Exploring the New Impact Certificate by CFA Society UK: Is it worth it?

The CFA Society of the UK (CFA UK) has launched a pilot program for its Certificate in Impact Investing to meet rising demand in this field, with 200 candidates currently taking exams and 500 more registered for next year's launch. Emphasizing the role of private capital in addressing environmental and social challenges while generating strong returns, CEO Will Goodhart notes the certificate's development over 15 months with industry expert input. Covering impact investing fundamentals such as philosophy, strategy, and impact measurement, the £495 program prepares candidates for the growing sector. Initially UK-focused, it may expand as impact investing becomes more mainstream, merging financial success with positive societal and environmental change.


Impact investing aims to generate positive social or environmental impacts alongside financial returns. This certification equips you with the knowledge and skills to integrate these impacts into your investment process.


The certification covers:

- Understanding impact investing basics

- Creating strategies aligned with social and environmental goals

- Assessing impact-focused investment opportunities

- Conducting thorough research with an impact focus

- Measuring, managing, and reporting investment impacts

- Acting responsibly as an investor


The comprehensive training prepares you to make investments that achieve financial goals while also benefiting society and the environment.


Certificate Curriculum Highlights:

- Impact Investment Philosophy, Strategy, and Implementation

- Asset Classes and Products in Private and Public Markets

- Impact Selection, Measurement, Management, Monitoring, and Reporting


The exam, based on the Certificate in Impact Investing Training Manual, covers six chapters, ensuring you grasp the essentials of impact investing effectively.


CFA ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance)

Scope and Focus

The CFA Institute Certificate in ESG Investing equips you to manage investments by considering environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors, keeping you competitive in a fast-paced market.


With 100 multiple-choice questions, the CFA ESG Exam covers the historical and theoretical aspects of ESG investing. It's three times more popular than other certificates in terms of registrations and holders.


Candidates enjoy flexible exam scheduling and find the CFA ESG more cost-effective.


Curriculum and Topics Covered

The CFA ESG curriculum covers essential topics for integrating ESG factors into investment strategies, including:

- Responsible Investment Approaches

- Key ESG Issues

- Sustainability Context and Global Initiatives

- Environmental and Social Analysis

- ESG Impact on Performance and Valuation


This certification equips professionals to navigate sustainable finance, analyze ESG factors, and make ethical investment decisions.

Cost and Accessibility

The CFA ESG certification costs $795, which includes both the online learning materials and the exam fee. The course takes about six months to complete. It's recommended that you spend at least 100 hours studying before taking the exam.


Career Opportunities and Advantages

With the Certificate in ESG Investing, you can explore various career paths, whether you're looking for a new job in sustainability or aiming to become the ESG expert at your current company. Possible roles include:


- ESG Analyst

- Sustainability Manager

- ESG Specialist

- ESG Product Manager

- Head of ESG

- Chief Sustainability Officer


GARP SCR (Global Association of Risk Professionals Sustainable and Climate Risk)

Scope and Focus

The GARP SCR is a risk management certificate specifically addressing environmental and climate change risks. It offers detailed insights into managing climate change, ESG market dynamics, policies, and regulations. Tailored for risk and sustainability professionals, its relevance aligns with individual career objectives. Specializing in climate and sustainability risk management, it enhances understanding and management of these challenges. Contrarily, while GARP SCR focuses on climate and sustainability in risk management, the CFA ESG certificate caters to investment professionals, covering a broader spectrum of ESG factors.


Curriculum and Topics Covered

The SCR certificate curriculum, study materials, and exam cover the following topics:


- Foundations of Climate Change: Understanding Climate Change

- Sustainability

- Climate Change Risk

- Sustainability and Climate Policy, Culture, and Governance

- Green and Sustainable Finance: Markets and Instruments

- Climate Risk Measurement and Management

- Climate Models and Scenario Analysis

- Net Zero

- Climate and Nature Risk Assessment

- Transition Planning and Carbon Reporting


The curriculum was developed by a top advisory committee of experts linked to the latest research, teaching methods, and frameworks in this emerging area of risk.


