Financial expert delivers climate risk masterclass


A member of the University of Leeds alumni community has given a masterclass on climate risk during a visiting lecture.

Mark Hughes, non-executive board member at Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) and former Chief Risk Officer (CRO) at Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), delivered a lecture to Accounting and Finance students in the Esther Simpson Building.  

He spoke about the ongoing climate situation and current global risks, covering physical and transitional risk, climate risk drivers and their triggers.  

It was fantastic to hear the real-world examples with a unique perspective on finance.” 

Nabeha Dhar, a current student studying MSc Banking and International Finance.

The talk also touched on greenwashing and the legal and reputational climate risks. A discussion followed on what financial institutions should do to manage climate risks and the strategies companies can use to analyse such risks.  

He said: “Financial institutions globally recognise our changing climate creates risks for all aspects of their businesses. If we are to achieve progress towards net zero, financial institutions must work with their customers and clients to ensure an orderly transition and sustainable finance is available.”  

Following the talk, a Q&A session gave students the opportunity to ask questions. Topics included how new developments in fintech will impact climate risk, inequality with climate risks and whether countries such as the UK should be more aggressive or cautious with transitioning to net zero.  

Nabeha Dhar, a student studying MSc Banking and International Finance, said: “I found the lecture really informative, and it was great to learn more about such a current and topical issue. It was fantastic to hear the real-world examples with a unique perspective on finance.” 

Professor Jeff Grabill, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Education, said: “These lectures enrich our student experience here at Leeds and provide invaluable opportunities to interact with industry leaders. We are delighted Mark Hughes has returned to the University to continue sharing his expert knowledge with our students.”  

Mark received his Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from the University of Leeds in 1979 and went on to complete his MBA (Finance) at Manchester Business School. 

During his career, Mark spent more than 35 years working for the RBC in Canada, the US and UK. He was appointed as RBC’s Group CRO in 2014 and supervised the strategic management of risk on an enterprise-wide basis. 

He retired in 2018 and is now a visiting scholar at Leeds University Business School, as well as being a member of the Board of Directors of UBS, chair of the Risk Committee and member of the Corporate Culture and Responsibility Committee.  

The visit was arranged by the Accounting and Finance Department at Leeds University Business School.  

Professor Konstantinos Bozos, Chair in International Accounting and Finance and Head of the Accounting and Finance Department at Leeds University Business School said: “It is a great pleasure to welcome back Mark Hughes to the University.

“These opportunities offer our students tremendous insights on the topic of climate risk and a unique chance to learn from such an esteemed expert in the field.” 

Further information  

Photo caption: Mark Hughes with Dr Danilo Mascia, Associate Professor in Banking and FinTech at the University of Leeds.

For more information, please contact Rebecca Hurrey at in the University of Leeds Press Office.