Alan Smith is to take over as First Church Estates Commissioner and hence chair the committee responsible for the strategic management of the Church Commissioners’ £9.2bn (€10.8bn) investment portfolio, according to a UK government announcement yesterday.

Smith is senior adviser, ESG risk and inclusion, at HSBC and a member of the bank’s ESG steering committee and its climate business council.

He has been a Church Commissioner since 2018 and as the incoming First Church Estates Commissioner will take over from Loretta Minghella, who last year said she would be standing down this summer to take up a position at Cambridge University.

Smith said he intended to continue Minghella’s “impactful work with the investment team to address climate change, explore opportunities to enhance the supply of affordable housing, and maintain the Church’s exceptional track record on responsible investment returns”.

Church Commissioners have a multi-year history of active engagement with companies, including Exxon, and was an early supporter of the campaign led by Engine No.1 to reshape the oil major’s board.

The First Church Estates Commissioner is a government appointment that must be signed off by HM the Queen. Church of England said Smith was appointed following a rigorous recruitment process.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, chair of the Commissioners’ Board of Governors, said: “Climate change is the most urgent challenge we face, and Alan’s knowledge of environmental issues and risk management will be critically important for the Commissioners’ work.”

The Church Commissioners are members of the UN Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance.

Smith is also a trustee and strategy sub-committee member at the Global Association of Risk Professionals and a member of the advisory board at the Centre for Risk Studies at the Judge Business School, Cambridge University.

At HSBC he previously chaired the bank’s pension risk oversight forum, which was responsible for stewardship of the bank’s global pension schemes of over $50bn, and was a member of its group asset and liability management committee, which oversees HSBC’s $2.7trn balance sheet.

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