The University of Exeter Business School has launched a new research centre focusing on sustainability in finance, an area experiencing huge growth within the financial sector.
Professor Chendi Zhang will be heading up the new Exeter Sustainable Finance Centre(ESF), which will draw on the University of Exeter Business School’s vast expertise in the areas of sustainability, finance, accounting, economics and management.
Sustainability was once considered a niche area in finance, but its growing importance has seen it catapulted into the mainstream as is now one of the main factors behind financial decision-making.
The centre will publish world-class research on areas of growing importance such as ESG (environmental, social and governance) investing.
An estimated 20-25% of the total of professionally managed assets are now done so according to ESG criteria, totalling trillions of dollars.
Professor Zhang is one of the academic pioneers to explore the economic impact of ESG investing.
In July, he published research revealing that ESG stocks in US firms performed well during the market crash sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Exeter Sustainable Finance Centre’s initial focus will be on producing research into the ESG factors in investment and financial decisions, and on how finance contributes to the solutions of global challenges such as climate change and rising inequality.
It will also look to develop a teaching focus with new undergraduate and postgraduate modules on sustainable and responsible finance. The centre will also reach out to engage with students, faculty and industry, holding talks and research events.
Professor Zhang said: “The Exeter Sustainable Finance Centre will focus on what is probably one of the biggest growth areas in finance.
“If you think 10-15 years ago sustainability in finance was a niche area, but now it’s entered the mainstream and will be considered one of the main factors in finance for years to come.
“I am very excited that the new ESF Centre will be at the forefront of these exciting new developments.”