2021 was the year in which Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) jobs in financial services came of age. As issuance of green bonds hit record levels after the pandemic, there was a rush for ESG expertise that saw candidates with the right qualifications approached by up to 25 headhunters a week. Although investors' appetite for doing good appears to be waning in the recent market turmoil, the push for net-zero isn't going away and ESG specialists are unlikely to find themselves forsaken in 2022. One particular breed of ESG expert is likely to be front of the hiring queue: the ESG data science professional.
Earlier this month, BlackRock, said clients are only now beginning to consider the risks that climate change might bring to their portfolios. BlackRock is therefore adding to its climate analytics platform, Aladdin Climate, to help clients calculate decarbonization risks. Aladdin Climate employs people like Diana Gergel, a climate and data scientist with a PhD in computational hydrology.
Man Group is also building out quantitative systems to underpin its ESG goals. The London-based investment management firm is hiring an ESG quantitative developer to work with its ESG data science team analyzing ESG datasets for research, analysis and reporting. Successful candidates need to be Python experts and data scientists with (preferably) a strong interest in ESG and an understanding of machine learning techniques like natural language processing.
Rufus Grantham, a former head of EMEA and APAC Research at RBC Capital Markets, is among those to have spotted the ESG data opportunity. He's building a tool to analyze ESG sentiment data. "We've analyzed 1.5 trillion bits of written published content from a huge range of sources, including Twitter, published media and the trade press," Grantham told us before Christmas. "The intention is to build something that will predict, for example, the collapse of Wirecard, or companies hit by scandals over clothing supply changes."
Spotting a new niche, universities are already beginning to offer courses that specialize in data science for ESG. In the UK, the University of Exeter, for example, has an MSc in applied data science (environment and sustainability), and Imperial College offers an MSc in environmental data science and machine learning.
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