After graduating from Cardiff University in Economics and Management, Amelia was still very unsure about what she wanted to do as a career. Like so many other graduates, she felt overwhelmed, but she was certain that she wanted to put the theory she had learned at university, into practice.
On discovering The Financial Services Graduate Programme, Amelia felt it was the perfect opportunity.
She said: “The rotational aspect of the Programme meant I would be able to try out different roles in the financial services industry and experience different cultures between companies. It also meant I could use everything I learn in my placements to support my MSc studies and vice versa.”
Amelia is currently on her first placement at Hodge Bank where she has been working on their ESG strategy and it’s become something she is increasingly passionate about.
“I had never heard of ESG before starting my role at Hodge and I imagine so many other people are the same, so I want to use this opportunity to raise awareness and spread the word because it’s important.”
What is ESG?
“Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) is the evaluation of a firms’ conscientiousness on sustainability.
The Environmental factors include a firms’ contribution to climate change, through greenhouse gas emissions, waste management and energy efficiency.
Social factors involve looking at human rights, diversity and inclusion as well as looking at how involved the company is with the local community and suppliers.
Governance plays a fundamental role in ensuring the inclusion of social and environmental considerations in the decision-making process,” Amelia told us.
Why is ESG important in Financial Services?
Amelia explained that: “after the Covid-19 pandemic, it became clear that environmental and social issues have a direct impact on economic stability. Stakeholders came to realise this and have now become more demanding that businesses consider how their company affects the world and their contribution to society.
In financial services we have the additional pressure of regulators and governments driving change, and expecting financial services to lead the way, especially after COP 26 in Glasgow.
Customers want to bank with firms who reflect their values. One study from Visa found that 50% of responses were willing to swap to another bank if they offered sustainable products. As a result, more banks are looking to deliver sustainable options and so the has been a big demand for employees specialising in this area, which is what my job involves.”
Since working as an ESG Executive at Hodge Bank, Amelia has been immersed in a number of projects to help drive the business forward in this area:
“The first big project I was involved in saw me collating all the amazing things we do at the moment for website content, so we can showcase it to colleagues, customers and brokers. I was able to collaborate with colleagues from all over the business, which was a great way to meet new people.
I learnt that Hodge’s office runs on 100% renewable energy, Hodge offers equal maternity and paternity leave and is a signatory of the Women in Finance Charter.
We’re currently exploring different certifications available and have done an initial review of how we think we’d fare, as we see this as a real differentiator for Hodge given our social purpose. I’ve had the opportunity to put together and present my work to colleagues all over the business, including at board level. I was nervous at first, but excited to talk about something that I am passionate about!”
What can we do to drive up the ESG standards in business?
“As a customer, by choosing to spend your money with firms who have higher green credentials puts pressure on those lagging behind to make improvements. If you’re interested in learning more about ESG then start researching before buying from a brand so you can make more conscious decisions.
As an employee, start asking questions about what your organisation does in term of ESG, and what more they could be doing. It’s also a good idea to look at what competitors are doing and what customer and employee reactions are to this. ESG is becoming an important part of business strategies and involves participation from everyone in a company to make change, not just a few.”
A great insight into the importance of ESG in business and how Hodge are paving the way in Financial Services. Thanks Amelia!