RI People & Appointments, Dec. 12: MSCI ESG Research, HSBC, Biological Diversity, West Midlands, Varma

The latest ESG movers and shakers

Zanele Mtshali has joined MSCI ESG Research as a Senior Associate in corporate governance research based in London. She was formerly with Investec Asset Management (IAM) as an ESG Analyst in their London office covering ESG issues across a range of international markets. Prior to IAM, she was an International Development Executive at Berwin Leighton Paisner focusing on the development of the firm’s international strategy, while completing an MSc in International Business. Last month, MSCI ESG Research announced the appointment of Michael Cheng, Vice President of corporate governance research based in Hong Kong, who joined from the Asian Corporate Governance Association.

The special advisor to the FSB’s Task Force on Climate-related Disclosure, Russell Picot, will chair the board of HSBC’s UK Pension Scheme, reports say. Picot, who is also an ambassador for the International Integrated Reporting Council, and chair of the Unilever pension scheme trustee board, will take over from Tony Ashford. He has trustee director roles at LifeSight and the WillisTowersWatson UK MasterTrust. The HSBC fund last month opted to make a new investment fund with a climate change tilt launched by Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM).

Romania’s Minister of the Environment, Cristiana Pasca Palmer has been named the latest Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, at the Assistant Secretary-General Level of the UN. Pasca Palmer replaces Brazil’s Braulio Dias. The UN said her selection was based on her “extensive experience in global policymaking and in coordinating the implementation of environment and sustainable development policies, programmes and projects”.

Michael Marshall is now the Responsible Investment Officer at the £11.5bn (€14.8bn) West Midlands Pension Fund, based in Wolverhampton in central England. He was previously Senior Analyst at Trucost within its Financial Institutions team. Before that he was an ESG Research Analyst at Eiris. He takes over a role previously held by Leanne Clements, who left in March to join the Pension Protection Fund (PPF).

Caroline Flammer, Pratima (Tima) Bansal, Dan Hanson and Rohan Dhanuka have all been honoured by the IRRC Institute’s annual Research Award. Flammer and Bansal, respectively Assistant Professor of Strategy and Innovation at Boston University and Professor of General Management and Sustainability at the University of Western University (London, Ontario), won for their research “Does a Long-Term Orientation Create Value? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity”. It shows that providing long-term incentives to executives – in the form of long-term executive compensation – leads to increased long-horizon investments and higher business performance. Hanson and Dhanuka, who are current and former partners with Jarislowsky Fraser Global Investment Management, won for their “The ‘Science’ and ‘Art’ of High Quality Investing” paper.Varma, Finland’s largest pension fund, has appointed a representative from trade union body Akava to its board. Pekka Pisspanen is director of the organisation, which represents “highly-educated people”, including employees, students and entrepreneurs in teaching, management and “expert” positions. The appointment to the board of Varma, which has around €40bn under management, will take effect from January 1.

Former Deutsche Asset Management Global Head Kevin Parker’s new firm, Sustainable Insight Capital Management (SICM), has become a certified B Corporation. B Corp’s use “power of business to benefit the greater good”. SICM, where Parker is Managing Partner, said it exceeded B Corp’s standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. SICM manages long-only equity strategies on behalf of institutional clients, integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) research into its investment process.

Nobel Peace Prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has become the latest Nobel laureate to urge the $420m Nobel Foundation to divest from fossil fuels. The prize-winners argue that the institution ‘should not profit from the destruction of our planet’s climate’. A letter has been sent to the foundation, signed by eminent scientific contributors to the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Stockholm-based grassroots group Divest Nobel initiated the call on the Nobel Foundation to cut its ties to the fossil fuel industry.

Michelle Scrimgeour has been named CEO for Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) at Columbia Threadneedle Investments, the global asset management group of Ameriprise Financial. She joins from M&G Investments, where she is currently Chief Risk Officer. Before she joined M&G, she held senior roles at BlackRock (previously Merrill Lynch Investment Managers and Mercury Asset Management). Link

Donald Trump has nominated Scott Pruitt, a well-known climate change denier, as the new head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Pruitt, a Republican, is Oklahoma’s attorney general and a leading opponent of current president Barrack Obama’s push to tackle climate change in the country. Greenpeace described him as “a pure product of the oil and gas industry”. Trump is also expected to nominate Exxon Mobil’s chief executive, Rex Tillerson, as his secretary of state. The moves have prompted further concerns over whether Trump will seek to dismantle the US pledge to reduce its emissions under the Paris Agreement. Should this go ahead, Michael Bloomberg recently suggested that the country’s mayors could fulfil the commitments at state and city level instead.

Investment Finance Specialists are being sought by the UK government’s new Inclusive Economy Unit. The job advertisement states: “You will be one of two, new, investment finance specialists leading the GIEU’s programme to develop and deliver new models of investment to address social challenges at scale: a Head of Investment Models, and a Senior Investment Advisor.”