The financial crisis, investments in cluster bombs or speculations on rising food prices show that today the Gordon Gekko mindset of “Greed is good” is still prevailing in the majority of the financial industry. This entails negative aspects such as environmental pollution, social exploiting or unethical business practice – all for the sake of a higher return.
On the other hand society and parts of the economy realize that those practices are not sustainable; neither in an environmental, nor a social or economical dimension. Therefore the interest of consumers in sustainable and responsible investment was met by new, more sustainable investment possibilities, which are nowadays even offered by major financial institutions. But unfortunately not all of those investment possibilities are sustainable, but rather marketing.
In order to positively influence todays investment landscape, two things need to be assured: First, more intrinsic motivation to become sustainable within the financial industry has to evolve. Second, consumers need to know more about sustainable investment to be able to spot real sustainability (as opposed to “marketing based sustainable investment”).
As a student organisation, our approach on how to influence those two aspects is as followed: Our vision is to create a mindset for sustainable investment at the University of St. Gallen! By doing so we can reach out to students who are not only potential buyers of sustainable investment products, but also future bankers and executives. Therefore we can impact the demand side of sustainable investment products and also reach out to students who could actively make the financial industry more sustainable from the supply side when starting their professional career.
The implementation of our vision is split into two steps: First, a university course about sustainable investing will be established at the University of St. Gallen in order to raise awareness and foster knowledge among the students. In the long term, this shall be used as a fundament to offer students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in an investment process which is held under real conditions and considers the criteria of sustainability.