RI People & Appointments, January 30: Investors welcome climate expert’s appointment at Exxon

The latest ESG movers and shakers

ExxonMobil has appointed veteran climate scientist Susan Avery to its board following recent pressure from investors and civil society about the oil major’s lack of engagement with the issue. Avery, a former Director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and member of the scientific advisory board for former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, will take up the role of director from February 1. Last year, investors approved a shareholder proposal to let investors nominate board members – with a view to appointing climate experts – in the same season as 10 other climate-related proposals were rejected at the oil major’s AGM. Investors welcomed Avery’s appointment, with Tim Smith of Walden Asset Management, who has helped lead engagements with ExxonMobil, calling it a “prudent and forward-looking decision”.

Candriam Investors, the pan-European asset manager with a strong RI focus from its days as Dexia AM, has revamped its responsible investments management. Isabelle Cabie, Global Head of Sustainable and Responsible Investments at Candriam since 2010, becomes Global Head of Responsible Development while Wim Van Hyfte becomes Global Head of Responsible Investments and Research. Van Hyfte will be responsible for investment research and analysis on sustainability; he joins from the Quantitative team at Candriam where he was Senior Fund Manager and SRI specialist co-managing over $3billion in global SRI quant equity funds and segregated accounts. They will both report to Candriam’s CIO of Investment Management Vincent Hamelink.

Jean-Pierre Picarel has joined MSCI ESG Research as Vice President ESG Sales for the French market and French-speaking clients in Switzerland. He will be based in MSCI’s Paris office and report to Jillis Herpers, EMEA Head of ESG Client Coverage. Prior to joining MSCI he was a founder, sales and business manager at Beyond Risk, a consultancy specialising in operational and financial risks. Prior to Beyond Risk, he was at ISS/RiskMetrics as a team lead in the Corporate Governance proxy voting account management team.

Helena Morrissey is joining Legal & General Investment Management, according to the Financial Times. Morrissey, the former chair of Newton Investment Management and an activist for gender equality and head of the UK fund management trade body, will take on the new role of head of personal investing at LGIM, reporting to CEO Mark Zinkula.FTI Consulting, the New York-listed advisory firm, has appointed Peter Reilly as Director, Corporate Governance in the Strategic Communications segment, saying it strengthens its global governance, shareholder engagement and compensation advisory capabilities. FTI said he joins from proxy firm Glass Lewis, where he led the analysis of corporate governance, executive compensation and environmental, social and governance practices of companies listed in the UK, Ireland and the Nordic countries. He will be based in Dublin and will partner with FTI Consulting’s corporate governance experts across Europe and North America.

A former fund manager at hedge fund group Man has reportedly started a sustainable investment boutique. Citywire said Dr. Richard Bateson has set up a boutique firm called Bateson Asset Management, which applies machine learning and artificial intelligence to identify stocks based on their ESG characteristics. Bateson was a strategy boss on Man’s flagship AHL fund, the report said, adding the firm would initially launch two mandates, BAM Generation (equities) and BAM Lexicon (non-commodities intraday financial futures).

Bob Laux has been appointed North American Lead of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC). Laux joins from Microsoft, where he served as Group Treasury Controller. Before joining Microsoft in 2000, he was an Industry Fellow at the US standard-setting body, the Financial Accounting Standards Board. Laux’s main task at the IIRC will be to promote Integrated Reporting in North America. His appointment follows some major shifts towards its adoption in the US during 2016, the IIRC said, when CalPERS called on boards to embrace it.

Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & CO (GMO) has appointed a new CEO. Scott Hayward, former CEO of Quantitative Management Associates, will replace Peg McGetrick at the US-based firm, co-founded by Jeremy Grantham, who also created climate-change research body the Grantham Institute McGetrick will remain a director at GMO once Hayward takes the reins on February 13. Andy Martin, former Managing Director of Cambridge Associates, will also join GMO, as Head of Investment Teams. The moves come alongside the announcement that GMO will launch a series of climate-change focused strategies, including a dedicated fund.

Tracey McDermott, the former acting head of the UK’s financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, is reportedly joining Standard Chartered as head of corporate, public and regulatory affairs. The Financial Times was quoting unnamed “people familiar with the move”.