Leading UK fund managers turn to socially responsible investment

Morely Fund Management, part of the insurance giant CGNU, has announced that it is to employ seven new investment professionals to focus on socially responsible investment (SRI).

Formed by the merger of CGU and Norwich Union earlier this year, CGNU is now one of the world’s largest insurance companies, of which Morely is one of its institutional fund management subsidiaries. The seven new investment professionals are from Henderson Investment, one of the UK’s leading institutional asset management firms, with a reputation for socially responsible investment.

“A key factor attracting the new Morley SRI team was the commitment of CGNU to be a leader on environmental issues and to demonstrate social responsibility in its corporate activities,” said Keith Jones, Morley’s Managing Director. “Morley believes that with the addition of these professionals, we will become not just one of the leading players but the leading player in SRI activity.”

In order to ensure that the companies in which Morely invests do achieve the social responsibility criteria, regarding factors such as sustainable development, human rights, and environmental issues, the investment company enters into dialogue with them, a Morely spokesman explained to edie. Occupational pension schemes now have a legal requirement to take into account social, environmental and ethical issues, the spokesman said.

“As investors, we increasingly believe that good environmental and social practice is synonymous with good management of companies and, in turn, good share price performance,” said Jones. “More of our clients are asking and expecting their fund managers to maintain an effective engagement policy with the companies in which they invest. The expansion of our SRI capability will make Morely’s position clear and credible to those clients.”

Friends of the Earth (FoE), who lead a campaign earlier this year aimed at Norwich Union and what they regarded as a lack of socially responsible investment policies, has welcomed the announcement. “Socially responsible investment has now gone mainstream,” said Tony Juniper, Policy and Campaigns Director at FoE. “Financial companies who continue to ignore ethical or environmental concerns will lose customers to those who don’t. In responding to our campaign for greener investment policies, CGNU have gained a competitive advantage. We will make it our business to highlight City firms who continue to operate without ethical standards.”

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