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St Catharine’s commits to ethical investment strategy

18.11.20

St Catharine’s College today published our new investment policy, which demonstrates our commitment to ethical and other issues of social responsibility – including working to address climate change as one of the biggest challenges that humanity has ever faced. 

The policy sets out the different ways that the College intends to realise this commitment, including:

  • The College does not and will not invest directly in companies with more than 10% of their business in the fossil fuel, arms, tobacco or gambling industries;
  • Hiring investment managers with ambitious shareholder engagement goals, including those that combine divestment and engagement to good effect;
  • Not investing in funds that focus on companies whose activities run counter to the environmental and social values of the College;
  • Managing the College’s own agricultural land to maximise long-term soil health and biodiversity; and
  • Engaging our bank on fossil fuel lending in particular and aiming to switch providers if the bank’s activities continue to run counter to the College’s values.

The policy also explains that the College only holds indirect investments, primarily through two funds:

  • The Future World ESG Developed Index Fund managed by Legal & General Investment Management, who engage with companies to ensure that they integrate environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors into their everyday activities; and
  • The COIF Charities Ethical Investment Fund managed by CCLA Investment Management Limited, who engage with companies to achieve positive changes in business practice and apply a number of ethical restrictions.

Professor Sir Mark Welland, Master of St Catharine’s, said, “Today’s announcement firmly places the latest environmental, social and corporate governance standards at the heart of St Catharine’s investment strategy. Thank you to everyone who has worked tirelessly to ensure our approach is led by our community’s shared values and aspirations.”

Dora Robinson and Nadene Dermody, the MCR’s green officers, added, “We applaud St Catharine’s new policy and changing of investment managers. We view this as a positive step towards divestment and achieving net zero carbon emissions, and are encouraged by the College’s commitment in this regard.”

Alice Horrell, the JCR’s ethical and environmental officer, commented, “The new investment strategy news is incredibly exciting and urgently needed. This move by the College shows a commitment to fighting the climate crisis and this has a great deal of the support amongst the student body. The metronome climate clock in New York tells us that we have roughly 7 years until our planet reaches the point of no return and it is important decisions like this one that will attempt to reverse this trend.”

Background

The new policy is the result of painstaking work over more than a year to carefully review the College’s existing investments, define a set of principles to guide future investment decisions and then invite tenders from investment managers who shared these principles.

Nicola Robert, Bursar, commented, “The investment strategy review carried out by the College’s Investment Committee in 2019 has provided the foundation for all our work since, culminating in today’s announcement. This review enabled us to identify partners who will manage our investments with the interests of future generations in mind, not solely through their performance and demonstrating value for money, but also by upholding important ethical standards and striving for positive change across a range of industries.”

The appointment of new investment managers in early 2020 coincided with significant disruption to the financial markets triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The College has carefully paced the movement of funds between new and existing managers in light of these difficult circumstances, and expects to complete the transition by January 2021.

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