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The situation became "unsustainable" and in the end Stuart Kirk resigned from his position as global head of responsible investment at HSBC Asset Management on July 7, 2022.
After Kirk's groundbreaking lecture on the influence of climate change on the financial sector in May 2022, the expert was immediately suspended due to the discomfort caused by his words. Kirk's profoundly humanistic postulates, far removed from sentimentalism, demolished the supposed risks of climate change in a market such as his, resilient by definition. Barely a month and a half after that temporary suspension, Kirk himself announced that, in face of the attitude of a company to which he had dedicated many, many years of an impeccable career but which never ceased to pressure him, he had no choice but to resign definitively.
"Investing is hard. So is saving the planet. Opinions on both topics differ. But humanity's best chance of success is an 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," Stuart Kirk said in his June statement on his LinkedIn profile. Kirk also announced that he was getting together a team of talented and like-minded individuals to present "the greatest sustainable investment idea ever conceived." The first of these related actions will be unveiled later this year.
This story also provoked a wave of support in networks for Kirk and against HSBC's extremist religious attitude. The financial giant, by the way, several months later, has yet to comment on Kirk’s resignation, declining to make any sort of statement to the media. Republican Senator Steve Daines denounced in a letter1 sent to HSBC CEO Noel Quinn, that the bank's decision to suspend Kirk may have been a violation of U.S. law, suggesting that the bank actually succumbed to pressure from outside investors such as BlackRock (HSBC's largest shareholder) or climate-focused industry groups such as the Net Zero Banking Alliance, of which Banco Santander, for example, is a founding member. Both HSBC and BlackRock are core members of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), which pursues greenhouse gas reduction policies and lobbies the G20 for millions of dollars in funding for its projects. Faced with this blatant conflict of interests, Daines recalled that direct or indirect influence in the management of entities by related companies is completely illegal. In addition, the senator reminded that the Paris agreements have no legal validity in the United States and that such policies are technologically unfeasible and unachievable without causing economic ruin. Daines alerted of the lack of consensus regarding the ecological transition and the dangers of extremist green policies that could ultimately lead to a financial crisis similar to the one we suffered in the first decade of our century. The financial industry hides the real consequences of these green policies, ignoring authoritative voices such as Stuart Kirk, just as they did in 2008 when they lied about the real capacities of the real estate market, until it collapsed, causing an unprecedented global crisis.
Fortunately, Stuart Kirk has no intention of stepping back and will continue to cultivate free thinking, "poking a sharp stick at the nonsense, hypocrisy and sloppy logic" within the sustainability finance industry. A humanistic financier through and through. Can't wait to see what steps he takes next.
1 Letter from Steve Daines to Noel Quinn | 06/09/2022