HSBC ‘suspends executive’ after downplaying climate change financial risk

HSBC has reportedly suspended one of its senior executives over comments he made about climate change at an event last week.

According to a report by the Financial Times, Stuart Kirk – the asset management division’s global head of responsible investing – said that central bankers and regulators have exaggerated the financial risks of global warming to “out-hyperbole the next guy”.

The newspaper’s sources claimed that the bank and senior executives criticised the comments but had agreed on the theme and content prior to the speech, which took place at a Financial Times conference.

The presentation was entitled “Why investors need not worry about climate risk” and had been given the go-ahead 8 weeks before the event, said the report.

“I do not agree – at all – with the remarks made at last week’s FT Moral Money Summit,” wrote Noel Quinn, group chief executive at HSBC, on his LinkedIn page over the weekend. “They are inconsistent with HSBC’s strategy and do not reflect the views of the senior leadership of HSBC or HSBC Asset Management.”

The FT revealed that Kirk had also said that during his career – spanning 25 years – there was “always some nut job telling me about the end of the world”, comparing global warming to the Y2K prediction in 2000.

“Unsubstantiated, shrill, partisan, self-serving, apocalyptic warnings are ALWAYS wrong,” wrote the HSBC executive on a presentation slide.

Quinn said that he hopes that the bank’s employees and customers know that it is “absolutely committed to a net zero future”.

“I want HSBC to be a leader in supporting our clients, the finance sector and others through the massive transformation that’s needed to build a better future,” he wrote. “We have a lot of work to do, and I am determined that our team won’t be distracted by last week’s comments.”

    Share Story:

Recent Stories


New Business Frontiers
FStech’s Mark Evans discusses the future of financial services with Liu Jianning of Huawei, covering the limitations that current thinking can impose, how financial institutions can embrace technology to be both agile and resilient, and making space for the organisation to focus on the job of creating innovative business models and on delivering business value for their customers.

The Future of Intelligent Finance
FStech Group Editor Mark Evans sits down with Jason Cao, President of Global Financial Services Business Unit, Enterprise BG at Huawei ahead of its Intelligent Finance Summit which was held on 3rd and 4th of June in Shanghai. This Q&A delves into key trends in digital transformation of the financial services industry as well as a look at how data, robotic infrastructure, intelligent storage and innovative technologies are shaping the future for FSIs.

Cracking down on fraud
In this webinar a panel of expert speakers explored the ways in which high-volume PSPs and FinTechs are preventing fraud while providing a seamless customer experience.