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ESG executives are being recruited by Bank of America Private Bank and Merrill Lynch

Although Republicans have been backlashing against investing in environmental, social, and governance themes, Bank of America is betting on the trend’s viability. 

According to CEO Brian Moynihan in May, financing the global shift to a greener economy is a “big business opportunity.” After he made comments in May, the financial giant bolstered its ESG executive team. A bank recently announced the creation and filling of a role dedicated to developing new ESG-themed products and encouraging advisors to apply ESG strategies. 

Bank of America spokesperson says Julia Shin joined Merrill in September as ESG integration and innovation executive. As director of Investment Solutions Group Products, Shin will report to Keith Glenfield. 

Shin will collaborate with two other wealth executives on ESG, a bank spokesperson said. Both executives work for Merrill and Private Bank’s Sustainable & Impact Investing team, which is part of the chief investment office. In addition to being head of due diligence, Anna Snider is now leading the CIO’s ESG strategy. According to her LinkedIn profile, Snider worked at Bank of America researching alternative investments. As part of her role expansion, Sarah Norman is now head of ESG thought leadership at the CIO office. 

As noted on the Merrill website’s impact investing page, more than a third of all client assets – more than $53 trillion – could be invested under some form of ESG strategy by 2025. The article cited a 2021 Bloomberg Intelligence report which identified ESG as a “gold rush” in Europe, where it first gained popularity, and predicted that it would spread to the United States and Asia as well. 

Her background is in corporate and investment banking. In Shin’s LinkedIn profile, she says she started out at Goldman Sachs, then moved on to Citigroup before joining the nonprofit world.

At Enterprise Community Partners, an affordable housing nonprofit based in Maryland, Shin headed up impact investing. However, she’s an investment banker. On Shin’s LinkedIn profile, it is stated that her career began at Goldman Sachs, then moved to Citigroup before joining the nonprofit sector.

The public conversation about environmental, social, and governance has become skeptic in recent years, and critics have noted that there has been an increase in “greenwashing” in so-called ESG funds, which are sometimes painted with virtue labels that do not appear to be reflected in the activities of the companies included. Right-wing legislators are also attacking ESG, deeming it a “woke” approach that should be punished. 

Among other American banks, Bank of America has recently filed a lawsuit against the Kentucky attorney general alleging that he has stifled its business freedoms by requiring banks to disclose their ESG data.