Masterclass in Sustainable Finance - Retail Financial Services

Course Director: John Ditchfield, Chairman and Co-Founder, Impact Lens.


Retail investors and savers make up a considerable part of the global financial market, influencing the supply of sustainable investment products and services. Market developments and research highlight a growing trend among retail investors who are increasingly seeking to understand the impact of their investments on the world.

By 2030, everyday (retail) investors are expected to account for over 61% of global assets under management. Policymakers and regulators should actively engage with retail markets due to their significant collective financial influence. Effectively channelling the power of individual investors can drive companies to adopt sustainable practices, injecting renewed urgency into sustainability goals throughout the economy. 

In response, continued efforts by regulators and policymakers to better define sustainable investments and address greenwashing risks would lead to more reliable measurements and a shift towards a more sustainable financial system. Civil society organisations must also take an interest in retail markets to leverage their influence as a lever for societal change. By promoting awareness, transparency, and inclusivity in retail finance, these organisations can not only empower consumers to redirect financial flows toward sustainable initiatives but also advocate for more socially responsible business practices. Focusing on retail markets enables global advocacy for sustainable finance and community engagement, contributing to positive environmental and social impact and advancing a more inclusive financial system.


This course will provide attendees (i.e. policymakers, regulators, and civil society actors) with an understanding of the retail market for sustainable finance and investment, the state of the market (globally but with a particular reference to the UK and EU), and reflect on the opportunities to enhance the market so it can work better for consumers and sustainability outcomes. We will analyse key concepts from the perspective of retail investors, such as impact investing, thematic investing, and responsible investing. Looking at practical examples of how fund groups commercialise these concepts, we will consider the recent history and development of the sustainable finance industry. We will also consider several practical case studies, such as engagement work and fund products as well as other services (Discretionary Investment Management). Course participants will gain an understanding of the recent Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Sustainability Disclosure Requirements and the likely impact of the new labelling regime. 


  • Session one, History and Development of the Sustainable Finance Industry – Tuesday 7 May 2024, 12.00-13.30 BST
  • Session two, Regulation and the development of a mainstream sustainable financial industry – Tuesday 14 May 2024, 12.00-13.30 BST
  • Session three, Understanding the range of products and services UK focus – Tuesday 21 May 2024, 12.00-13.30 BST


  • Free


Places on this course are strictly limited to those who have primary employment in:

  • central or local government
  • regulatory agencies
  • supervisory authorities
  • central banks
  • multilateral institutions
  • non-profit civil society organisations
  • registered charities
  • philanthropic organisations


Evidence of this may be requested and required.

To apply please complete the application form, for both individual and group bookings. We aim to respond within 14 working days of receipt of the application.


By the end of this Masterclass, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the development and growth of sustainable and responsible  investment
  • Understand how the retail market for sustainable and responsible investment is regulated, using the UK and Europe as mature case studies to explore what this might mean for other jurisdictions
  • Analyse the risks of “greenwashing” in the retail market, focusing on examples provided
  • Discuss and comment on the range of sustainable products and services available to investors
  • Describe some of the frameworks and tools commonly used to measure and report impacts, and identify key organisations and approaches involved
  • Distinguish between public and private market activity
  • Develop awareness of major stakeholders in the global sustainable investment industry
  • Explain the key concepts such as impact investing, responsible investment, and Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) investing.
  • Describe the opportunities and challenges for sustainable and responsible investment.


Session one

  • History and development of the market- key terms and concepts
  • The scale of the retail market and how this differs from private market activity
  • Introducing fund and investment products- OEICs, Investment Trusts and SICAVs

Session two

  • Regulation and the impact of regulation on the retail advice and fund management market, understanding greenwashing risks
  • With the UK as a case study, this session will explore the Trustees Act 2000 and the development of sustainable investing for Charities and Trusts
  • Private equity investing within the retail market

Session three

  • Understanding responsible investment funds; key terms and concepts in responsible finance
  • Measuring financial performance and benchmarking- who’s “winning”?
  • Impact measurement methodologies and approaches, using the UK and EU as key lessons
  • Student exercise on investment funds research

Download Course Brochure

OxSFG was established in 2012 and is a multidisciplinary research centre working to be the world’s best place for research and teaching on sustainable finance and investment. We work globally across asset classes, finance professions, and with different parts of the financial system.