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Retooling for a cleaner world - banking style

ESG bankers' dirty little secret

It’s easy to say what you are doing, it’s a bit harder to say what you need to be doing, and it’s even harder to actually do it. When it comes to ESG, banks should be advising companies on the energy transition, training specialists in the sector and hiring interns. 

But, in fact ESG-based internships are few and far between. So, where do the bankers working in ESG come from?

Oil and gas, apparently. Jason Moore, co-founder of search firm Harrington Moore, says bankers traditionally focused on carbon-intensive energy clients are often the new renewables specialists.

It's about their "sector expertise and topical knowledge," he says, and senior energy bankers already have relationships with clients managing the transition. They can "talk to them on the right topics," he notes.

If you're an oil and gas banker, re-badging as an ESG specialist can be a survival mechamism. When Deutsche Bank trimmed its oil & gas business in London and New York a few years ago, it kept on Thibaud De Maria – a French banker who had joined from Goldman Sachs just seven months previously. De Maria became head of energy transitions for the German bank.

De Maria has just left DB to become JPMorgan’s head of “green economy banking” in EMEA - a good place to be, given that McKinsey & Co says the future of banking is ESG. “It’s definitely a good time to transition,” says Moore.

Time for making the move into ESG from traditional energy sectors may be running out. "In 12 to 24 months, it will be a much more established market,” predicts Moore; ESG will have specialist bankers of its own.

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AUTHORZeno Toulon

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