Interview with M. Merli about the new corporate chair Finance and Environmental Challenges

Interview de Martial Bellon

Until now, EMSBS has had seven active corporate chairs. A new one has just been launched this fall on the theme of finance and environmental issues, in partnership with CIC Marchés. We interviewed Maxime Merli, head of the chair, about the creation process and future endeavors.

Can you introduce the chair and its members?

Created in September 2022, the corporate chair "Finance and Environmental Challenges" will be funded for three years by a donation from CIC Marchés to the University of Strasbourg Foundation. The members of the chair include professors and doctoral students from different institutions who share a keen interest in this theme.

Steering committee:

  • Catherine D'Hondt - UCLouvain, Louvain School of Management (Codirector of Research)
  • Maxime Merli - EM Strasbourg Business School, University of Strasbourg (Director)
  • Joël Petey - Sciences Po Strasbourg, University of Strasbourg (Codirector of Finance Field)
  • Tristan Roger - ICN Business School (Codirector of Research)

PhD students:

  • Mariya Pulikova - EM Strasbourg Business School, University of Strasbourg
  • Estelle Hollanders - UCLouvain, Louvain School of Management

The steering committee also involves traders from CIC Marchés.


What are the motivations behind the creation of this corporate chair?

Despite the willingness of some players, there are still many obstacles to environmentally friendly finance (European classification to be refined; divergent environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria; problematic investment horizons; greenwashing). Through this chair, we seek to play a part in promoting finance that serves the environment and climate.

From an academic point of view, our recent research work is already focused on these themes. We have, in particular, obtained funding from the European Savings Institute and a grant from the Louis Bachelier Institute on the theme of ESG investments.

The two doctoral students involved in the project, namely Mariya Pulikova whom I have been supervising for the past two years, have dissertation topics on investor behavior with respect to responsible investments.

From a professional perspective, this partnership with CIC Marchés emerged from discussions with financial market professionals who regularly lecture in our master’s programs. Through this chair, they have chosen not only to support academic research on issues they are facing but also to support the development of training for students of finance.

To summarize, the objective of this chair is trifold:

  • provide significant support for the development of research in responsible and sustainable investments,
  • provide a platform for regular exchanges between market professionals and academics, and
  • raise student awareness of this theme and enable them to understand the issues related to “sustainable finance.”


What is the role of CIC Marchés in this project?

We have signed a three-year sponsorship agreement via the University of Strasbourg Foundation with CIC Marchés, which will be our sole partner over this period. Together, we have selected a few themes on which we will focus our attention. Mandatory impact measures and portfolio scores, the effectiveness of “sustainable” investments, or the divergence of ESG ratings and its impact on investment choices all come to mind. This will take the form of academic work, punctuated by regular meetings with the traders of CIC Marchés in order to exchange on our progress.

In addition, discussions will be organized between CIC Marchés professionals and students to allow the latter to understand the challenges of the vast field of sustainable finance. Finally, a second-year master’s student is already doing a co-op contract with CIC Marchés focused on green finance. All of these interactions maintain the link between the two institutions and aim to strengthen exchanges between professionals and academics, which is the prime goal of this chair.


What are the medium- and long-term objectives?

As our research work has only just begun, answering that question is difficult. We hope in the medium run that this collaboration will lead to academic publications. The current flurry of activity around these themes makes this exercise exciting but very complex. We also plan to showcase our work in mainstream media and of course to use this work in our teaching.

More generally, we want to position ourselves as a place for reflection, debate, and knowledge creation on sustainable finance issues. We aspire to build a real bridge between academics and professionals in order to help organizations in their transition toward more responsible and environmentally friendly investments.

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions !

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