ESG Investing: Meaningful or Misguided?

06 Jun 2023 | 05:30 pm - 08:00 pm

Join us as our panel of experts grapples with several critical ideas surrounding the controversy, efficacy, and future of ESG investing. They will debate the following questions, among others:

Can ESG-focused investing produce the best returns while also positively impacting the world?

Shouldn’t a responsible wealth manager just focus on returns and allow the investor to choose whether and how to change the world with their earnings?

Can a misguided ESG emphasis cause more harm than good to both the investor and those on the ground who are supposed to benefit from a specific investment strategy?

Can specifically Catholic values be integrated and given preference in an overall ESG strategy?


Catherine Flax

Founding Member, President – Private Markets

X Machina Capital Strategies

    Catherine Flax is the President of Private Markets at X Machina Capital Strategies. As a passionate coach, advisor, mentor, board member, and trustee, she brings decades of experience in building successful businesses in financial services, technology, professional services, and commodities.

    Most recently, Catherine served as CEO of Pefin, the world’s first artificial intelligence financial advisor. Earlier, she worked at BNP Paribas, where she served as CEO, commodities, foreign exchange, and emerging markets. Catherine also worked at J.P. Morgan, serving as both CMO globally, as well as CEO, commodities EMEA. She has also previously served as a board member for J.P. Morgan Securities, Limited, Digital Asset Holdings, and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA).

    Catherine earned her BS in economics from Texas A&M University and her MA in economics from Brown University. In 2011, she was named the “Most Influential Woman in European Financial Markets”. Catherine currently serves on the advisory boards of some of the world’s most Innovative companies. She also is a board member of the Aggies on Wall Street Program at Texas A&M University, as well as a trustee at the Holy Family Church in New York City. 


    Richard A. Fontes

    ESG Product Manager

    State Street Corporation

    Richard A. Fontes, CFA, is ESG Product Manager at State Street Corporation. He focuses on integrating ESG factors and data sets into State Street’s products and services across the investment lifecycle such as investment decisions making tools in the front-end performance and attribution tools in the middle-office and environmental attribute accounting platforms in the back office. He envisions new ways of integrating ESG considerations into business lines such as private markets, impact investing, and access to carbon markets. Richard focuses on product strategy and development, marketing and commercialization efforts, and project management. 

    Richard holds a B.S. in Business Administration and Finance from Merrimack College. He earned an M.B.A. at the Questrom School of Business at Boston University with a concentration in ESG and Impact Investing. While at Questrom, he was a member of a team of faculty and practitioners engaged in research projects examining the materiality of metrics used in impact investing and examining the Green Bond market.

    Richard lives in suburban Boston and is passionate about exploring the outdoors, sailing, and crossfitting. He is a committed, practicing Catholic who shares that his Faith “informs everything he does”.

    Chris McMahon

    Founding Partner

    MFA Wealth

    A Pittsburgh native, Chris is an accomplished entrepreneur and devoted family man. MFA Wealth, the company Chris founded in 1986, is today one of Pennsylvania’s most prolific firms of its kind and expanding rapidly nationwide. For 35 years, Chris and his associates have advised their clients in the areas of comprehensive financial planning, asset allocation, retirement planning and estate tax minimization techniques. Chris is a pioneer in technology-enabled methodology in financial services especially the practical deployment of artificial intelligence and quantitative analytics. Mastery of these advanced techniques has enabled MFA Wealth to grow exponentially in terms of assets under management and deliver explosive results on behalf of clients. MFA Wealth is annually rated one of Pittsburgh’s best places to work and for five straight years has been listed on AdvisoryHQ’s prestigious Top Ranked Wealth Management Firms list. In 2019, Chris received the coveted Fox Rothschild Outstanding CEO award, adding to a long list of prior industry recognitions he has earned. 

    Chris graduated from Duquesne University in 1986 with a BA in economics. He also earned the ChFC (Chartered Financial Consultant) designation from the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, in 1990. In 2005, Chris earned the AWMA (Accredited Wealth Management Advisor) designation through the College for Financial Planning in Denver, Colorado. Chris and Molly are the proud parents of Kate, Will, Jack, Hugh, and Emma. An athlete and lover of all sports throughout his life, Chris is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo, taekwondo and hapkido. The McMahons live in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania, and Stone Harbor, New Jersey.