Cost and Accessibility

New members must pay $750 for the learning materials and the exam. Unlike the CFA ESG, the GARP SCR exam is only available at certain times of the year. However, it has a lower passing mark of 51%, compared to the CFA ESG's 60-70%.


Candidates who fail the exam have a one-time chance to retake it at a reduced fee of $350. After that, retakes will cost the same as the regular exam fees, depending on the candidate’s membership.


Career Opportunities and Advantages

Getting the GARP SCR (Sustainability & Climate Risk) Certification has many benefits for professionals in different fields. Here's why:


Skill Improvement:

The SCR certification teaches you a lot about climate change and how it affects businesses. It covers things like the science of climate change, rules and laws, green finance, and planning for different scenarios. You learn more than just regular risk management, including risks related to climate change and sustainability.


Recognition Worldwide:

Given by the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP), the SCR certification is known all over the world. This makes you look more trustworthy and shows that you're keeping up with new risk management ideas, especially about climate change.


Career Growth:

Having the SCR certification can make you stand out when looking for a job. More and more organizations understand how important it is to manage climate risks, so they're looking for people who know about it. This certification can help you find new job opportunities, especially in roles that deal with risk, sustainability, and planning.


Works Everywhere:

The SCR certification isn't just for one industry. It's useful for people in finance, supply chain management, operations, tech, and more. This means you can use what you learn in different areas and help bring sustainability and climate risk management together.


Shows You're Serious:

Getting the SCR certification shows you care about dealing with climate change problems. It proves you're paying attention to environmental issues and doing your part to help businesses be more sustainable. Employers like people who keep learning and growing in their jobs.


Meet New People:

Lots of different pros from all over join GARP's SCR program. Being part of this community helps you meet new people who can help you grow in your career. You get to share ideas, learn what works best, and keep up with new stuff happening in sustainability and climate risk management.


Help Businesses Be Green:

People with the SCR certification can help companies use more sustainable practices. By being part of managing climate risks, you're helping make sure businesses are more eco-friendly and sustainable.


For pros who want to grow in their careers, especially in risk management, the SCR certification is a big deal. As more companies start using sustainability standards, having a certification like SCR can really help you stand out. It shows you're serious about handling climate risks the right way.


CESGA (Certificate in Environmental, Social, and Governance Analysis)

Scope and Focus

The CESGA exam consists of multiple-choice questions and a practical case study.


This Diploma-level course blends ESG knowledge with fundamental company analysis and valuation at both basic and advanced levels. CESGA stands out for its:


- In-depth coverage of key ESG topics and regulations

- Broad asset class range, including private equity, commodities, sovereign, and green bonds

- Practical framework for systematic ESG valuation


CESGA is ideal for financial analysts, portfolio managers, and investment professionals in roles like corporate sustainability officers, investor relations, auditors, consultants, and financial planners who want to integrate ESG holistically.


Curriculum and Topics Covered

Module 1: Recent Developments in ESG Integration

- Overview of sustainability integration in finance.

- Drivers, barriers, and challenges of ESG integration.

- Empirical studies on ESG investment and implications for sustainable investing. 


Module 2: Regulatory Environment

- Current sustainability regulations in the EU and international trends.

- Key regulations for corporations and investors.

- Interconnectedness of regulations and future trends.


Module 3: ESG Strategies

- Various strategies to incorporate ESG considerations.

- Overview of the sustainable investment landscape.


Module 4: Responsible Investing Across Asset Classes

- ESG considerations for different asset classes.

- Development of ESG strategies based on asset classes.


Module 5: ESG Reporting

- Difference between reporting requirements and frameworks.

- Key reporting frameworks and the trend toward convergence.

- ESG information sources, raw data issues, and the concept of materiality. 


Module 6: ESG Integration in Research

- Integrating ESG information into investment decisions.

