ESG – Is It a World Savior or Just a Vague Sales Term?
20.11.2023, Annukka Oksanen
Staying up to date on the latest Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations and understanding the implications of the European Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) on the sale and marketing of investment products is vital for investment and asset management professionals. The regulatory requirement is for professionals in these fields to be either qualified Investment Service Professionals or Investment Advisers, and these certifications are what our APV1 and APV2 courses deliver. We also run various topical seminars and online courses for investment and asset management professionals.
Those in more specialized positions can seek Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) certification or obtain a Certified European Financial Analyst (CEFA) diploma through us. In addition to the above, we provide programs for aspiring specialists in private equity and venture capital, responsible investment, and ESG analysis.
Regular training and retraining is the best way to build your investment expertise. Which one of our programs would suit you best? Look at what we have to offer and find the program that is right for you.
Download a portfolio brochure and compare investing programs.
16.08.2023, Annika Rautakoura
Financial management’s ability to provide essential information in support of decision-making is a key factor in for the success of an organization. The main task of the entire financial management function has become a strategic partner for the management, rather than merely supporting everyday activities. Comparably it is essential for the business executives to be able to interpret and apply financial information in leading the business and operations.
Aalto EE provides financial management training for all organizational levels and a wide range of needs. We help both organizations and individual experts to develop their financial and financing expertise; we also enhance the capabilities of financial managers to lead and develop financial organizations. For business executives we provide tools for gaining a deep understanding of the financial perspective, to support of decision-making.
We provide variety of trainingsolutions for financial executives and other financial management experts, such as business controllers and analyst and other key employees working at different levels of an organization. Our training helps participants to modernize their organization's financial operations to meet future requirements, and to develop their own skills with a view to adopting a more strategic role as influential business partners for executive management.
To make well-founded and successful decisions on issues such as investments or pricing, executives need to be familiar with basic financial principles and key applications. Basic economic literacy and understanding of key economic figures also play a decisive role in strategic planning, as well as when weighing up alternatives for the future direction of, and defining success factors for, a business.
As global competition intensifies, companies regard continuous operational streamlining as vital to their competitiveness. Financial management is also expected to engage in the continuous streamlining of functions. In many organizations, basic financial management has been outsourced and global service centers are proliferating in low labor-cost countries.
While streamlining their operations, financial functions are also being expected to make a deeper and more strategic contribution to supporting and developing business activities.
Digitalization has rapidly transformed business activities. It has created new types of service and business models as well as new, unprecedentedly effective methods and tools for value creation.
Digitalization has also transformed financial management functions and markedly reformed practices. The pace of change continues to increase. The proliferation of automation and software robotics has accelerated data management and greatly reduced the number of human errors. Digitalization is enhancing basic financial management functions and improving accuracy and quality. Work that is independent of time and place has made work processes more flexible.
Automation of the routine tasks will free up resources for the analysis and integration of data."
With some justification, the digitalization of financial management and automation of many basic tasks are a cause of concern among financial managers. They also offer financial management experts the opportunity to use their expertise to solve complex problems, thereby generating more value for businesses. Wherever the automation of financial management reduces the human input needed in routine tasks, it will free up resources for the analysis and integration of data, while enabling a genuine focus on supporting business operations and evaluating new commercial opportunities.
However, the pressure is also mounting to develop the skills and competencies needed to succeed in this new role. Automation is leading to major changes in the job descriptions and skills required of financial managers and professionals. A new way of thinking and openness to adopting new types of work and changing practices are needed. Both organizations and individuals are responsible for developing processes and know-how to meet the growing expectations directed towards an organization's financial management.
As the role of financial management changes, job descriptions and skills requirements are being transformed. A key skill is the ability to understand the relationship between financial performance and the performance of various business functions. In turn, this requires closer cooperation between financial management and other business units, in which the financial management expert primarily supports decision-making and operational management. No longer a mere producer of reports and data masses for decision-makers, the financial function is an active user and interpreter of information. The focus is shifting towards the perception and analysis of future opportunities instead of reporting historical data.
The focus is shifting towards the perception and analysis of future opportunities instead of reporting historical data."
A growing number of international rules and regulations are arising with respect to financial management and financing. Financial experts must be able to upgrade their skills and knowledge of topical issues concerning matters such as taxation, transfer pricing and international accounting standards.
While the perception and management of financial risks involve the mastery of regulations and international legislation, other business risks and their management are receiving greater emphasis in the everyday work of financial and financing experts. To prevent unpleasant surprises, in addition to identifying business opportunities financial management needs to spot potential risks and uncertainties that may disrupt business activities. This requires skill upgrades, the active following of trends and the monitoring of international economic cycles and political developments.
