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HSBC ESG advisor appointed to oversee Church Commissioners’ £9.2bn investment portfolio

Alan Smith, currently Senior Advisor, ESG Risk and Inclusion at HSBC, will replace Loretta Minghella in one of the most senior non-clergy roles in the CoE

Alan Smith has been appointed the Church of England’s next First Church Estates Commissioner, responsible for the strategic management of the Church Commissioners’ £9.2bn investment portfolio. 

Smith is currently a Senior Advisor, ESG Risk and Inclusion at HSBC, the latest in a number of risk-related roles he has held at the bank since joining in 1994. He also chaired HSBC’s Pension Risk Oversight Forum, and is a member of its ESG Steering Committee and Climate Business Council. 

The current First Church Estates Commissioner, Loretta Minghella, announced her intention to step down from the role in 2020, in order to become Master of Clare College Cambridge. She will be replaced by Smith on the 1st of October. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury said: “Climate change is the most urgent challenge we face, and Alan’s knowledge of environmental issues and risk management will be critically important for the Commissioners’ work”.

The First Church Estates Commissioner, appointed by the Queen, is one of the most senior non-clergy roles in the Church of England, and chairs the Church Commissioners’ Assets Committee, which is responsible for the strategic management of the Church’s investments. Smith became an ordinary Church Commissioner in 2018.

Minghella, the former CEO of Christian Aid, told RI in 2019 that the Church has “an opportunity to use our investments in the most responsible way we can. […] It would be very nice if policymakers could solve the problem, but as shareholders we have a fantastic opportunity to get companies to listen to us. To solve a wicked problem requires the public, civil society, all manifestations of faith organisations, government, business and finance working together”.