Gustavo Bernal Torres
Asset Managers Divided by HSBC Executive’s Climate Criticism
Stuart Kirk’s speech has won plaudits for prompting debate, but drawn criticism for downplaying risks.
Hendrik du Toit, chief executive officer at asset manager Ninety One, said: “This has given us all food for thought and encouraged healthy debate around the biggest existential topic of our time. It doesn’t change the fact that we need to address the climate challenge that impacts the vast majority of the world’s population and resonates far beyond the S&P 500.”
“Who cares if Miami is six metres underwater in 100 years?” asked Stuart Kirk, head of responsible investing at HSBC Asset Management, during an FT conference last week. “Amsterdam has been six metres underwater for ages, and that’s a really nice place. We will cope with it.” Many in the industry disagreed with the tone of Kirk’s speech. “Flippant, off-the-cuff remarks don’t do any favours,” said one executive. Another said: “He was maybe trying to be a bit too clever.” But some welcomed Kirk’s willingness to expose groupthink and highlight some of the inconsistencies of environmental, social and governance investing.