Friends Life, Stewardship – and Aviva

The plan for this blog had been to tell readers about the changes to the Stewardship funds that will result from Friends Life taking ‘proper ownership’ of the Stewardship brand – having left it in the care of former subsidiary F&C for many years – yet events have overtaken somewhat, with Aviva rather gate crashing the party.

But first – Stewardship:

The Stewardship (Life and Pension) funds are currently in the process of moving across to new managers Schroders, who will manage them on behalf of brand owners Friends Life.   Schroders, although not well known for their ethical credentials in the retail world none the less do have significant ESG/Ethical experience in the institutional market.  

Below is a link to last week’s webinar (17 November 2014) where Friends and Schroders explain their new relationship and responsibilities.

The webinar, run by Mikkel Bates (the new me?) of Friends – provided an update on the Stewardship principles, a summary of the investment policies they are adopting (as a result of a recent review of Stewardship) and an introduction to the responsible investment experience of Schroders.

In essence, both companies were keen to express their support for the Stewardship brand, however as an old hand it seems to me that the changes that are being implemented will suit some people but not others.  The intentions seem honourable however and this was always going to happen at some stage… so lets hope it works well.   

And on to Aviva…

Meanwhile news of a rather bigger story has broken this weekend .  Insurer Aviva is, according to sources, in takeover talks with Fiends Life, owners of the Stewardship brand.    

Sticking to my onions – I can safely say that this could be very interesting – even potentially exciting for SRI/Stewardship – given Aviva’s  ESG expertise and commitment.  Where this might leave Schroders however I have no idea, although you would have to assume there will be lengthy and complicated contracts in place.

Again, we don’t know what the future holds – and presumably no one ‘in the know’ would ‘comment on speculation’…   

The fact Aviva previously sold off the excellent ‘Sustainable Futures’ range  is however a potential concern (although it was a great result for Alliance Trust!)   

If Aviva have been keeping at least half an eye on the success of ATI they may think that ‘support’ rather than ‘sell’ could just have made sense … but  if not, Stewardship’s future might become turbulent whether Friends like it or not.

Oh to have a crystal ball!

Comments and thoughts – as ever – welcome via Twitter @JuliaDreblow or email


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