In the days following Kirk’s ‘Miami’ speech, in which he questioned who would care if the city went six meters under water in a bid to demonstrate humanity’s ability to s adapting to changing environments, the HSBC group sought to distance itself from its employee.
HSBC suspends Stuart Kirk for ‘hyperbole’ speech on climate change – reports
The group’s chief executive, along with the chief executives of Wealth and Retail Banking and Global Asset Management, all publicly disavowed the speech, arguing that it does not reflect the group’s position on climate change. .
However, it has been reported by the FT this weekend that the presentation was signed off internally and was known to the company at least two months in advance, raising questions about the sincerity of its recent claims of climate benchmarks, and whether Kirk’s comments were as “thugs” they were made out.
Gavin Haynes, co-founder of Fairview Investing, noted that the speech was “clearly embarrassing for HSBC and at odds with the chief executive’s comments that the transition to net zero is of the utmost importance”, but given that had been agreed internally and made public by the company, it is “difficult to see how HSBC can claim that Stuart Kirk’s views were rogue and unauthorized”.
HSBC AM’s ‘irresponsible investment manager’ condemned for climate talk
Regardless of internal approval, Darius McDermott, managing director of Chelsea Financial Services, argued that the speech “was not the right message, especially for someone in this position”, adding that it was not “not surprising” to see him suspended.
Bank on our Future campaign manager Beau O’Sullivan argued the internal backlash had opened a “new Pandora’s box” for HSBC, questioning what was happening at the world’s seventh largest bank.
“The bank must now explain how these offensive and inaccurate comments were approved, the extent to which other senior managers share Kirk’s views, and what kind of culture HSBC is engendering that has allowed the comments to pass unchallenged,” a- he declared.
“More broadly, this is another massive blot on HSBC’s climate reputation, which it has been working to restore recently.”
“Who cares if Miami is six meters under water in 100 years?
Julia Dreblow, founding director of SRI Services, described the comments as “quite extraordinary” and an indicator that “something is seriously wrong” if a senior responsible investment official at a bank that promotes its climate credentials was able to deliver the speech he made. .
“He is fully entitled to his opinions, some of which I agree with, but part of his role must be to help his employer manage climate risk and promote HSBC,” she said. “It seems unlikely that he will commit to either.
“My biggest question, given that the presentation was pre-approved and has now been put on hold: Does HSBC’s compliance team not understand climate risk?
“Or did someone make the decision to let Mr. Kirk seal his own fate?”