- Identifying ESG value drivers, analyzing corporate governance, and sector-specific issues.


Module 7: ESG Integration in Valuation

- Incorporating qualitative analysis of ESG challenges into quantitative models.

- Influence of ESG information on financial estimates.

- ESG integration into valuation models for various asset classes.


Module 8: Investment Decision Process

- Steps of the investment process and integrating ESG.

- Challenges and effects of ESG integration.


Module 9: Case Study – ESG Integration in The Investment Decision

- Practical application of ESG integration.

- Company due diligence framework incorporating ESG.

- Examples of research and portfolio management. 


Module 10: ESG Regional Developments: ESG in Asia Pacific

- Overview of ESG regulatory framework in Asia.

- New developments in Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and other Asia-Pacific markets.

  • Complementary module, not tested in the exam.


Cost and Accessibility

The exam has two parts: 20 multiple-choice questions and case study questions. There are 120 points possible, and you need at least 50% to pass. The total cost, including study materials and the exam fee, is $1,710.


Career Opportunities and Advantages

By earning the CESGA ESG certificate, you can:


- Gain practical skills to integrate ESG considerations into your career

- Obtain a recognized certification title in the ESG field (CESGA®) to showcase your expertise globally

- Improve your career prospects and stand out from other job candidates

- Diversify your career profile and enhance your skillset to broaden your career opportunities

- Prepare for further finance designations such as CFA, FRM, or CAIA


While especially useful for financial analysts and portfolio managers, CESGA is also ideal for investment professionals in various roles, including corporate sustainability officers, investor relations, auditors, consultants, and financial planners who wish to fully embrace ESG integration.


SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board)

Scope and Focus

The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) provides one of the key ESG frameworks for businesses to disclose financially material sustainability information to stakeholders. This program equips professionals with the knowledge to link financial performance and sustainability. The certification includes two exams. Passing the Level 1 exam makes you an "FSA Level II Candidate," and passing the Level 2 exam grants you the title of "FSA Credential Holder."


Curriculum and Topics Covered

Focusing on "financial materiality," SASB Standards address issues that impact a business's ability to create and sustain enterprise value. SASB reporting offers a broader view than traditional financial reports, which rely on existing financial data. In contrast, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards assess "impact materiality," evaluating a company's economic, environmental, and social impacts beyond its financial outlook. 


Different reporting frameworks cater to various users. SASB disclosures, like traditional financial reports, are mainly for investors and economic decision-makers. Broader reporting frameworks, such as GRI, are valuable for those interested in a company's overall impact on sustainable development.


Cost and Accessibility

The Level 1 exam costs $450 for non-members and $400 for alliance members. The Level 2 exam costs $650 for non-members and $500 for alliance members. These fees include study materials and exam costs.


Career Opportunities and Advantages

Investors globally seek consistent, comparable, and reliable data on financially material sustainability. The SASB framework ensures accurate representation of companies, eliminating guesswork and focusing on firms committed to sustainability.


Cost Efficiency: Implementing the SASB framework may incur initial costs, such as new machinery for enhanced production efficiency. However, long-term benefits include reduced production costs and increased profits.


Stronger Stakeholder Connections: Companies with SASB certification demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, attracting stakeholders who value corporate responsibility. This fosters a positive association with your company.


Legal Compliance: Since the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, efforts to combat environmental degradation have increased. Many stock exchanges now require sustainability reports from listed companies. The SASB framework helps meet these compliance needs.


Additional Benefits: SASB certification not only aids in compliance and cost efficiency but also aligns you with a global movement toward sustainability. It provides satisfaction from contributing to a better world.


Investor Insights: SASB standards offer investors industry-specific ESG reporting norms, helping them identify leaders and laggards in their portfolios, and understand related risks and opportunities.


Embrace SASB certification to enhance your business's sustainability, connect better with stakeholders, and comply with legal standards while contributing to global sustainability.