Finance Monthly - May 2022

28 Finance Monthly. Bus i ne s s & Economy Julie, tell us a little bit more about your role. My own role is not portfolio management, but rather I find I act as something of a sounding board for the CEOs, Finance Directors or Investment Committee Chairs of clients on a wide range of policy and governance issues. In doing so, I draw on the full range of my experience in the legal and financial sectors, as well as my academic role at Edinburgh Napier University where I am a Visiting Professor in Governance and Innovation. The forward-thinking approach to flexible working at abrdn plc has enabled me to move to part-time hours in recent years, to accommodate my academic work. abrdn plc has offices around the globe with a global AUM of £542bn (as of 31 December 2021). The focus of my work involves supporting colleagues in the specialist Charities Investment Team in London, Edinburgh and Leeds in particular, as well as liaising with colleagues in our Jersey office. The firm offers investment solutions for charities across the spectrum ranging from liquidity funds to ethically screened bespoke portfolios, to private market solutions. What are the current trends for charity investors? First and foremost, I’ve had a series of conversations with charity boards recently about environmental themes and how they can be reflected in their investment policy and portfolio. This began before COP26 in Glasgow and has continued since, in particular for health bodies and charities focused on young people. There are a range of options abrdn offers charity clients in how they can look to align their portfolio with their charitable purposes. For some charities, they choose to stay invested in oil and gas, preferring that we focus our plc efforts on engagement and voting to influence corporate change in companies that way (to the extent we can alone, or with others in industry coalitions such as Climate Action 100+). Other charities choose to exclude investment in coal/tar sands, for example or have screens relating to biodiversity. There are also a number of charities that avoid investment in coal, oil and gas, either for alignment with their charitable purposes or reputational risk reasons. It’s not a “one size fits all” approach. A reason that we are able to go into depth in how we accommodate individual charity requirements is due to our investment approach, which involves global stockpicking. This means a charity is not faced with a ‘take it or leave it’ pre-determined set of screens that come with a fund: instead, screens can be shaped individually by each charity and we then apply these at individual stock level across a bespoke portfolio of stocks. A more recent trend has been around positive impact investment, aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This approach filters investments to focus on those addressing the world’s key challenges, such as clean water, clean energy and good health, to name just three. A new development in the last year or so has been the interest shown by some charities in taking on board the input from key stakeholders when framing their “Amore recent trend has been around positive impact investment, aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This approach filters investments to focus on those addressing the world’s key challenges, such as clean water, clean energy and good health, to name just three.”

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