to move CFA UK’s dial on sustainability. The scope is far reaching, but we have already made an impact by having the Society’s carbon emissions measured for the first time.”

Areas of priority focus for implementing both internal and external facing work have been agreed. Looking inwards at objectives CFA UK needs to achieve as an organisation, the Board decided to map CFA UK activity to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); ensure that CFA UK is a diverse and inclusive workplace; and update CFA UK’s investment policy for its investment reserve portfolio. Facing outwards, as CFA UK is also a responsible investment professional body with a voice to both its members and the wider world, the Board agreed that the Society would continue to provide investment professionals with professional qualifications and training on sustainability; develop advocacy and thought leadership; and set sustainability standards and frameworks.

Progress has been achieved

New qualification launch: The Sustainability Committee was formed against a backdrop of pioneering professional educational product launches. The Certificate in ESG Investing, developed by CFA UK, is now awarded globally by CFA Institute. The Certificate in Climate and Investing is the latest qualification to break new ground and further the growth of knowledge and skills in this essential area. Alongside the qualifications, CFA UK members keep up to date with the latest insights through the popular climate change podcast series

Investment reserve portfolio: CFA UK’s Investment Committee made some recommendations to the Board to evolve CFA UK’s investment policy and these were adopted in 2021. The Investment Committee had already identified that their purpose is intrinsically linked to CFA UK’s mission as they “contribute to the long-term sustainability of CFA UK.” The updated investment policy took this an important step further, stating that: “The CFA UK Investment Committee subscribes to the principles for sustainable investment articulated in the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UN PRI)”.  ESG issues will be incorporated into investment analysis and decision-making processes in the choice of external funds, and appropriate disclosures on ESG issues will be sought from the managers of the funds in which the committee invests.

Carbon emissions: The Sustainability Committee selected an environmental consultancy, Climate Partner, to measure CFA UK’s carbon emissions. Working closely with a team from the staffed office, Climate Partner looked at emissions not just from the CFA UK office, but from travel and from the Society’s popular events programme. Given the unusual landscape of recent working conditions as a result of the pandemic, it was felt crucial to look at carbon emissions before the pandemic and during in order to find a suitable baseline to work from. As a result of the output reports CFA UK has been able to identify a key change to make to events – events catering will now be vegetarian which will have a strong impact on carbon emissions from the events programme. 

What’s coming next and how you can get involved

North Star project: One of the committee’s key goals is to use the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as CFA UK’s ‘North Star’ in setting its business strategy and to measure its strategic impact and performance moving forward. This will involve aligning all policies to relevant SDGs – both internal to the staffed office and external client facing. Once mapping and alignment has taken place, CFA UK will be in a great position to set KPIs, identify the right actions to take and report on progress.

Climate conference: On 23 May 2023, our Climate Conference will tackle ‘Investing in the net zero transition’ – you’re invited to join hundreds of professionals who will be learning about and discussing this time critical issue. The conference will feature practical streams on how you can get the work done – experts will guide you through available frameworks, pathways and techniques.

Sustainability Community: In April, we are launching a new community that will become a central talking point for investment professionals. With both a virtual and in-person presence, the Sustainability Community will become the place to be to connect and learn with others to grow your career as a sustainable investment professional. There will be a great programme of interactivity taking place from speaker-led in-person events through to informal pub meets and convenient ask the expert online sessions. Led by members for members, it will be a place to find the right contacts and grow as a sustainable investment professional. Register your interest for the Sustainability Community here.

Sustainability hub: Sustainability is core to CFA UK and this will become ever easier to access on the CFA UK website with a hub that will become a sustainability one stop shop. As we move forward, this will include reporting against CFA UK’s sustainability goals as well as pointing investment professionals in the direction of education and resources.

Members of the Sustainability Committee

Fraser Lundie, CFA, IMC, Head of Fixed Income, Federated Hermes (Chair)
Graham Cook, CFA, Chief Investment Officer, Environment Agency Pension Fund (Vice Chair)
Katerina Kosmopoulou, CFA, IMC, Partner, J Stern & Co
Sylvia Solomon, ASIP, IMC





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