KPMG recruits ex-AustralianSuper boss Ian Silk as part of ESG push

08 December 2021 3 min. read
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Former AustralianSuper chief executive officer Ian Silk has been recruited by KPMG as a part-time special advisor with a focus on ESG – part of a wider push from the firm in the area.

Ian Silk’s has been tasked with advising KPMG clients on environmental, social and governance matters along with infrastructure, strategy, and leadership. KPMG stated that Silk’s appointment is part of a larger ESG push, which includes the launch of a Decarbonisation Hub and ESG training for its entire Australian workforce.

“With one in every three CEOs planning to invest more than 10 per cent of revenue towards enhancing sustainability, ESG is one of our priority investment areas under our refreshed firm strategy,” commented KPMG CEO Andrew Yates.

KPMG recruits ex-AustralianSuper boss Ian Silk as part of ESG push

“At KPMG, we are particularly excited about what Ian can offer our clients. Given his experience, there is no-one in Australia better placed to provide strategic advice about ESG matters.”

Stepping down in October, Silk has served as the CEO of AustralianSuper since its formation in 2006 through the merger of Superannuation Trust of Australia and Australian Retirement Fund, the latter which he led dating back to 1995. During his tenure, AustralianSuper has grown from its initial combined assets of $20 billion to more than $220 billion under management to become Australia’s largest pension fund with almost 2.5 million members.

“ESG issues are fundamentally investment and financial issues,” Silk said. “There is greater recognition in the market that most strong performing companies are those that take ESG matters seriously in the day-to-day running of their businesses. It’s a top order issue in Australia, with companies heavily exposed to climate change risks and regulators are continuing to escalate their expectations in how we should manage those risks.”

Further reading: Pension funds placing more focus on ESG and climate risks

KPMG’s ESG boon

As part of a $1.5 billion global investment over three years, KPMG’s entire 10,000-strong Australian workforce is also set to receive specialist ESG training, which will examine the various aspects of ESG, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and the firm’s own commitments on impact. In addition, KPMG Australia will play a key role in establishing a Decarbonisation Hub to support clients across the ASPAC region.

Working closely alongside member firms in India, China, Germany, the US and UK, the Decarbonisation Hub is designed to serve as a centralised access point to specialist capabilities, allowing its members to tap into leading expertise to better support large multinational clients on their journeys to net-zero. Lower carbon investment opportunities will be one of the Hub’s main areas of focus, along with climate risk and policy advisory.

“The last few years have seen a huge shift in corporate, regulatory, investor and wider stakeholder interest (in sustainability),” said Adrian King, KPMG’s Melbourne-based global lead for ESG & Sustainability Services. “There is now a much wider business understanding of the significance of ESG impacts and even more importantly, investors now see these impacts happening within the time horizons affecting their investment valuations.”