HSBC suspends banker who joked ‘who cares if Miami is underwater’ and about ‘nutjobs warning of the end of the world ‘ in an anti-climate change speech that had been AGREED with bosses two months earlier
- Stuart Kirk is head of responsible investing at HSBC, one of the biggest banks
- Senior figures came out to condemn his comments after they sparked a scandal
- Theme and content of the talk had been agreed to internally, sources told FT
HSBC has suspended one of its top bankers over a rant about climate change in which he said ‘who cares if Miami is underwater’ and ‘nutjobs are always warning about the end of world’.
Stuart Kirk, the global head of responsible investing at HSBC Asset Management, made the inflammatory comments during a speech at a conference on Thursday.
Senior figures at HSBC, one of the biggest banks in the world, have come out to condemn his comments after they sparked a scandal.
This is despite the title of the presentation — ‘Why investors need not worry about climate risk’ — being agreed two months in advance and publicised online in the run-up to the event.
The theme and content of the talk had also been agreed to internally, sources told The Financial Times.
Stuart Kirk is the global head of responsible investing at HSBC Asset Management. He said ‘nutjobs’ were always predicting the ‘end of the world’
He added: ‘Who cares if Miami is six metres underwater in 100 years? Amsterdam has been six metres underwater for ages and that’s a really nice place.’ Pictured: Front side beach, Miami (File image)
During the speech, Mr Kirk said: ‘I feel like it’s getting a little bit out of hand, the constant reminder that we are doomed. There’s always some nutjob telling me about the end of the world.
‘What bothers me about this one is the amount of work these people make me do, the amount of regulation coming down the line.’
He has now been suspended pending an investigation, sources at HSBC told the FT.
He added: ‘Human beings have been fantastic at adapting to change, adapting to climate emergencies, and we will continue to do so.
‘Who cares if Miami is six metres underwater in 100 years? Amsterdam has been six metres underwater for ages and that’s a really nice place.
‘I don’t doubt the science but we do need to adapt.’
Over the weekend, chief executive Noel Quinn and Nuno Matos, head of HSBC’s wealth and personal banking business, both tried to distance themselves from the comments in social media posts.
‘I do not agree — at all — with the remarks made at [this] week’s FT Moral Money Summit,’ Mr Quinn wrote on LinkedIn.
‘They are inconsistent with HSBC’s strategy and do not reflect the views of the senior leadership of HSBC or HSBC Asset Management.
‘We have a lot of work to do, and I am determined that our team won’t be distracted by last week’s comments.’
Mr Matos said: ‘In complete agreement with Noel Quinn — the transition to net zero is of upmost [sic] importance to us and we will strive for ways to help our clients on this journey.’
Mr Kirk has been a banker for close to 30 years. He decried how many climate change regulations were making more work for him
While HSBC refused to say whether Kirk was at risk of losing his job because of the comments, the bank’s asset management chief Nicolas Moreau said Kirk’s opinions ‘do not reflect the views of HSBC Asset Management nor HSBC Group in any way’.
He added: ‘HSBC regards climate change as one of the most serious emergencies facing the planet, and is committed to supporting its customers in their transition to net zero and a sustainable future.’
HSBC has been contacted for comment.
He said: ‘Human beings have been fantastic at adapting to change, adapting to climate emergencies, and we will continue to do so’