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Ethical Investing for the Long Term
24 June 2014
Global investment manager, Standard Life Investments reflects on ten years of ethical investing in the £206.3m Standard Life Investments UK Ethical Fund and highlights the results of its 2014 Annual Ethical Investor Survey which shows that good Business Ethics, Corporate Governance and Engagement are important to investors.
During the last decade, the Fund has grown in size almost four fold1 returning 149.3%* to investors versus the UK All Companies sector average of 129%* and its ethical subsector average of 120.2%*. The fund has returned above median performance over all key time periods in the UK All Companies Sector and has been a consistent top quartile performer in its ethical subsector*.
The UK Ethical Fund aims to provide long-term growth by investing in a diversified portfolio of UK equities that meet Standard Life Investments’ ethical criteria. It benefits from Standard Life Investments’ successful UK Equity team approach, its robust focus on change investment process and has a Morningstar OBSR Analyst Bronze rating.
Lesley Duncan, Manager of Standard Life Investments UK Ethical Fund, said;
“I’m in the privileged position of being able to reflect on the changing sentiment of ethical investors over a decade. Our research shows that the ethical criteria that remain important to our investors have been consistent over the years with areas like – weapons, tobacco, human rights and environmental issues high on the radar.
“Interestingly however Business Ethics, which focusses on Corporate Governance practices, anti-corruption practises and company remuneration policies, has become a recent area of interest for our ethical investors. These are in themselves themes that are close to the heart of Standard Life Investments and which are driven by our long-standing and well established approach in influencing the companies in which we invest through our proactive approach in engagement.
“Our most recent ethical investor survey also indicates that investors believe that board level committees should exist to oversee environmental, social and health and safety matters and reveals very high interest lending as being a new area our investors are concerned about.
“Standard Life Investments is one of the only ethical fund providers to survey its investors on an annual basis which helps enormously in developing strong ethical fund criteria. It has been extremely rewarding managing the UK Ethical Fund knowing that investors views are contributing to the decision making process. The views of our investors actively help mould the criteria used in accepting positive or negative screening suggestions for the fund. Additionally, the consistent outperformance of this Fund reflects the fact that investors do not have to sacrifice performance by taking their ethics into consideration whilst making investment decisions.”
Standard Life Investments has a dedicated Governance and Stewardship team which was set up in 1992 and is recognised as one of the leading UK institutions in this area. In September 2013, Standard Life Investments reinforced its commitment to Ethical Investing and Responsible Investment (RI) with the appointment of Amanda Young as Head of Responsible Investment (RI) and Rebecca Maclean and Alix Chosson as RI analysts joining Andrew Mason, RI Analyst, who joined in 2012.
* Source; Financial Express, all data to 31/05/2014, bid to bid using the retail share-class