HSBC figure who challenged climate change forecast resigns

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The saga sheds light on the extent to which dissent from certain climate change ideas will be tolerated in the banking industry.

A senior HSBC executive who accused central bankers and officials of exaggerating financial risks attributed to climate change has resigned.

Stuart Kirk, the global chief investment officer at the Hong Kong/UK-listed bank, was reportedly suspended in May after he said in a speech: “There’s always some weirdo talking to me about the end of the world “.

On his Linkedin page, London-based Kirk wrote: “Today I want to announce that I have stepped down as Global Head of Responsible Investment at HSBC Asset Management. Ironically, given my title, I have concluded that the bank’s behavior towards me since my speech at a Financial Times conference in May has made my position, well, untenable.

“Investing is hard. So is saving our planet. Opinions on the two differ. But humanity’s best chance for success lies in open and honest debate. If businesses believe in diversity and speak out, they must lead by example. A culture of cancellation destroys wealth and progress,” Kirk wrote. “There is no place for virtue signaling in finance. Likewise, as a writer, researcher, and investor, I know that words or business actions can do little. The real impact comes from the combination of concrete actions and innovative solutions. »

HSBC declined to comment to this news service on this.

The story highlights the extent to which banks and other wealth managers believe they must curb dissent that man-made global warming and other related issues require drastic action, even if it imposes high costs. The trend of environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing is now well entrenched. For a wealth management firm, not emphasizing its ESG credentials is borderline dangerous, especially as companies try to win business from younger, more supposedly ESG-conscious clients.

HSBC reviewed Kirk’s remarks during a presentation titled “Why Investors Don’t Need to Worry About Climate Risk” at a conference. He reportedly said climate change was “not a financial risk we need to worry about”.

Such comments run counter to much of the narrative of financial institutions and other bodies that argue that the world must give up its dependence on fossil fuels because the cost of not doing so outweighs the benefits of using these fuels.

The episode raises questions about the extent to which a sort of “cancel culture” – to use a widely used term – is affecting financial services. Some investment industry figures believe the situation is spiraling out of control and the stakes have risen since energy bills soared. In the United States, a new financial company, Strive, has been created by Vivek Ramaswamy, who made money in pharmaceutical start-ups before writing a book last year called “Woke, Inc.”

Following Kirk’s speech, the bank’s group chief executive, Noel Quinn, reportedly said he “strongly disagreed” with his remarks, adding that they were “inconsistent with the strategy of HSBC and do not reflect the views of the senior management of HSBC or HSBC”. Asset Management”.

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