Finance Monthly - May 2022

29 Finance Monthly. Bus i ne s s & Economy investment policy approach. For education bodies, this can involve pupils or students. For other institutions, it can involvemembers of staff. I’m always pleased to see organisations placing value on that kind of engagement activity and finding ways to incorporate the input received into the end policy – it’s healthy good governance. What is abrdn’s own approach to charitable giving? This is something we’re often asked about, as people want to know what kind of company we are and how we interact with the voluntary sector. There are a number of strands to this. At a very local level, during lockdown, we focused on supporting local parklands. Many of us discovered local parks we had not been in before or parks we had not visited in years, during the time when daily walks became part of the necessary rhythm of life. In more recent times, reflecting abrdn’s future focus, we have formed a partnership with Hello World, to fundWIFI hubs inUganda for online education. We’ve recently formed a three-year partnership with UNESCO to support programmes on environmental sustainability, climate change and ocean science. We’re also co-creating the Centre for Investing Innovation at the University of Edinburgh. What are some of the challenges facing charity boards at the moment? Recruitment of trustees often comes up as a theme. I’d encourage anyone reading this to consider whether they might be interested in volunteering some of their time as a charity trustee or finance committee member – finance experience is always sought-after on a charity board. During lockdown, we launched a webinar series specifically aimed at new trustees, called ‘Next Gen Now’. We’ve covered various topics, including how to read and interpret charity accounts (which have their own accounting standards and norms); and an overview of the many different underlying legal structures to be found in the charity sector. We’ve also looked at case studies of how a charity can change its structure. We’ve found our webinar programme better attended than in-person training events ever were. Our NextGen Now webinars are free and open access – visit abrdn. com/discretionary for more information and to view previous webinars. What does the landscape look like for charities in the next year or two? One area to watch is the kind of reporting required in the trustees’ annual reports and accounts. The accounting standards are currently under review and it’s possible that trustees will need to report on a wider range of matters, such as environmental measures. This would not be a surprise, given all parts of the economy and society are going to be in transition to net zero in the period ahead, and measures are likely to emerge to track progress in that area. The carbon footprint of an investment portfolio could be part of that picture, and we’re already seeing interest from charities about that kind of expanded reporting for their investments. “I’d encourage anyone reading this to consider whether they might be interested in volunteering some of their time as a charity trustee or finance committee member – finance experience is always sought-after on a charity board.”

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