The week in GRC: SEC exam chief to step down and Ford adopts gender-neutral titles

Jul 16, 2021
This week’s governance, compliance and risk-management stories from around the web

CNBC reported that the chief compliance officer at Credit Suisse’s domestic unit was stepping down. Floriana Scarlato, who took the compliance job at Swiss Universal Bank on March 1, is leaving to pursue opportunities elsewhere, the bank said. Scarlato joined Credit Suisse in 2005.

‘Floriana Scarlato’s successor will be announced in due course,’ Credit Suisse said in a statement.

– According to CNN, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway said it was dropping plans to buy a big natural gas pipeline for more than $1.7 bn because of antitrust concerns. Dominion Energy already completed the sale of gas transmission assets to Berkshire Hathaway’s energy subsidiary in November. But Dominion said the plan to sell its Questar Pipelines business to Buffett’s firm was canceled because of ‘ongoing uncertainty associated with achieving clearance from the Federal Trade Commission’ for that part of the deal.

The decision to terminate the pipeline sale came days after US President Joe Biden signed an executive order that calls for more scrutiny on mergers as well as more measures to promote competition in the US economy.

– Swiss markets watchdog Finma, which is stepping up pressure on banks and insurers to disclose climate risks to their businesses, picked Zurich Insurance’s chief investment officer Urban Angehrn as its new boss, Reuters reported. Angehrn spent 14 years at Zurich after jobs at Winterthur Group, Credit Suisse and JPMorgan. He succeeds Mark Branson, who was named president of the German financial regulator BaFin in March.

CNBC reported that Ford Motor Company’s board voted recently to amend the company’s bylaws to ‘adopt gender-neutral language throughout,’ including using ‘chair’ in place of ‘chairman,’ according to a regulatory filing. As a result, Bill Ford is no longer chairman of the board of directors, but he is its chair.

The changes come after many companies have promised employees and investors that they will be more inclusive and focus on diversity efforts following social unrest in the wake of the #MeToo movement and George Floyd’s murder last year.

‘Our roles at Ford aren’t gender-exclusive and these changes help limit ambiguity and contribute to the inclusive and equitable culture we’re creating,’ a Ford spokesperson said.

CNBC said gender parity on UK company boards has suffered a setback in the wake of the pandemic, with a report by consultancy The Pipeline finding it will take an additional four years before this is achieved. The predicted year for gender parity on boards at major publicly listed UK firms has gone up by four years to 2036, according to the research.

‘The pandemic provided an opportunity to push forward with meaningful change, but instead we have gone backwards and the prospect for women seeking advancement to the senior echelons of FTSE 350 companies looks as desolate as ever,’ the firm said in a statement.

The Pipeline’s Women Count report showed that companies where at least 50 percent of the board was female experienced a profit margin of 21.2 percent. On the other hand, companies without women on their executive committees saw a drop in profits of 17.5 percent.

– According to Reuters, experts say giving financial services firms a common taxonomy and framework for managing their climate risk exposures is seen as one of the first co-ordinated actions by US financial regulators, with efforts by the EU possibly serving as a model for future regulation.

Speaking with one voice has long been a challenge for the US, and co-ordination among banking, securities and derivatives regulators is seen as an essential step toward providing firms with a clear understanding of what is expected from them.

The development of a joint taxonomy, often referred to as a ‘green taxonomy,’ would help financial participants understand what types of assets regulators view as green. For example, such a taxonomy would allow asset and investment managers to classify assets with respect to an issuer’s or borrower’s contribution to mitigating, or adapting to, the impacts of climate change.

– The SEC said Peter Driscoll, director of the division of examinations, will leave the agency, effective August 14. Daniel Kahl, the division’s deputy director, will be named acting director.

‘I thank Dan for stepping into the role of acting director of the division of examinations,’ said SEC chair Gary Gensler in a statement. ‘Dan is an accomplished and respected leader at the SEC, and I look forward to working closely with him. I also thank Pete for his many valuable contributions to the SEC over his nearly two-decade career with the agency. I wish him the best of luck going forward.’

Kahl joined the SEC in 2001 and has served as a deputy director of the division of examinations since 2018 and as the division’s chief counsel since 2016. Driscoll has led the division of examinations (and its predecessor the office of compliance inspections and examinations) since January 2017.

 

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