COP26 Boosts Opportunities for Retirement Specialists in Growing ESG Context

SCOTLAND’s pensions sector received a ‘green gift’ following the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 held in Glasgow last November.

The spotlight has been on global leaders working together to achieve net zero carbon and the subsequent prioritization of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues has provided better opportunities for pension specialists to provide expertise and advice.

Pension providers have achieved the gains of COP26, but to continue to do so and to sustain business infrastructure in 2022, the sector must identify and retain top talent.

These are the findings that have been highlighted in Core-Asset Consulting’s seventh annual Salary Guide to Scotland’s crucial financial services sector.

Louise Powrie of Core-Asset described how COP26 added an “increased focus on prioritizing sustainability”.

The report is a forensic examination of current salary levels and a guide to key developments professionals should be aware of.

In a market commentary dedicated to pensions, the report paints a picture of the economic, regulatory, technological and human capital challenges facing the sector.

Louise Powrie, Divisional Director, Permanent Team, Fintech and Pensions at Core-Asset, said: “The actuarial and investment advisory space for pensions continued to grow in 2021.

“This was driven in part by climate-regulated financial disclosure regulations, which impacted larger pension plans from 2022.

“COP26 and the increased attention to prioritizing sustainability and transitioning businesses to net zero has helped raise the profile.

“There are continuing opportunities for advisory firms to offer sophisticated ESG solutions to clients, helping them address the challenges of climate change by providing enhanced expertise and investment advice.

“Retirement providers need to be aware of how to attract the best individuals beyond their competitors – differentiating themselves by offering flexibility, access to cutting-edge technology and clear outlines on progression.

“The shift to fully remote working throughout 2021 may have been forced due to Covid restrictions, but it has allowed many companies to see the value of a more flexible workforce, without necessarily affect productivity.

“This change in work ethic has also positively increased the representation of diverse and disabled workers at all levels.”

The report found that the availability of jobs in the sector now exceeds the availability of candidates and that a shift to a candidate-driven market is directly correlated to increased operational confidence and growth and expansion programs driven by government policy.

Other markers include increased salary levels to secure candidates and an increase in counter offers from current employers to “prevent” individuals from changing roles.

Louise Powrie added: “Retirement and investment consultants at all levels, but particularly those with between five and ten years of experience will be in high demand in 2022.

“Similarly, fundraising specialists and those operating in the ESG and SRI spaces (at all levels) will attract a premium.

“This demand for niche talent may be somewhat mitigated by the ability of Scottish recruitment firms to have staff based anywhere in the UK.

“Remote working means that a pool of London-based candidates is now a more feasible option for Edinburgh-based businesses.

“However, the economic disparities in wage levels and operating/living cost differences between Scotland and cities like London, will result in significant business impacts for companies based here.

“It can also lead to difficult internal discussions about equal treatment of employees, with those employees at the same level, doing the same job, with different salaries, in different locations.”

Core-Asset is Scotland’s leading recruiter in the financial services sector and has access to information from thousands of candidates and top Scottish employers in the sector, which accounts for 7% of Scotland’s GDP.

Its annual wages guide is a report produced exclusively on the Scottish jobs market that compares wages and jobs in Scotland.

The data and figures produced there paint a crucial alternative picture to the usual London-centric reports.

The report highlights how Scotland continues to build its reputation as a hub for large, globally-based investment operations firms, continuing the trend that began in the mid-1990s when firms began to outsource roles technically complex operations in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Core-Asset Consulting was established in 2005.

Based in Edinburgh, it is a £14 million business that employs 22 people and works across the financial services industry.

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