Remember Stuart Kirk, head of “responsible” investing at HSBC who was suspended when he pointed out that climate risks were distant, irrelevant hyperbole? This was at once shocking impermissible and the bleeding obvious. He also dropped the bombshell that the central banker models of climate risks buried massive GDP shocks and interest rate rises so they could find the economic disasters they were looking for.
Thanks to the Streisand Effect of his suspension for a 16-minute speech, tens of thousands of people wrote to him to agree. But despite being such a drawcard HSBC didn’t appreciate his new popularity, and he has now resigned under duress. His letter says all the right things below. He’s a man to follow…
Stuart has now resigned his post, and issued this statement:
Today I wish to announce that I have resigned as global head of responsible investing at HSBC Asset Management.
Ironically given my job title, I have concluded that the bank’s behaviour towards me since my speech at a Financial Times conference in May has made my position, well, unsustainable.
Funny old world.
Over a 27-year unblemished record in finance, journalism and consulting I have only ever tried to do the best for my clients and readers, knowing that doing so helps my employer too.
Investing is hard. So is saving our planet. Opinions on both differ. But humanity’s best chance of success is open and honest debate. If companies believe in diversity and speaking up, they need to walk the talk. A cancel culture destroys wealth and progress.
There is no place for virtue signalling in finance. Likewise as a writer, researcher and investor, I know that words or trading shares can only achieve so much. True impact comes from the combination of real-world action and innovative solutions.
Which is why I’ve been gathering a crack group of like-minded individuals together to deliver what is arguably the greatest sustainable investment idea ever conceived. A whole new asset class. Sounds fanciful – but I am not one for hyperbole, as viewers of my presentation know well.
To be announced later this year, the first project will underline the central argument in my speech: that human ingenuity can and will overcome the challenges ahead, while at the same time offering huge investment opportunities.
Meanwhile, I will continue to prod with a sharp stick the nonsense, hypocrisy, sloppy logic and group-think inside the mainstream bubble of sustainable finance. Follow me on LinkedIn if you want to learn the right way to think about ESG – and let me tell you, most of what’s out there is bonkers.
Finally, can I take this opportunity to thank the tens of thousands of people – from chief executives and congressmen to scientists and mom and pop investors – who contacted me from around the world offering their support and solidarity over the past two months.
You have given me strength during what has been a tumultuous time for me and my family. It is for you that the next chapter in my career will be devoted. Please forward this to anyone you know who cares about money and planet earth.
That dangerous speech again.
July 9, 2022