A Transformative Internship: A 5-week delve into the world of Financial Policy, Regulation and Sustainable and Green Finance at the Chartered Banker Institute

  • Emily McDonald
  • 22 December 2023
  • Blog | 2025 Foundation | Career Development | Blog

As my 5-week internship draws to a close at the Chartered Banker Institute, I cannot deny that it has been an eye-opening experience. This internship has immersed me into a range of new areas of banking & finance such as policy, regulation, sustainability and green finance. Throughout the internship, I have been given the opportunity to engage in a wide variety of tasks whilst learning a plethora of new ideas, concepts, and skills. Learning from, and working alongside experts and experienced professionals has provided me valuable insights into the Institute’s work in driving positive change in banking. From writing blogs and briefings, to studying a new course, to meeting lots of new people, it has to be said that my experience at the Institute has been truly enjoyable and enriching!

An Exploration of Sustainability: What is it and How is it Relevant?

My internship commenced with me completing tasks to develop my understanding of one of the main topics underpinning my internship: sustainability. I was enabled to summarise and write briefings on Financial Stability Board (FSB) news, COP 28 objectives and ESG insights from legal commentators. This allowed me to view sustainability in banking through a legal lens, climate lens, and regulatory lens. I was then given the opportunity for educational development, through studying and attaining the Foundations of Green & Sustainable Finance course which highlighted the impactful way the institute develop their knowledge to align with current trends and real world issues. All of the aforementioned have equipped me with a broader understanding of sustainability and how it relates to a vast spectrum of sectors – particularly the financial sector.

Biodiversity and Actuarial Science: The IoFA Webinar

I was given the chance to attend the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) Biodiversity and Nature-Related Risks webinar. This gave me new insight into how the natural and financial world intersect, alongside how one of my degree subjects, Mathematics, could be applied to financial work to solve real world problems. I authored a blog post on the experience and my key takeaways from the webinar. This exercise ultimately enabled me to recognise more fully the ways in which the Institute is already driving positive change in the areas of Biodiversity and Nature-Related Risks.

Understanding the Standards: The New ISSB Inaugural Standards

I was given the chance to review the new ISSB inaugural standards, developing this briefing note into an explainer blog. This task allowed me to view the interconnectedness of sustainability and financial regulation, and particularly highlighted to me the complexities involved in implementing new standards. Specifically, that a one-size-fits-all approach to standard implementation is not always best.  One example of this are businesses which already have existing reporting standards in place, such as the those established under the Taskforce for Climate Related Disclosures (TCFD), could, in this particular instance, use a phased transition plan option.

The Cognitive Nexus of Artificial Intelligence and Sustainability

A particularly interesting aspect of my internship was investigating Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how it can be used to influence the sustainability scene. I was given the opportunity to write a blog post on my findings. I found it fascinating how this linked to the policy aspect of my internship. Through researching and reviewing an academic paper, I was able to assimilate how AI can be used to monitor climate related discussions on social media, and how this can help policymakers to better understand many of the barriers to full public engagement with climate policies and issues. This really demonstrated from an economics perspective how the technological revolution can be utilised for societal benefit and more specifically, to accelerate sustainability objectives. Contrastingly, I considered the detrimental impacts that could arise from increased automation and how it is important to consider how best to mitigate these negative impacts whilst harnessing the technology’s advantages.

The Chartered Banker Institute: Leading Pioneers for Responsible Banking

My internship also consisted of studying the UN Responsible Banking Principles, Principles for Responsible Investment, Sustainable Development Goals and the Chartered Banker Aide Memoire. I was also enabled to review and highlight any relevant or interesting content from The Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) and CityUK. I found being able to view the concepts underpinning my internship through a political lens to be fascinating. Additionally, I found learning the nuanced relationship between sustainability and human rights issues such as slavery and trafficking to be highly impactful.

This research allowed me to understand how the entirety of the Chartered Banker ethos aligns directly with other sustainability objectives and frameworks, and how important the work that the Institute undertakes is for society. This became particularly apparent when I reviewed and wrote summaries and briefings on the unreleased TNFD Beta v0.4 Framework. I then presented some key findings from my internship and how these link to, and are relevant to the Institute’s work to the Education and Training team. Ultimately, this revealed to me the symbiotic relationship between the Institute’s work and the tasks I had undertaken during the internship. This realisation highlighted the highly impactful role the Chartered Banker Institute play in fostering responsible and ethical banking practices, and the Institute’s dedication to shaping a sustainable and ethical financial landscape.

Encapsulating a Range of Skills: How This Internship has Been Amazing for Skill-set Development

During this internship I was given a fantastic opportunity to develop a range of skills necessary for a career in the financial sector. Using academic writing resources and help from Shona (Head of Policy & Regulation) and Nicola (Content Marketer), I was able to learn the different styles of writing and how to tailor my writing to suit that style – whether a blog post, webcast or academic paper. I was also given the opportunity for insight into events management and marketing with Heather (Marketing and Events Manager) to aid me in my extracurricular endeavours at university. Through presenting my findings, I was able to build my confidence and presentation skills. I also learned how to link content from various sources to draw conclusions (in this instance, about the ways my internship work is relevant to the Institute’s work and objectives).

Shona also provided me with excellent resources to improve my Microsoft Office competency. I was even able to enhance my creativity through using AI photo generators and photoshop to create backdrops with the Institute’s logo! The internship was a personalised experience which gave me understanding of how my degree disciplines can be practically applied to help solve real world problems. I enjoyed my team meetings and catch ups with Tanya (Executive Director) and Charlene (Head of People Hub). The help and support they offered throughout the internship has been  invaluable, and the meetings allowed me additional opportunities to present my task findings.

I was also given the chance to experience blended learning, by working both from home and in the HQ in Edinburgh (which I must say is an extremely impressive office!) Through this experience, I met a lot of new people, and particularly enjoyed getting to know members of the Institute through my lunches at Franca Manca and Fletchers! I also thoroughly enjoyed attending the Town Hall meeting held by Simon (Chief Executive), which I found to be very interesting and engaging, as it enabled me to learn some of the things the Institute have been getting up to recently. Even though staff can work from home, the fact that these meetings take place online on a regular basis reemphasised to me the strong collaborative environment, strong communication and excellent culture the Institute has.

In conclusion, I am extremely grateful and would like to say a huge thank you to everyone at the Chartered Banker Institute for all the help and support they have offered to me via the 2025 Foundation (including Moira (CPD Manager), Eileen (2025 Programme Coordinator) my mentor Ian (Director of Portfolio Management at RBS). I would also like to thank the Institute for all the help they have given to me throughout this unparalleled internship experience. The support, guidance and hospitality of the entire team were instrumental in shaping a fantastic experience all round.

I would like to say a special thank you to Shona for her continued support, help, insight and guidance in making this the best experience possible and putting together a workplan which provided me with an array of amazing opportunities (all of which were cleverly intertwined to give me a great all round learning experience!). I have gained so much from my time working with Shona and learning from her expertise. I believe that the entire learning experience of this internship will carry me into my second year at university and beyond, by continuing to shape my perspective on responsible banking and sustainable finance. Many thanks again!