This Week’s People Moves: GFI Interim Chair, Advisory Board Appointed

ESG Investor’s weekly round-up of new hires in the sustainable investing sector including the GFI, Net Zero Banking Alliance, OCC, LAM, BlueBay AM and Maple-Brown Abbott. 

Emma Howard Boyd CBE has been appointed Interim Chair of the UK’s Green Finance Institute (GFI) with immediate effect. This follows the death of the institute’s founding Chair Sir Roger Gifford in May. With over 25 years of experience in corporate finance and fund management, Boyd will further drive the GFI’s work ahead of COP26 in November while working with the institute’s board to appoint a permanent Chair, expected to result in an official announcement in early 2022. “Sir Roger’s work to help investors address the greatest challenge of our time has never been more important and I am committed to helping the GFI continue his legacy,” said Boyd. The GFI also announced the formation of its advisory board. Consisting of eight environmental and sustainability leaders, the board will provide strategic advice and support to the institute. Members include: Fiona Reynolds (CEO of the UN-convened Principles for Responsible Investment); Sarah Breeden (Executive Director of Financial Stability, Strategy and Risk at the Bank of England); and Sheldon Mills (Executive Director of Consumers and Competition for the Financial Conduct Authority). “COP26 in November provides a crucial moment to make real progress on mobilising capital towards tackling climate change, protecting nature and biodiversity, and creating a just post-Covid recovery. The immense experience in green finance and environmental leadership Boyd and the advisory board members bring to the GFI will be key to ensure we continue to channel capital at pace and scale towards real economy outcomes that create jobs and increase prosperity for all,” said Rhian Mari-Thomas OBE, GFI CEO.

The UN-convened Net Zero Banking Alliance has appointed a 12-member steering group and Chair to oversee its strategy. The steering group includes: Amalgamated Bank, Bank of America, HSBC, Morgan Stanley and Standard Chartered. Standard Chartered has been nominated as Chair of the Alliance. Simon Connell, Global Head of Sustainability Strategy for Standard Chartered, will be Chair of the Representative role, whereas Tracey McDermott, Group Head of Conduct, Financial Crime and Compliance for Standard Chartered, will be Chair of the Principal role. The Principal level concerns meeting with c-suite delegates to ensure net zero strategies are embedded at the heart of organisations. The Representative level concerns working-level delegates tackling the on the ground practicalities of delivering on net zero commitments. The new governance will allow the Alliance to both better align members’ lending and investment portfolios with net-zero by 2050 targets through increased accountability. “The Alliance is a critical force in accelerating the banking sector’s support for transition of the global economy to net-zero emissions, in line with a 1.5°C scenario. This strong governance structure will allow us to build consensus, take a global view, and drive the strategy forward in order to reinforce and support members’ and their clients’ decarbonisation strategies,” said Connell. The Alliance was launched in April and has grown from 43 founding banks to 53 members across 27 countries with US$37 trillion in total assets.

The US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has appointed Darris Benhart as its Climate Change Risk Officer and has joined the Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System (NGFS). Having first joined the OCC in 1992, Benhart most recently held a role in the OCC’s Large Bank Supervision as a member overseeing the Bank of America. He has also previously served as Deputy Comptroller for Supervision Risk Management, in which part of his responsibility was to Chair the OCC’s National Risk Committee. As the prudential regulator of approximately 70% of the US commercial banking system, the OCC has joined the NGFS to better collaborate with central banks and peer supervisors on climate. “Having Benhart in this newly created position will significantly expand the agency’s capacity to collaborate with stakeholders and to promote improvements in climate change risk management at banks,” said Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael J. Hsu.

Robert Wall will join Lazard Asset Management (LAM) in October as Head of Sustainable Private Infrastructure and will be based in London. Wall, who has more than 20 years’ experience in growing private market investment portfolios, investing in infrastructure companies, and delivering engineering projects, will build a team to manage a sustainable investment strategy focused on private infrastructure companies. The strategy is expected to be made available to clients globally. “Clients are increasingly looking for investments that provide diversified returns and that have demonstrable benefits to society in line with a more sustainable world,” said Ashish Bhutani, Chief Executive Officer, LAM. “Robert has extensive experience in investing capital across all sub-sectors of the infrastructure asset class to deliver strong returns.” Wall was most recently a partner and member of the infrastructure investment committee in private markets at Federated Hermes. Prior to that he was a founding member of the infrastructure investments team at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

BlueBay Asset Management has expanded its ESG investment team with the addition of two new roles. Emma Whiteacre has been appointed as the firm’s Senior ESG Analyst. Contributing to BlueBay’s ongoing ESG investment management efforts, she will be based in London and report to My-Linh Ngo, Head of ESG Investment. Prior to joining, Whiteacre was a Country Risk Analyst at Beazley Group and Chair of its Responsible Business Committee. Elena Koycheva has been appointed as ESG Institutional Portfolio Manager, reporting to Simon Chennell, Institutional Portfolio Manager at the firm. In her new role, Koycheva will work with investment teams to better integrate ESG across BlueBay’s strategies. She has been with the firm for five years, most recently working as Senior RFP Writer within the Global Business Development team.

Emma Pringle has been appointed as Head of ESG at Australian boutique investment manager Maple-Brown Abbott. She joins from BT, the wealth management arm of Westpac, where she amassed experience in product governance and sustainability across superannuation, investments and insurance as Head of Customer Governance and Sustainability. Pringle has also previously served as Co-Chair of the Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative (ASFI) technical working group on meeting community expectations. “We have a longstanding commitment to integrating ESG factors into our investment process across each of our investment strategies. We expect [Pringle’s appointment] will be even more important as risks around climate change and social issues like modern slavery become more prevalent,” said Sophia Rahmani, Maple-Brown Abbott CEO.

The practical information hub for asset owners looking to invest successfully and sustainably for the long term. As best practice evolves, we will share the news, insights and data to guide asset owners on their individual journey to ESG integration.

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