For those not quite at that level yet, a good salary and premium might come with the job, as strong demand hikes up remuneration in the specialist area.
A look at leading sustainability profiles at Swiss banks show that they are wary of hiring financial professionals who have veered too far away from banking. They prefer to lift employees with linear careers into these key positions. Credit Suisse’s Marissa Drew who stepped straight into the the Swiss bank’s sustainability chief role from investment banking, is a good example.
It might however take some more versatile candidates who don’t fit the typical Wall Street mold to drive the transition as sustainability moves from the fringes of organizations to their center. It could involve bringing in critics, who until now, have sat at the other side of the table.
«It is essential that banks learn that they need a more varied skill set for this radical transformation» WWF Switzerland’s chief executive Thomas Vellacott, who started his career as a private banker, says.
«At non-governmental organizations you learn that you cannot tackle issues alone and that you need to form alliances,» he adds.
Moral Imperative vs Business Case
Mainstream banks could learn from independent banks such as the Alternative Bank Switzerland, which have long made it their mission to use finance to deliver sustainable economic, social and environmental development.
«The main difference between mainstream banks and non-governmental organizations is that NGOs are purpose-driven,» whereas banks are business-driven, Martin Rohner, executive director at Global Alliance for Banking on Values, says.
«Sustainability needs to be a moral imperative to really bring about change,» Rohner says. «As long as banks adopt sustainability for its strategic rationale, to simply please clients with an affinity for these topics, it won’t make any difference. Not in the real economy,» he says.