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RI People & Appointments, Sept. 25: the latest ESG hires and departures

This week’s round-up of moves and appointments.

US boards are adding more women to their ranks as well as voluntarily disclosing more information about directors’ diversity and skills, according to Equilar’s latest report, Board Composition and Director Recruiting Trends. In 2017, 20.9% of board seats were occupied by women at the largest US companies, compared to 16.5% five years earlier. For the Russell 3000, that figure stands at 16.0%, up from about 12% in 2013. From being a non-starter a few years ago, a 20% goal suddenly seems achievable even for the wider market.
The report notes that these changes are seen as resulting from investor pressure, pointing to statements from State Street Global Advisors and BlackRock that called on boards to reconsider their composition, and gender diversity, warning them that if they do not, they will receive negative votes at the next board elections. Companies are also disclosing more board diversity information; more than 45% of Equilar 500 companies disclosed their board composition as it relates to gender diversity, and nearly 40% included information about their directors with respect to racial or ethnic background. More information about skills is also being disclosed. Within the same sample, 18.4% of companies included a “board skills matrix” in their proxy statement.

Fitch has taken on a former managing director at green real estate body GRESB, in a further sign it is ramping up its ESG capabilities. Sara Kelly Anzinger headed up ESG and Real Estate Debt & Fixed Income at GRESB until last year, based in the Netherlands. She worked on topics such as green bonds for real estate before leaving to set up her own sustainable finance consultancy, also in Amsterdam. She has now been hired by Fitch Ratings as Director of Structured Finance – CMBS (Commercial, Mortgage-Backed Securities), according to her LinkedIn, and is based in New York. Fitch launched a dedicated ESG page on its website and is understood to be engaging more on ‘green’ issues in credit ratings.

Purpose Capital, the Toronto-based impact investing advisory firm, has hired Upkar Arora, as its new chief executive.
Prior to joining Purpose Capital, Arora founded Toronto-based boutique advisory firm Illumina Partners, which specialized in strategy, operations, mergers and acquistions and finance. He has also been involved with social finance for the past seven years, investing in community bonds, social impact bonds and renewable energy.CalPERS, the $336 billion pension fund, has named Charles A. Asubonten as its chief financial officer (CFO). Asubonten, who starts as CFO on October 2, was most recently the managing director in a private equity firm. Marlene Timberlake D’Adamo, who was serving as interim CFO, will return to her role as chief compliance officer as a direct report to the CalPERS CEO and will be part of the executive leadership team.

Christian Vollmuth, formerly Managing Director at the German Derivatives Association, has been appointed Chief Risk Officer at German index provider, Solactive. Vollmuth, who takes up his new role on the 1 October, will be responsible for the firm’s legal, compliance, and regulatory affairs. He joins Steffen Scheuble, Chief Executive Officer, and Christian Grabbe, Chief Operating Officer, on the management board. During his time at the German Derivatives Association, Vollmuth was a member of working groups at the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin), the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), and the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO).

Bob Santangelo has been promoted to President of International Sales at US securities servicing firm Broadridge Financial Solutions, as it focuses on global expansion. Based out of Broadridge’s London office, he will be responsible for international growth opportunities in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific. Santangelo, who has been with Broadridge since 1992, most recently served as Senior Vice President Sales.

John Worth, Chief Financial Officer at the UK’s Co-operative Bank, has announced his decision to step down from the role after a year, following the “successful completion of the Restructuring and Recapitalisation” at the troubled financial institution. The Bank’s Board has named its Chief Restructuring Officer, Tom Wood, as Worth’s replacement – subject to regulatory approval. Wood previously served as Acting-CEO at UK commercial bank Shawbrook, and also worked at the now liquidated NBNK Investments, the UK investment vehicle set up to acquire assets from banks bailed out during the 2008 financial crisis.