F&C looks forward to the next 30 years of responsible investment!

 Yesterday, at an event hosted by Stewardship Committee of Reference Chair, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby – guests gathered to celebrate 30 years of ethical and responsible investment – and to toast the next 30 years. 

The event was held in Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop’s official residence (pictured).

 The occasion offered an opportunity to remember the far sightedness of the founders of Stewardship, the UK’s first ethical funds.   Indeed, Archbishop Justin Welby – with his unique combination of experience, humour and humility – also offered thoughts around the value of ‘doing what is right’, as the Stewardship funds seek to do, rather than simply focusing on doing what is ‘legal’ as is more common in our field.

The event was however rather more poignant than simply marking a major anniversary. 

Its timing coincided with F&C preparing to hand responsibility for the management of the Stewardship range to brand owners Friends Life (formerly Friends Provident).

Acknowledging this, F&C CEO Richard Wilson delighted those present with reassurances around the company’s continued enthusiasm for the field of responsible investment and the value they place on the expertise and skill of the GSI research team. 

F&C’s loss of the Stewardship brand name and related Life and Pension funds (which account for around ¾ of the total Stewardship assets) is no doubt difficult for those currently involved; however it does make sense.   

The separation of the Stewardship brand ownership (FL) from its day to day management (F&C) has long blighted its success.

Setting both parties free to ‘do their own thing’, and become masters of their own destiny can only be viewed as progress – good for both businesses and good for ethical and responsible investment in general.

Both will soon be free to craft products rooted in a phenomenal shared heritage – but tailor made to respond to the evolving needs of their own, often quite different investor bases.     

My hope for the next 30 years is that both parties will succeed.  And that where once there was a single offering, hampered by the complexities of shared management, soon there will be two suites of SRI options – both working hard to ‘make a difference’ and to ‘do what is right’.


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