8 September, 2021 / Comment
What I’ve learnt from my ESG investment internship
By Therese Marie Peters
Climate change management and finance student Therese Marie Peters shares her highlights with ESG Clarity Intelligence
I am currently completing my master’s degree at Imperial College in climate change management and finance, while doing an internship at SUSI Partners in their sustainable investing team in Zurich.
During the last few months of my internship, I have been given the chance to take full ownership of projects. It has been exciting to formulate and present my ideas, drive them forward and see them materialise over the course of my internship. In that sense, the internship has had a very entrepreneurial feel with many opportunities to collaborate with different teams on various projects.
I have had the opportunity to build upon the knowledge acquired in the course of my master’s studies and dive deeper into GHG accounting on a project level, ESG due diligence, and learn more about current energy transition investment opportunities.
The challenge of metrics
A big challenge has been navigating and understanding the implications of new regulatory requirements and ESG data requests, particularly on a fund level.
Putting theoretical frameworks and new sustainable investing regulations into a specific fund’s context helped me understand the value-add provided by ESG and sustainability reporting and the importance of asking the right questions.
Learning about the different reporting frameworks and non-financial data metrics has also highlighted the current tug of war between having an industry-wide standardised framework versus developing high-quality inhouse ESG and impact assessment capabilities. Frameworks are helpful, but expert knowledge and experience in specific asset classes is key!
It is often difficult to boil down a variety of material ESG risks and opportunities, such as biodiversity, social inclusion or governance structure, into one metric. It is especially challenging to adopt one and the same ESG assessment approach or metric across different asset classes, technologies, and regions.
Adequately accounting for ESG risks and opportunities requires a thorough due diligence process, which is flexible enough to capture project-specific ESG considerations and requires continuous engagement once an investment is made.
Luckily, I have been able to leverage and learn from the extensive knowledge of my and other teams across SUSI Partners to build upon my understanding of the material risks and impact opportunities across technologies and how ESG considerations can improve financial performance.
Advice for others
This part of the industry needs talent that understands asset-class and technology-specific ESG considerations.
There are many sustainable investing and ESG analyst jobs out there, but some are more ESG ‘tick box’ reporting functions. So it’s good to know what you’re after and to take a look at firms’ diverging investment strategies.
Following industry initiatives, such as UN Principles for Responsible Investment and Global Impact Investment Network, joining local sustainable investing networks, asking questions and attending webinars, for example on BrightTALK, are good places to start.
Apply for internships you come across, or just reach out to people working in the industry on Twitter or LinkedIn. You can also contact firms and enquire about the possibility of doing research projects with them.
I am still navigating this space, with a steep learning curve ahead, which I very much look forward to as the industry develops and I get a chance to further explore ESG considerations that are specific to asset classes, technologies, and regions. I am excited to be part of this collective effort across the market to continuously expand our understanding of how we can promote and better execute sustainable investments with a positive impact on environment and society.
Peters was one of the winners of Majedie’s Next Generation Investor competition, who, along with her two teammates, grew their portfolio by 7.93% over six months.
Part of the Bonhill Group.