Why you need to provide sustainability training for your finance employees

By Robert Half on 28 July 2023
Estimated Read Time: 8 minutes

The Sustainable Cities Index declared Singapore as the most sustainable city in Asia, and fourth in the world. Today, the ‘Garden City’ continues to emerge as a global leader in sustainability, with government and businesses actively working towards the development of a more sustainable future.

As organisations strive to reduce their environmental impacts and meet the growing expectations of stakeholders, sustainable practices have become the cornerstone of business success. While this is critical across all areas of business operations, it is particularly significant in the finance sector where finance professionals such as chartered accountants, play a pivotal role in driving wider sustainability efforts.

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors are no longer optional considerations for businesses – they are imperative. This blog will explore the significance of sustainability within the Singapore finance sector, as well as the importance of sustainability training for the finance professionals who hold the key to positive business and environmental outcomes.

The Sustainability Landscape

Schneider Electric’s ‘Singapore Green Pulse’ survey revealed that sustainability is front of mind for Singaporeans, with an overwhelming 90% now considering themselves to be environmentally conscious. 

69% rank climate change and greenhouse emission reduction among their top three most concerning environmental sustainability issues, with air quality and pollution following at 58%.

Despite sustainability ranking highly on the agenda for Singaporeans, nearly two thirds (63%) believe the sustainability performance of the organisation they work for is average at best.

Despite the lack of employee confidence, it seems that organisations are aware of the need to sharpen sustainability efforts. The Ministry of Manpower’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL) cites various ‘Green Roles’ as currently in shortage in the local workforce, requiring highly specialised skills. Employment Pass (EP) applicants can now obtain bonus points for the specified roles including: Carbon project/program manager, Carbon verification and audit specialist, Carbon standards and methodology analyst and Carbon trader.

Andrea Wong, Managing Director of Robert Half Singapore, says that sustainability is the way of the future. “My advice for employers thinking about preparing their finance staff for sustainability training is DON’T wait. Every industry is set to undergo rapid sustainability transformations - those that succeed will be the ones whose finance teams stay ahead of the skills demands and knowledge requirements.”

The way forward

Robert Half proudly supports the Institute of Chartered Accountants Singapore (ISCA) and their recent curation of bespoke sustainability training courses. This selection of Sustainability Courses has been carefully crafted to help businesses advance their knowledge in sustainability, with particular focus on the development of sustainability initiatives and sustainability reporting.

Designed for business owners, graduates and finance professionals including chartered or certified accountants, these courses are valuable in identifying and addressing sustainability challenges and opportunities.

If you’re looking to renew your sustainability focus or, elevate the expertise of your finance employees, be sure to explore the brand-new range of sustainability courses.

If you’re looking for a candidate with an edge in sustainability, our experienced team of talent specialists are here to help. Contact us today.

The importance of sustainability training for finance professionals

Having spent extensive time with finance professionals including chartered accountants, the Robert Half and ISCA teams drew clear observations about their place in the sustainability space. One such observation was the undeniable gap in training and education.

With their new range of sustainability courses, the teams are dedicated to renewing sustainability focus amongst businesses while helping to future proof the skills of finance professionals.

Andrea Wong says, “if you want to show your employees that sustainability is important, commit to cultivating a sustainable culture. Actions speak louder than words and training is the ultimate way to equip your team with the tools for positive change.”

So, what exactly do finance professionals including chartered accountants, have to gain from sustainability training?

Enhanced Understanding of ESG Principles

When it comes to financial decision making ESG principles are critical. Sustainability training equips finance professionals with the skills to assess the ESG impacts of business actions in conjunction with wider regulatory frameworks. This expertise empowers finance professionals to align their strategies with sustainability goals to cultivate positive change.

Improved risk management capabilities

Sustainability training helps to strengthen the management competencies of finance professionals such as chartered accountants. Comprehensive training empowers these individuals to identify and assess ESG-related risks such as: climate change, regulatory compliance, and reputational risks, so they can manage sustainability threats appropriately. This helps to build enduring organisational resilience and stability.

