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Charities launch ESG ‘investing olympics’

Three charities - the Joffe Trust, the Blagrave Trust and Friends Provident Foundation - have invited asset managers to make proposals for the investment of £33.5 million in an initiative called the ESG 'investing olympics'. The deadline for responses is Friday 7 February 2020.

Unusually the invite is being made publicly, the key instruction is simply to ‘impress us’ on environmental and social impact, and short-listed managers will be asked to present their proposal to an auditorium of mission-led investors. Proposals are being sought from a variety of asset managers, from boutique impact funds intentionally seeking out start-ups with solutions, to large ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) funds moving markets and transnational companies via their stewardship.

There is growing demand from asset owners to have a purpose beyond financial return with their investments. This is reflected by the growth in funds labelled as impact, sustainable, responsible, green or ESG. However, the quality of these funds varies greatly with marketing claims not always aligned with investment practice. We wish to send a market signal that asset owners are demanding higher standards of Impact and ESG investment. Asset managers will recognise that the standards expected by mission-led investors like ourselves today often become the market norms of tomorrow.
Colin Baines, Investment Manager, Friends Provident Foundation

The charities intend to feature short-listed candidates as best in sector in a ‘state of the sector’ report to share learning and signal to the market what emerging best practice and asset owner expectations look like.

We will be looking for intentional social and environmental impact, high standards of ESG integration covering exclusion, engagement and its escalation, voting record, and in-house expertise, plus impact reporting. We know there will be trade-offs between different approaches, and we look forward to seeing which perform well.
Alex Jacobs, Director of the Joffe Charitable Trust
We believe that charities should use all their endowment to achieve their mission, not just their income. Like an increasing number of asset owners, we are seeking to maximise the social and environmental impact of our investments.
Jo Wells, Director of the Blagrave Trust

The Request for Proposals can be downloaded here and the deadline for responses is Friday 7 February 2020.

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