Save the Earth: Pursue A Career in Green Finance
“The climate emergency is a race we are losing, but it is a race we can win.”—UN Secretary-General António Guterres
An alarming heatwave has spread throughout South-east Asia since April 2023, with temperatures soaring to a 40-year high of 37 degrees Celsius in Singapore last week. Researchers pinpointed climate change as the factor which made this heatwave thirty times likelier.
After experiencing the immense impact of climate change firsthand, are you moved to do your part for the environment? Most millennials have already taken small steps towards sustainability by recycling or using reusable bags instead of plastic bags. Some of you have even committed to a zero-waste lifestyle filled with mindful consumption.
If you’re passionate about the environment, consider jobs which are closely aligned with your eco-friendly values. That way, you can not only earn a paycheck but also make a difference in the world. Save the planet by pursuing a career in sustainable finance!
The Trillion-Dollar Opportunity in Green Finance
As Singapore aims to be the regional hub for green finance in Asia, there is an abundance of career opportunities locally. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) jobs increased 257% since the Singapore Green Plan 2030 was launched in 2021.
What’s more, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) just released the Finance for Net Zero Action Plan (FiNZ Action Plan) last month. The FiNZ Action Plan makes climate disclosures—in line with the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) standards—mandatory for Singapore-listed companies in the finance, agriculture, energy, and transport sectors. Hence, the demand for ESG talent is particularly strong!
Potential Career Paths with Estimated Salary Ranges
The first thought that comes to mind regarding green careers is working in a non-profit organization (NPO) such as the Singapore Environment Council. While NPOs typically have a rigid payscale, the work is extremely rewarding and filled with meaning. The average annual salary of a junior executive in civic society organisations ranges between S$40,000 and S$50,000, which is relatively lower than the compensation offered by commercial companies.
A career in corporate sustainability means that you will spearhead sustainability initiatives, monitor your company’s environmental footprints and evaluate ESG risks in annual sustainability reports. Annual salaries for more junior roles in corporate sustainability range from S$50,000 to S$80,000.
If you join an ESG advisory firm, you will help companies implement sustainability solutions as an external—rather than in-house—consultant. It is not at all surprising that sustainability practitioners in the banking and finance industry are the most well-remunerated. You can expect a higher starting pay—with better career progression—when you work in financial institutions.
A sustainability analyst in a bank in Singapore earns an estimated S$65,000 to S$90,000 annually. As you advance to more senior positions, your annual salary can double or even triple that amount. According to Michael Page’s ESG & Sustainability Salary Guide 2023, the head of sustainable finance at a bank earns at least S$350,000 a year.
Kickstart a Career in Green Finance
In order to have a career in sustainable finance, you need to possess inter-disciplinary skills like environmental science and climate risk on top of having financial expertise. You can consider obtaining a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Sustainable and Green Finance from the newly established Sustainable and Green Finance Institute (SGFIN).
Besides pursuing postgraduate education, you can also attend short courses to learn about ESG markets, portfolio analytics, and client reporting. Courses offered by the CFA Institute and other Polytechnics are specially geared towards mid-level professionals who seek to acquire green skills.
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