Abigail Disney

Disney heiress to speak at sustainable summit as the issue moves up the agenda for family offices


Abigail Disney, never shy when criticising excessive executive pay, will call for action from asset managers over governance and sustainability issues at a summit hosted by Responsible Investor in New York on 4-5 December.

Disney is a descendent of the family which founded the Walt Disney Company, the entertainment group. She hit the headlines earlier this year when she slammed the $66 million remuneration of Bob Iger, Disney chief executive, as “insane”, compared to the low pay collected by many of his workers. She denounced his financial pledges to employees as “claptrap.”

The conference will also salute the role played by family offices in backing tech-driven sustainable opportunities, such as plant-based meat

Asset managers have also been accused of poor corporate governance, putting their fee income first. They stand accused of failing to implement pledges to invest in a sustainable fashion. 

A client lobby for improvements is gaining strength, including a view that executive pay should be linked to green benchmarks, as oil group Royal Shell has pledged. 

Asset managers have generally failed to back this idea for fear that their own pay structure will be criticised. They are also under attack for failing to beat their index benchmarks.

Abigail Disney will use her speech to argue how she thinks sustainable and socially fair investment should look, based on her experience of dealing with the profession. 

The conference will also salute the role played by family offices in backing tech-driven sustainable opportunities, such as plant-based meat. Family Capital has highlighted this in a recent Viewpoint. Breakthrough Energy, led by Bill Gates, is another global initiative, backed by wealthy individuals, like Jeff Bezos and Mukesh Ambani, to find sources of clean energy.

Individuals on the conference panel will include Amy Farrell, senior sustainable specialist at UBS, and Raymond Joseph, co-head of Citi Investment Management. 

Its presentations will also debate regulatory action from the European Union on sustainability in the institutional and high-net-worth arena, which is likely to lead to the development of low-carbon benchmarks.

UN deputy secretary-general Amina Mohammed will also be speaking at the conference, along with Jeffrey Sachs, director of sustainable development at Columbia University. 

The presentations follow the publication of data which shows a continuing rise in carbon emissions, despite a pledge to keep them under control at the 2016 Paris accord. 

Responsible Investor is a UK online publication dedicated to sustainable issues. Its conference is free to enter for asset owners, including family offices. Click here for details

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