HSBC banker quits and declares 'cancel culture destroys wealth and progress'

·2 min read
HSBC Stuart Kirk - FT LIVE
HSBC Stuart Kirk - FT LIVE

The HSBC banker who was suspended after attacking climate activists in a speech earlier this year has quit his role in protest at "cancel culture" and "virtue signalling".

Britain's biggest bank put Stuart Kirk on paid leave in May after he hit out at climate "nut jobs" during a City event and asked “who cares if Miami is six metres underwater in 100 years?".

Mr Kirk, who was global head of responsible investing at HSBC Asset Management, wrote on social media site LinkedIn that he has now decided to quit in protest.

"Ironically given my job title, I have concluded that the bank’s behaviour towards me since my speech has made my position, well, unsustainable," he wrote

He added that "cancel culture destroys wealth and progress" and there is "no place for virtue signalling in finance".

"I will continue to prod with a sharp stick the nonsense, hypocrisy, sloppy logic and group-think inside the mainstream bubble of sustainable finance," he insisted, adding that "most of what’s out there is bonkers".

Mr Kirk's initial comments about climate change - in which he also said there was "always some nut job telling me about the end of the world" - surprised many in the finance sector as they were out of step with an industry that is increasingly keen to burnish its green credentials.

In a slide accompanying his speech at the conference earlier this year, he wrote that "unsubstantiated, shrill, partisan, self-serving, apocalyptic warnings are ALWAYS wrong".

Mr Kirk said that since his suspension “tens of thousands of people, from chief executives and congressmen to scientists and mom and pop investors – who contacted me from around the world offering their support and solidarity over the past two months.

“You have given me strength during what has been a tumultuous time for me and my family,” he wrote.

In his LinkedIn post on Thursday, he said he has now gathered a "crack group of like-minded individuals together to deliver what is arguably the greatest sustainable investment idea ever conceived".

He claimed that the project, which he will launch later this year, will "underline the central argument in my speech". In his LinkedIn bio he added that he "actually loves Miami".

HSBC declined to comment.

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