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BSc Finance (Sustainable finance) - At a glance

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What is sustainable about finance?

Think for a second - what pictures come into your mind when you hear the word “finance”? I am guessing here, but I expect you have just seen piles of cash, computer screens full of data and a city skyline. Where is the sustainability in sitting at a computer screen, moving electronic money around the world from the comfort of your air-conditioned office?

The answer is somewhere in all that data on the screen. Imagine that you want to start a responsible business you will need money, this probably means borrowing from a bank and let’s face it, banks do not always have a reputation for being the good guys. Yet there are banks which make their money by lending only to the good guys like you who are doing something to help society. Now think bigger, how do large organisations and governments fund big environmental projects? Increasingly they issue green bonds, in other words they borrow money for environmental purposes from people who don’t just want to get a return, but to get it in a way that chimes with their ethics. Those people don’t just buy green bonds, they avoid buying shares in companies that pollute the environment or buy products from sweat shops and they seek out investments in businesses that take diversity, equity and inclusion seriously.

Sustainable investment is big business, so a lot of that data you imagined earlier relates to sustainable or responsible investment products. In 2018 over half the assets under management (portfolios run by professional fund managers) in Australia and New Zealand were invested sustainably. The exact figure was 63%, up from just 17% in 2014 (Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, 2019). Canada edged over the 50% mark, but the figure was lower in other countries. Interest in sustainable investment has increased during the pandemic as people have had time to consider their relationship with the natural world, so we should see further upward movement in sustainably invested assets under management reflected in the next report from the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance.

If you want to find out more about how the finance industry can encourage responsible business practices, the sustainable finance pathway within the BSc Finance is the one for you.

Published 11 February 2021

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