COP26 stimulated new opportunities for pension specialists in a 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.

Retirement 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, from an exceptionally small and restricted candidate pool.

The results have been highlighted in Core-Asset Consulting’s seventh annual Salary Guide to Scotland’s crucial financial services sector. 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 with Core-Asset, said: “The actuarial and investment advice space for pensions continued to grow in 2021 and this was driven in part by the climate-regulated financial disclosure regulations that impact larger pensions. schemes 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.

“This is obviously encouraging news, but to be able to take full advantage of it, pension providers need to be aware of how to attract the best people beyond their competitors – differentiating themselves by offering flexibility, access to state-of-the-art 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 shift 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.

Like many financial services sectors, the pivot to digitalization has shifted the provision, administration, governance and operation of pensions online, shifting the balance of power from providers of finance to consumers of finance. High Street transaction points and even telephone promotions or sales campaigns have given way to a truly digitally produced service with several million pounds invested by the industry to support the digitization of the market.

This phenomenon will continue to create new opportunities for pension and investment consultants, fund research specialists, investment solutions experts and tech-savvy, cloud-aware administrators – those who work in ESG. and socially responsible investing being increasingly demanded.

Louise Powrie added: “Pension and investment consultants at all levels, but particularly those with between 5 and 10 years of experience will be in high demand in 2022. 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 a pool of London-based candidates is now a more feasible option for Edinburgh-based companies.

“However, economic disparities in salary levels and operating/living cost differences between Scotland and cities like London, will lead to significant business impacts for businesses based here. This may also lead to internal discussions difficult on the equal treatment of employees, with these employees at the same level, doing the same work, with different salaries, in different places.

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 salary guide is a report produced exclusively on the Scottish jobs market which compares salaries 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 key hub for large, globally-based investment operations firms, continuing the trend that began in the mid-1990s when firms began to relocate technically complex operational roles to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Core-Asset Consulting was established in 2005. Based in Edinburgh, it is now a £14 million business employing 22 people and working across the financial services industry, from the smallest boutiques to the most major global players.

Initially, the firm built a reputation in the world-class asset management industry in Scotland. However, the success of its model has allowed it to expand across the financial services market. It now has dedicated accounting, investment operations and finance teams and also works in Scotland’s thriving legal sector.

To sign up to receive a copy of the full Industry Trends Report and Salary Guide 2022/23, please visit: https://core-asset.co.uk/news-and-insight/resources/ employer-resources/salary-guide-2022-2023/

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