Improved opportunity identification skills

Sustainability training imparts finance professionals with insights related to emerging trends to align their strategies accordingly. This knowledge enables them to make informed decisions and capitalise on sustainable investment opportunities in respect to things like: renewable energy, clean technologies and sustainable infrastructure.

Stronger stakeholder relationships

The Sustainability Courses developed by ISCA place great focus on sustainability reporting - the practice of measuring, disclosing, and being accountable for an organisation's economic, environmental, and social impact. The ability of finance professionals to accurately articulate these factors is instrumental in building enduring transparency and trust with investors, regulators, customers, and employees.

Greater alignment with regulatory requirements

Sustainability training paints a detailed picture of Singapore’s robust regulatory framework. This training helps finance professionals to stay abreast of regulatory developments while equipping them with the skills to navigate the complex compliance requirements. This critical compliance knowledge helps organisations to avoid penalties while highlighting their commitment to sustainability and responsible financial practices.

A more enriching employee experience

Sustainability training sends a clear message to finance professionals such as chartered accountants, that their organisation is dedicated to sustainable growth and development. This positive societal impact paves the way for employees to feel more motivated and committed to their work. A meaningful experience contributes to greater employee engagement and a more innovative and productive workplace.

Business Benefits

By bringing sustainability training to the forefront for finance employees, businesses and the environment are also set to benefit through:

Improved reputation and stakeholder engagement

The growing sustainability consciousness of investors, employees and customers, leads to growing expectation that businesses will demonstrate their own sustainability commitment. In doing so, businesses can boost their reputation, attract socially responsible partners and strengthen customer loyalty. In aligning with wider social values, businesses can also help to attract and retain top talent, specifically those seeking purpose driven workplaces.

Interested in how much you should be paying your employees? Take a look at Robert Half’s 2023 Salary Guide.

Mitigation of risks

Sustainability efforts play a valuable role in mitigating financial risks to ensure long term viability. If managed ineffectively, factors like climate change and environmental regulations can pose a risk to business success. By integrating ESG factors into their risk management frameworks, businesses can anticipate and respond to emerging challenges to protect financial performance and safeguard stakeholder interests.

Sustainable Investment Opportunities

Finance professionals such as chartered accountants, would be acutely aware that there is growing demand for sustainable investments in Singapore. With stakeholders seeking environmentally responsible partners, businesses are in a unique position to capitalise if they can provide the right offerings. Businesses that can use ESG considerations to tweak or develop sustainable products, services and investments, can gain competitive edge within the market. While this helps to drive financial returns, it also supports Singapore’s national sustainability goals.

Regulatory compliance and reporting requirements

Singapore businesses operate within a structured regulatory framework that promotes sustainable practices. With regulators including the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) introducing guidelines to drive sustainable finance, it’s more important than ever for businesses to ensure that they are financially compliant to maintain licenses and accreditations.

In addition, businesses are required to disclose ESG information transparently to reporting frameworks, including the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). It’s crucial that businesses stay abreast of these requirements to demonstrate compliance and meet the expectations of regulators and stakeholders.

Driving Innovation and Collaboration

With finance teams facing various sustainability requirements, they find themselves in a unique position to incite change. When employees observe finance professionals such as chartered accountants embracing sustainability initiatives, it can go a long way in fostering a wider culture of sustainability, innovation and collaboration. When employees are on board with an organisation’s sustainability practices, it can help to propel creative thinking about innovative sustainability solutions for a greener future.

Put simply, the successful businesses of the future will be sustainable businesses. While the issues around sustainability are complex, education and training play a pivotal part in cultivating positive change for businesses and the environment. By equipping finance professionals such as chartered accountants with necessary knowledge and skills, businesses in Singapore can pave the way to a greener future while gaining a competitive edge in the marketplace.

For more information, visit www.isca.org.sg/sustainability

If you’re seeking advice on any workplace issues within your business, our experienced team of management specialists can help.

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