Former Labour MP Chuka Umunna joins JP Morgan


Oscar Williams-Grut·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UKWed, 10 February 2021, 8:42 am·3-min read

Former MP Chuka Umunna takes part in a discussion about the UK's role on the world stage, during the CBI annual conference at ITN Headquarters in central London. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA via Getty
Former MP Chuka Umunna takes part in a discussion about the UK’s role on the world stage, during the CBI annual conference at ITN Headquarters in central London. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA via Getty

Former UK Labour MP Chuka Umunna is joining American bank JP Morgan (JPM) to spearhead its environmental and ethical investment work in Europe.

Vis Raghavan, JP Morgan’s chief executive of EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), said in a memo to staff on Wednesday that Umunna would be joining the bank as head of ESG — environmental, social, and governance — in his region.

“He has more than 20 years of private and public sector experience in managing ESG issues at a senior level and was recently named one of the top five ESG influencers in the UK,” Raghavan wrote in the memo to JP Morgan staff. “We welcome Chuka to the firm and look forward to supporting his efforts as we bolster our ESG commitment.”

The bank declined to comment.

READ MORE: Former UK Chancellor George Osborne to become full-time banker

Umunna was the MP for Streatham for almost a decade until 2019, serving in Labour shadow cabinet roles including business secretary. He was one of the most prominent faces of the Labour Party during the era and was at one point tipped as a future leader.

An ardent Remainer, Umunna left the Labour party in 2019 to help form a new pro-European party, Change UK. The party failed to gain momentum and Umunna left shortly after. He left politics later that year after failing to contest the Westminster seat in the 2019 election.

Umunna joined communications firm Edelman two years ago, heading up the firm’s ESG consultancy. Umunna’s role at JP Morgan is a newly created position at the bank. He will report directly to Raghavan.

The move into the City will make Umunna one of the most senior and high-profile Black men in UK and European finance. Prior to politics, he worked as a solicitor on M&A deals.

READ MORE: City of London mayor: ‘Climate change bigger threat than COVID’

JP Morgan’s high-profile hire comes amid a wider push across finance to go green. Investors are increasingly interested in ethical and environmentally friendly investments, known as ESG in the industry. ESG funds have grown by tenfold since 2017, according to recent data from Societe Generale, reaching combined assets of $1.6tn (£1.16tn) at the end of 2020.

“As the global community accelerates its focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, there is an increased demand from organizations for ESG-related advice and guidance on best practice,” Raghavan wrote in the internal memo.

“With ESG considerations impacting everything from corporate finance strategies and investment flows to day-to-day operational decisions and capital allocation, clients are looking at how they may need to adapt their business models.”

JP Morgan has been pushing aggressively into the space, particularly in the bond market. The American bank was the world’s biggest underwriter of green bonds last year and is reportedly working with the UK government on its first ever green gilt. Last September the bank issued its own green bond, worth $1bn.