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A chair to promote teaching and research in sustainable finance

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Published on Thursday, 25 November 2021

The University of Luxembourg, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development and the Ministry of Higher Education and Research celebrate the first anniversary of the Chair and research programme in Sustainable Finance. The chair was launched in 2020 to drive teaching and research in the area of sustainable finance. It is hosted at the University’s Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance, under the coordination of Prof Michael Halling.

Sustainability has become a core dimension of business activities and public institutions, and the finance industry increasingly integrates sustainability in the design of their products and services. This development creates new requirements for graduates. The chair and research programme will contribute to a sustainable and inclusive economic system in Luxembourg, to export scientific knowledge internationally and to train graduates who will excel in sustainable finance.

Educating tomorrow’s green finance professionals

The chair includes a track in Sustainable Finance in the second year of the MSc in Finance and Economics. The Sustainable Finance Track has been designed by academics and industry professionals with experience in modelling and managing sustainability risks, performing ESG (Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance) due-diligence of investments and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) reports. Since 2020, 43 students of this Master registered for the track. Students will be equipped with the latest knowledge on climate-related financial risks, as well as the expertise and networks to design practical solutions for measuring and managing these risks.

Other teaching initiatives supported by the chair include an executive training for established finance professionals as well as the life-long learning programme Certificate in Sustainable Finance. 16 students registered for the first Certificate in May 2021. 

Fostering research in sustainable finance

The research programme implemented by the chair focuses on fundamental and applied research in sustainable finance. Currently, eight research projects are running, covering diverse topics such as ESG disclosure and financial reporting, carbon risk measurement and management of mutual funds, or risk and returns of ESG investor activism.

Through regular public conferences, the chair will encourage dialogue with financial and public stakeholders. Since the chair’s inception in 2020, several virtual outreach events were held and efforts on larger on-site events are ongoing.

It will also promote knowledge exchange through the development of international collaborations with stakeholder networks and partner institutions to foster research collaborations. The Faculty aims to create a National Centre of Excellence in Research in the area of Sustainable Finance, integrating relevant research in law, economics, finance and other relevant research disciplines.

“The Department of Finance at the Faculty has the expertise required to accompany and support Luxembourg’s sustainable finance transformation,” states Prof. Katalin Ligeti, Dean of the Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance. “We train a new generation of leaders in these emerging fields, helping to ensure that the Luxembourg financial hub remains at the forefront of innovation.”

“The University is extremely grateful for the support of the ministries that has enabled the creation of this chair,” states Prof. Stéphane Pallage, Rector of the University. “It is important for society to integrate the sustainability perspective in its plans and activities. The chair will provide guidance and push the frontiers of knowledge in this domain. The University has a key role to play in the advancement of sustainable finance and governance. The chair is at the heart of our strategy framework which identified sustainable and societal development as one of the three main challenges to which the University should contribute.”

Pierre Gramegna, Minister of Finance, says: “Finance is undergoing a tremendous systemic change to integrate sustainability into its processes. The Chair in Sustainable Finance is vital because we need to educate not only our future financial professionals, but also our current employees. With the research planned as part of the Chair, we can accompany financial institutions in their successful transition to sustainable finance. We need not only to finance green projects, we must also green finance.”

“Re-orienting financial flows is crucial to achieving our sustainability and climate goals,” states Carole Dieschbourg, Minister of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development. “The Chair and research programme in Sustainable Finance will contribute to developing a good talent base in sustainable finance, and advance our ability to develop financial products that are transparent, backed by reliable data, and impactful. I am happy to have the University of Luxembourg as a partner in this challenge, and welcome the increased interplay between sciences and finance.”

“As Minister in charge of the University of Luxembourg, but also as a member of the government, I am particularly pleased with the support of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development through this Chair,” explains Claude Meisch, Minister for Higher Education and Research. “This initiative is a perfect example of a concrete response and a demand, respectively an example of anticipation of the needs of an economic sector in full evolution, namely the financial sector.”

About Michael Halling

Michael Halling, Chairholder in Sustainable Finance, joined the Faculty in 2021. His research ranges from empirical asset pricing and asset management, over empirical corporate finance and capital structure, to sustainable finance and fintech.

He has taught a broad portfolio of courses in finance at various institutions including the University of Vienna, the University of Utah, and the Stockholm School of Economics, where he also was the Head of the MISTRA Financial Systems Research Program. He has experience teaching at all academic levels including executive education and graduate PhD courses. At the Stockholm School of Economics, he won the ‘Teacher of the Year’ award for master-level courses and at the executive level.

Michael Halling holds a PhD in Finance from the University of Vienna and a PhD in Computer Science from the Vienna University of Technology.

© University of Luxembourg / Photo: Sophie Margue