This Week’s People Moves: PRI CEO Leaving Post in 2022

ESG Investor’s weekly round-up of new hires in the sustainable investing sector including PRI, GTAG, Epworth AM, Vontobel AM, SSgA and Bain & Company.

After nine years, Fiona Reynolds has announced that she is stepping down from her role as CEO of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). She will remain in the role until 2022 before returning to her home country, Australia. The PRI board has commenced the search for her successor, headed by PRI Chair Martin Skancke. When she first joined the PRI in 2013, it was an organisation with 37 members of staff and 1,000 signatories. Today, the PRI boasts over 170 members of staff and 4,000 global signatories. In a blog post announcing her departure, Reynolds said she will “continue to support the shift to a sustainable future”. Speaking at an online event hosted by BMO Global Asset Management earlier this week, she said: “You cannot get to net zero without the finance and investment communities. Investors are thinking about how to protect their portfolios during the transition to net zero, but there are also opportunities for investments in new technologies and companies of the future.” Reynolds recently spoke with ESG Investor about the PRI’s 2021-2024 strategy, which reflects the shift in emphasis from recognising and managing ESG-related risks in the investment portfolio, to taking a more outcomes-based approach. “In Reynolds’ tenure as CEO of the PRI, she has led the growth in scope and reach of the organisation to investors, policymakers and other stakeholders around the world. In turn, with tremendous commitment, energy and experience, Reynolds has also contributed personally to the growth of responsible investing more broadly. We are very sorry to see her step down as CEO, but fully understand her personal wish to be home in Australia with family,” said Skancke.

The UK government has announced the formation of the Green Technical Advisory Group (GTAG), members of which will oversee the delivery of the UK’s Green Taxonomy, providing independent and non-binding advice. Made up of financial and business stakeholders and NGOs, GTAG will be chaired by the Green Finance Institute’s Ingrid Holmes. Other members include: Faith Ward (Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change); Nick Robins (Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics); Rhian-Mari Thomas (Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures); Ben Caldecott (Centre for Greening Finance and Investment); Mike Thompson (Committee on Climate Change); Lily Dai (London Stock Exchange Group); and Alyssa Heath (Principles for Responsible Investment). The government also plans to establish an Energy Working Group as part of the GTAG, which will provide advice on the usage of key technologies such as carbon capture, utilisation and storage. “We want investors and businesses to play their part in greening our economy and transitioning to net zero, so it’s crucial we have a clear common definition of what green means. A UK green taxonomy will provide better data and on the environmental impact of firms, supporting investors, businesses and consumers to make green financial decisions and accelerating the transition to net zero,” said John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury.

Following the recent expansion of Vontobel Asset Management’s suite of sustainable funds, the firm has appointed Elena Tedesco as Portfolio Manager of the Vontobel Fund II – Global Impact Equities. With over 20 years of sustainable investing experience, Tedesco joins Vontobel from Federated Hermes, where she was the Director of the Global Emerging Markets team. The fund will invest in companies contributing to the advancement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while delivering strong financial performance. “Tedesco is well-known in the industry as an expert on sustainability and has been at the vanguard of ESG for the last two decades. Her strong background and experience in broader ESG issues as well as specifically in impact investing will play a key role in further strengthening Vontobel’s expertise in the impact space to generate value for our clients,” said Dan Scott, Head of Impact and Thematics at Vontobel.

State Street Global Advisors (SSgA), the asset management business of State Street Corporation, has announced a series of c-suite changes. Karen Wong has joined the firm’s advisory arm to fill the newly created role of Global Head of ESG and Sustainable Investing. Prior to this appointment, Wong was Head of Index Portfolio Management for Mellon Investments Corporation, where she helped build Mellon’s ESG efforts since 2014. This follows the announcement that SSgA’s current CIO of Global Equity Beta Solutions (GEBS), Lynn Blake, will be retiring in September 2021. COO John Tucker has been promoted to succeed her. “As we say farewell to our valued colleague Blake, we feel confident that we have two exceptional leaders to take forward the great work she has done, both in GEBS overall, and with our ESG and stewardship programmes. I’m excited to have Wong join us to lead the newly integrated ESG function, bringing together asset stewardship, ESG integration and ESG investment strategy,” said Global CIO Lori Heinel.

Debra McCoy has re-joined management consultancy Bain & Company, assuming the role of partner in its global Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility practice, advising a range of global, cross-sector clients on operational and strategic sustainability investing tactics. McCoy joins from BlackRock where she was Head of Sustainable Investing for a team managing more than US$200 billion AUM. “McCoy has been a respected leader in sustainability long before the terms ’sustainability’ and ‘impact’ held the weight they do today. She brings multiple vantage points, through her expertise in investing as well as her experience working across the private sector, academia, nonprofits and government. This will make her a valuable addition to Bain’s longstanding global network of sustainability experts,” said Jenny Davis-Peccoud, Co-Head of Bain’s Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility practice.

Roz Amos has joined Epworth Investment Management as Chief Investment Strategist. As an investment manager working with churches and charities, Amos will be responsible for the investment functions of the firm and the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church. This follows the recent expansion of Epworth’s fund range through the Global Equity Fund for Charities, the Multi-Asset Fund for Charities and the Climate Stewardship Fund. Amos will lead the investment team in the management of these funds and further enhance Epworth’s existing fund offering. Prior to the appointment, Amos chaired UBS Asset Management’s Product Strategy Board and worked as an investment consultant for Willis Towers Watson. “Epworth has undergone a tremendous amount of development and this has underscored our need for the strategic skillset that Amos brings to the team,” said Chief Executive David Palmer.

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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