Deeper insight is needed into the hidden causes and effects behind financial figures, as well as the formation of phenomena such as customer value."
As the role of the financial function becomes more strategic, financial management and experts will need deeper business know-how and a broader vision of commercial success factors. Numerical skills are no longer sufficient - deeper insight is needed into the hidden causes and effects behind financial figures, as well as the formation of phenomena such as customer value.
As the role of financial experts changes, cooperation, interaction and communications skills, and tools for shaping opinions, are growing in importance. Financial experts need to collaborate with other departments and colleagues in gathering and analyzing the relevant data from multiple sources. The ability to distinguish essential information from the data mass, summarize it and present it intuitively and persuasively to management and colleagues is taking center stage.
The financial function is an internal service provider with the task of promoting and supporting the success of an enterprise. In addition, outstanding service-mindedness will be increasingly required from the financial professionals of the future.
Let us help you to find the best solutions for you and your company. Please contact Mari Rauhala for customized programs.
You may also be interested in these themes
Advanced Management Built Environment DigitalizationFinance Human Resource ManagementIndustrial Engineering and Management Innovation, Service Design and Design ThinkingLeadership and Strategy Marketing, Sales and CommunicationProject ManagementQuality, Lean and Lean Six SigmaSecuritySocial Welfare and Health CareSustainability
The last few years have seen an awakening among Finnish households to the possibilities of investing and asset management in combating over-indebtedness on the one hand and preparing for changes in circumstances on the other. The rapid rise in the number of investment service providers and the diversification of investment options have made investing accessible to everyone. Legislative reforms have also helped to make investing safer and easier.
Finns are traditionally cautious spenders who save for a rainy day and tie their money up in real estate and low-yield investments such as savings accounts. However, a clear shift has emerged in attitudes toward stocks and shares and investing in general over the decades. The Finnish Business and Policy Forum’s Values and Attitudes Survey of October 2019 found 62% of the respondents agreeing with the statement that, despite the risks involved, investing offers an excellent way to increase the prosperity of both private citizens and the national economy as a whole.
With more and more Finns jumping on the bandwagon of investing, investment service providers need to be savvier than ever before. The next generation of service providers will have to be able to offer not only a competitive range of investment products but also advice to novices and seasoned investors alike.
The mission of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) is to promote effective and consistent regulation and oversight of the EU securities market, enhance investor protection, foster the integrity, transparency and efficiency of financial markets, and ensure fair competition.
Financial market regulation provides comprehensive protection for investors and clients of banks, investment firms, fund management companies and alternative investment fund managers. Investment service providers have a legal obligation to follow the applicable know-your-customer (KYC) as well as anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CTF) rules. There is also a separate regulatory framework designed specifically for the provision of investment services, which consists of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) and the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation (MiFIR), and aims to ensure that investors are provided with correct and comprehensive information about investment products.
As well as these, investment service providers have an obligation to observe the regulations of the Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority and an ethical code of conduct in relation to their clients otherwise.
The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) and the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation (MiFIR), which entered into force in early 2018, combine to form an intricate regulatory framework aimed, above all, at improving investor protection and increasing the transparency of trading. Harmonized rules also play an important role in allowing trading venues and investment service providers to operate throughout the European Union.
Investment service providers have an obligation to ensure that every member of their customer service team is qualified and competent to provide advice on individual investment products and investing in general. We prepared ourselves for the adoption of MiFID II by designing an online training concept based on the requirements of the Directive and guidelines issued by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) back in September 2017. The concept caters to all investment professionals and consists of three online courses and two competency tests focusing on the national economy and financial markets, procedures in the provision of investment services, investment products and taxation. There are also two competency tests on investment products and the provision of investment advice.
Maintaining competence is a life-long process, which is why we have already compiled a number of “Carry On” modules based on MiFID II and ESMA guidelines. Our online courses are designed to be the next step after completing the “License to Operate” MiFID II program; we call this level of advanced learning “License to Carry On”. Our “Carry On” courses cover appropriateness assessment, investment service roles, taxation, ethics and responsibility, suitability assessment, disclosure obligations and product management.
A new law on equity savings accounts, which entered into force at the start of 2020, has played an important role in making investing more and more commonplace. Equity savings accounts have been portrayed in the media as a new way to invest directly in equity and an especially useful tool for actively trading long-term investors. The biggest benefit lies in the fact that dividends and therefore tax only become payable when funds are withdrawn from the account. Long-term investors can therefore take advantage of a phenomenon known as compound interest.
