Edwin started his career in academia, earning his PhD in accelerator physics at Cornell before joining the physics faculty to teach classes spanning art fraud detection to arms control to climate change. From Cornell, Edwin made the shift to finance, serving as Director of Multifamily Modeling at Freddie Mac for two years post-crisis, and spending several years at Bank of America on a trading desk in a variety of risk and real estate-related roles, including early highlighting of the credit issues in subprime mortgages and CDOs. He then went on to lead analysis for Western Asset Management’s advisory business, where he helped insurance regulators understand complicated risks.
There are two major reasons companies should prioritize sustainability: First, it is the right thing to do given their obligations to their broad stakeholders. Second, companies cannot be prepared for the changing future in front of us without a good process for evaluating climate risk and opportunity – and investors now expect it.
Working in nature museums as a student gave Edwin the unusual privilege of handling alligators, rather than just the proverbial kind experienced while working in bond trading. His eventual focus on climate risk in some ways grew out of the appreciation of the fragility of the natural world he gained from this work in museums as well as camping. Paired with his physics knowledge and interest in risk, this gave him unique perspective. “While working at a major bank, I applied what I knew about climate change from my years as a physics academic and quickly realized the large effects climate change was likely to have on the economy and financial stability,” he says.
As net-zero and similar pledges become part of companies’ obligations and brand, meeting these creates additional complexity that current systems are often ill-prepared for, leading to “rethinks” of systems from capital allocation to product planning.
Edwin became involved in Oliver Wyman’s climate efforts early on, supporting the firm’s work with the United Nations Environmental Program - Finance Initiative (UNEP-FI), which piloted the recommendations of the Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) with sixteen global banks. This project allowed him to become intimately familiar with the details of the TCFD framework, which more and more companies are moving to embrace given mounting investor and government expectations, he notes. “This shift is leading to new deep strategic thought about their value proposition to equity and debt holders.”