HSBC’s medium is the message

A diversity of views can be a good thing but as HSBC is finding out, it can be an issue if one of your senior bankers decides to savage your own policies.

Stuart Kirk sparked a debate on free speech after he made comments at a conference that were off message as regards responsible investing. Kirk used the expression "apocalyptic" of the language used by protesters to criticise some climate change discussion and even asked: "Who cares if Miami is six metres underwater in 100 years?"

Mr Kirk, the responsible investment chief in HSBC’s asset management division, made his comments on climate change in a speech at a Financial Times conference, including the quotable line “there's always some nut job telling me about the end of the world”. In particular, he singled out former BoE Governor Mark Carneys as being overly zealous.

In the aftermath of this speech, several find managers have come to Kirk’s defence, not to agree with his views, but to point out that free speech trumps the need to sing the same song.

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