Although we are forty years behind our western neighbor Sweden (which has had similar investment savings accounts since the 1970s), this “new” vehicle is a welcome step forward in encouraging people to get involved in investing and asset management. Providers of these accounts have been staggered by the amount of interest. It remains to be seen whether equity savings accounts are just a passing fad or whether the change in Finns’ attitudes toward investment is for good.
Another exciting phenomenon that is gaining momentum is private equity, which has become increasingly popular in Finland in recent years. Private equity is capital invested in a company or other entity that is not publicly listed or traded. Venture capital is a form of private equity where funding is given to startups or other young businesses that show potential for long-term growth.
In these cases, the entrepreneur or seller usually relinquishes the majority share of their business to the venture capitalist. The idea is not for the investor to keep ownership of the business long-term, however, but to sell up in accordance with an agreed exit plan. The investor is looking for the biggest possible financial return on their investment at the time of the exit. What makes venture capital so attractive as a form of funding is the professional approach that the investor brings to growing the business as well as the investor’s expertise and contacts.
Expertise is key in the venture capital market, as it has a direct impact on the size of the return; it, therefore, pays to keep building competence through training. This can be done, for example, through a special training course run by Aalto EE and the Finnish Venture Capital Association called “Fundamentals of Venture Capital & Private Equity”.
As Pia Santavirta, Managing Director of the Finnish Venture Capital Association, told the Aalto Leaders’ Insight newsletter: “Competence is a venture capitalist’s greatest asset”.
According to an interview given in the Aalto Leaders’ Insight newsletter by Aalto University Professor of Finance Markku Kaustia, global knowledge plays a bigger role in the investment sector than in many other specialized industries. Along with having global insight, investment professionals need a comprehensive and broad approach and the ability to provide business analyses that deliver added value. The individual shares you buy today are not that important in the scheme of overall portfolio management. More important than a single buy recommendation, or following the performance of a specific company, is the ability to manage the portfolio as a whole: coming up with a strategy that is right for the investor, determining the right risk level, and taking measured risks. “Deciding whether any particular risks are under control or not sounds simple, but it is anything but easy,” Kaustia points out.
Aalto EE teamed up with the Finnish Society of Financial Analysts in 2019 to start running Certified European Financial Analyst (CEFA) courses and boost global investment competence. The CEFA diploma is a prestigious, industry-recognized qualification for European investment and financial professionals looking to improve, complement and maintain their analysis expertise. The course consists of four challenging modules covering 10 key areas of the industry. Course attendees who pass all the exams and complete the required work experience obtain the right to use the title of CEFA.
The diploma has been developed by the European Federation of Financial Analysts Societies (EFFAS), of which one of the members is the Finnish Society of Financial Analysts. CEFA courses have been run in Finland for over 20 years, and more than 400 investment professionals have bagged themselves prestigious credentials.
Sustainability has become one of the hottest global topics, with almost every industry getting involved. Sustainability is also an important trend in the world of investment and asset management. Responsible investment is on a rapid rise, as exemplified by the growth of the number of signatories to the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) to more than 2,000 investors worldwide. The combined invested assets of these investors are worth more than USD 80,000 billion. The most notable Finnish institutional investors and asset managers are also among the members of sustainability forums and/or PRI signatories.
Responsible investing may sound like a daunting prospect. There are endless options, approaches and tools to choose from. The concept is also often confused with ethical investing and outdated beliefs about returns and methods. Finance Finland’s responsible investment survey recently found that 51% of the respondents were interested not only in financial returns but also the impact of their investments on the environment and society.
The popularity of responsible investing is well deserved, and for private and institutional investors to be able to make investments in line with their own values and sustainability preferences, experts in the field must understand different investment products from a sustainability perspective. Aalto EE runs a training program focusing on responsible investment and ESG analysis, which introduces investment and finance professionals to different sustainable investment strategies and provides useful information about the sustainability of different asset categories, assessing the risks and opportunities involved in investing and measuring impact.
The program is designed to increase understanding of the components of sustainability and how it affects, for example, the choice of business model or the various aspects of an organization’s business. The program also touches on the wider implications of responsible investment on society, the environment and people, and provides tangible examples of the kind of difference that responsible investments can make.
Satisfying competence requirements requires continuous learning and retraining. Global knowledge plays a bigger role in the investment sector than in many other specialized industries, and the importance of international contacts and competence, responsible investment, and digitalization is only set to increase. Life-long learning is critical for anyone who wants to stay in the game.
There are clear basic requirements that everyone in the investment industry must satisfy. For investment advisors and asset managers, the foundation lies in KYC and AML/CTF competence and knowledgeable provision of investment services. There is also a wide range of other certifications and credentials that professionals in the industry can pursue, depending on their area of expertise and job description as well as the legal requirements associated with their role. Life-long learning is also vital for keeping up with the competition.