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How to become an MD at HSBC without banking experience

Usually, it takes at least a decade to climb the ladder and become a managing director of an investment bank. It may be possible to shorten this by joining a bank of a technology company. Now, it looks like there’s another option to work your way to the top: ESG expertise.

HSBC announced yesterday that it has made several environmental, social and governance (ESG) hires, including Jenny McInnes, a career civil servant in the UK, who arrives as MD and Head of Sustainability Policy and Partnerships . McInnes has 10 years experience working for the UK government and no years experience working for a bank. HSBC says it doesn’t matter: McInnes will be working “alongside the bankers” at HSBC in London; her government experience is relevant as she was Director of International Financial Partnerships for the UK and invested in “sustainable infrastructure and nature.

That may be the case, but McInnes’ manifestation in a prominent role reflects the dearth of ESG expertise within the financial services industry itself. “TThese are the stars of the asset management world right now. Once upon a time the star equity manager; now he is the star professional of the ESG”, Mark Versey, chief executive of Aviva Investor, told the Financial Times in an article about ESG hiring yesterday. Amid “intense” competition for talent, ESG headhunters said they had begun raiding not only departments for people like McInnes, but consulting firms, NGOs and multilateral development banks. Energy, technology and venture capital companies are also on board.

If you have a whiff of ESG expertise, then now is your time. The FT says experienced ESG professionals get pay raises of 30-50% for job swapping. These good times may not last. – There are many young people following ESG qualifications in finance to come; it’s just old ones that are hard to find. “Finance people think everything is BS, sustainability people don’t know finance,” one academic observes in the FT article. Seniors who combine the two are rare unicorns, no matter where they have worked for 10 years.

Incidentally, the Financial Times also suggests that our fears for post-war equity capital markets (ECM) jobs in Ukraine are coming true. Industry-wide ECM fees are now down more than 75% year over year and there has been no traditional IPO in the US February 17 and March 14. “People probably thought it might be down 30-50%, but I don’t think anyone modeled a 75% drop,” observes one stock analyst.


JPMorgan does Nicolas Skaff in charge of his Private Capital Markets unit in EMEA. Skaff was previously responsible for the Emerging Markets Equity Capital Markets Unit in Europe, Middle East and Africa. It looks like a lucky escape. (Financial News)

Russia’s war in Ukraine has some investors wondering if they’d rather invest their money in defense than ESG. (Bloomberg)

Credit Suisse Vice President Severin Schwan steps down. (Bloomberg)

Credit Suisse shares have fallen more than 70% since Schwan joined the board in 2014. (Financial Times)

Jefferies scaled back its crypto brokerage business after its two most experienced top FX brokers, Brandon Mulvihill and Anthony Mazzarese, resigned for a crypto start-up. (Bloomberg)

Bridgewater Associates is gearing up to back its first crypto fund. (Coindesk)

Goldman Sachs executed an OTC crypto options trade. (Bloomberg)

Carrie Lam, the leader of Hong Kong, said “people’s tolerance is fading” for COVID restrictions. “I have a very good feeling that some of our financial institutions are losing patience with this kind of isolated status of Hong Kong and Hong Kong is an international financial center.” (FinancialTimes)

Elizabeth Kozack, founding member of Marcus at Goldman Sachs, has joined JPMorgan Chase as head of alternative lending in consumer banking. (Business Insider)

Why are lawyers depressed? “It is the combination of risk aversion and cynicism that is associated with pessimism, a precursor to depression. Research shows that people who become lawyers have fragile egos and this is one of the reasons they are drawn to a prestigious profession. (Bloomberg)

Being born male and having strong masculine traits (male and female) is associated with an inflated intellectual self-image. (Neuroscience News)

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