Desiree is globally recognized as a top expert and one of the most influential in the practice of sustainable finance. She is known for her candid advocacy to reform policy and practice around ESG and impact investing and is frequently in the media. As a professional speaker, she provides expert insights on the current state and outlook of the ESG movement, the prevention of greenwashing, whistleblowing and risk management.
With over 25 years of experience in sustainable finance and investment banking, she serves a trusted advisor to financial institutions, NGOs and regulators including the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority and the Monetary Authority of Singapore and guest lectures at Cambridge University. Accordingly, she is at the forefront of global efforts to drive greater transparency, accountability and impact in the practice of sustainable finance.
Desiree was Group Sustainability Officer at Deutsche Bank’s asset manager, DWS, when she exposed extensive greenwashing at the company- huge discrepancies between the firm’s public ESG claims and its internal statements and actions. When her concerns as well as her job were dismissed by the C-suite and Board, she decided to speak out publicly. US and German authorities next launched investigations, which culminated in a police raid at the firm’s headquarters, the ousting of the CEO and senior executives at the firm and the largest SEC greenwashing fine.
Desiree’s whistleblowing action sent shockwaves throughout the finance industry and galvanized efforts to tackle greenwashing. She poignantly and candidly tells her story to drive this cautionary yet inspirational tale home for the sake of clearer ESG disclosures and a more evidence-based approach to sustainability.
Prior to DWS, she has held senior roles at JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank and Zais Group, where she built and managed ESG investing and structured credit businesses. Her track record of product innovation includes several award-winning and market transformational products, including the development of the iTraxx and CDX indices, as well as a series of impact securitizations.
Desiree holds a BSc Economics (Hons) from the London School of Economics. She is a member of the CFA’s ESG Technical Committee, a member of the LSE’s Entrepreneurship Advisory Group and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Responsible Investing.
Desiree is a big proponent for greater ESG disclosure requirements and actual delivery on net zero and diversity and inclusion pledges and commitments. She tackles organization set-up, data collection and aggregation, engagement strategies, product development, regulatory readiness and corporate operations.
Desitree discusses and helps companies and investors spot what may be considered ESG-washing in product labels and strategies, statements and pledges. With ESG regulation and enforcement actions greatly on the rise, many companies are having to urgently re-assess the integrity of their products and services and public statements to ensure full and accurate disclosure
Desiree draws on her own experience outing what she considered to be greenwashing practices and the colossal corporate governance failure at DWS, which led to 7 regulatory authorities investigating the firm. It culminated with 50 federal police agents raiding Deutsche Bank and DWS and the removal of the CEO and 20% of the market cap of the company. She discusses how integral it is to speak out against bad practice and about how whistleblowers can avoid a backlash or turn it into an advantage.
Desiree was publicly fired and discredited as a chief sustainability officer of a large asset manager. She speaks about a pretty brutal year of trying to set the record straight, salvage my life and crucially hold the firm to account. She did just that and now has a new life in London working as an ESG consultant to a number of financial institutions and non-profits.
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