Certified Expert in ESG and Impact Investing

Frankfurt School of Finance & Management

How long?

  • 6 months
  • online

What are the topics?

Frankfurt School of Finance & Management


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Who should attend

Professionals and executives working in international DFIs, multilateral donor organizations, institutional investors, pension funds, insurance companies, asset and fund managers who want their investments to intentionally achieve positive impact and/or offer ESG compliant options to their clients, rating agencies and technical assistance providers, as well as financial institutions in emerging and developing countries that are required to explicitly target both financial and non-financial objectives.

About the course

Environment Social and Governance criteria (ESG) and Impact Investing have gained a lot of traction in recent years and will continue to do so in the (post-) Corona world. Calls for a green and socially equitable re-start are very prominent. The EU’s Green New Deal (“Green Deal”) and the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are good examples of how ESG criteria and ideas of Impact Investing are being incorporated into policy objectives.

International development agencies have embraced ESG and impact criteria to guide investment decisions, as have many family offices, investment vehicles and other institutional players, ranging from foundations and philanthropists to the private sector. ESG and Impact Investing are approaches to finance that are related to each other, although they may occupy different ends of the spectrum in terms of methodological intensity or operational mind-set.

Course Details

The Certified Expert in ESG & Impact Investing is designed as a six month, pure online programme. Participants should budget around 150 hours to complete the programme, complete all assignments and sit for the final exam.

Unit 1: Introduction and Overview: What are ESG Criteria and Impact Investing

This introductory unit provides you with an understanding of how ESG criteria and Impact Investing relate to traditional mainstream finance. It familiarises you with major stakeholders, initiatives, and approaches for integrating non-financial issues into the day-to-day activities of investing. Key concepts and themes are introduced, which establish foundations for a learning journey that will be expanded upon over the subsequent units.

Unit 2: Historical and Theoretical Context

ESG and Impact Investing are orientated within different operational contexts: from asset management, through direct investment, to advisory services, etc. This unit helps you understand what is relevant for your context, whilst also making you aware of other requirements you may encounter in adjacent parts of the industry. It contextualises the historical evolution and theoretical development of ESG and Impact Investing to show how they complement each other, and to demystify why some narratives about managing non-financial factors appear to be fragmented and conflicting. Conceptual structures are presented that help you apply theory to praxis via a unified framework.

Unit 3: Strategies for Measuring and Managing ESG Criteria and Impact

There are different strategic pathways available to managing ESG and impact factors. Each pathway represents a different level of methodological intensity. You will be introduced to the techniques and tools that are relevant for each, and learn how to choose the pathway that is most suitable for your needs or circumstances. This unit also clarifies how these strategic pathways align with operational mind-sets such as compliance, risk management, as well as proactively managing performance against non-financial goals.

Unit 4: Integrating ESG and Impact Management in the Investment Process

Each of the strategic pathways for managing ESG and impact can be integrated at every stage of the investment process: from deal sourcing and due diligence, through ongoing investment management, to final exit or contract maturity. These all follow the same high-level process that aligns with the Deming quality management cycle. This is applied with different levels of intensity and granularity depending on the strategic pathway being followed. You will learn how this process can be deployed across all asset classes, across publicly traded securities and private over-the-counter transactions, and by retail investors as well as institutional investors.

Unit 5: Specialised Financial Instruments and Legal Contracts that Integrate ESG and Impact

This unit starts with an introduction of traditional asset classes and financial instruments (a refresher for anyone familiar with both investing and philanthropy). You will learn how ESG and impact features are incorporated into financial instruments. This can be achieved either by enhancing traditional instruments with additional requirements and obligations, such as with Green Bonds; or by developing innovative instruments and hybrid models that introduce new contractual and financial arrangements, such as Social Impact Incentives.

Unit 6: Ratings, Indicators, Non-Financial Reporting and Data

There are currently no universally accepted standards for reporting non-financial information, although there are several voluntary frameworks and norms established by industry initiatives. You will learn about the key regulations and legal requirements that are currently in various stages of development, notably by the European Commission. The unit also covers key trends, selected best practice, and challenges to help you navigate the various ratings, labels, certifications, and evaluation methods that are available. The challenges and opportunities in data collection are outlined, which explains why information from different providers of data and ratings is often weakly correlated.

Unit 7: Elective Module

Participants choose one module from the following options. The unit will conclude with an assignment that is tailored to the option you choose.

7a Marketing, Fundraising and Sales – this option allows you to delve deeper into designing and presenting a product, fund, or other business idea for ESG and impact investing. It covers fund design, investor targeting, and how to present to investors.

7b Due Diligence – this option allows you to delve deeper into assessing investment opportunities. It covers the different tools available and how to take into account the market context, governance, legal form and business models, as well as planning an on-site visit.


Zacharias Sautner

Zacharias Sautner is Professor of Finance at Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. He was previously Associate Professor of Finance (with tenure) at the University of Amsterdam and Director of the Corporate Finance and Banking program at Duisenberg school of finance. Prior to that he work...

Karl Richter

Karl is the co-founder of EngagedX, which specialises in providing bespoke consultancy, thought leadership, advocacy and policy work. He works internationally across private, public and social sectors. He is an experienced entrepreneur, leader and executive. He was previously Head of Research an...

Lucie Charrier

Lucie Charrier is a Senior Financial Inclusion Expert with 15 years of experience in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle-East, Europe and Central Asia. Lucie Charrier is currently Senior Business Development Expert for the implementation of the Technical Assistance Programme of th...

Dina Lorentz

Dina Lorentz studied economic law focusing on finance and started her career as a consultant and investment banker specialized in the acquisition and respective valuation of financial institutions. She now works as a Business Development Manager Regulatory at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer dealin...

David Wilton

David supports on global fund sourcing and selection within impact investing. David has many years of experience in impact investing, having previously led pioneering impact investment programmes in emerging markets for the IFC and Morgan Stanley. He advises on emerging markets and sustainable in...

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Certified Expert in ESG and Impact Investing at Frankfurt School of Finance & Management

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