CCLA manages investment for charities, religious organisations and the public sector. That is all we do.
The delivery of long-term sustainable returns is a central requirement for our clients. Therefore, we seek to take a long-term approach to investment management. When identifying new opportunities for our equity and multi-asset funds we aim to invest for a minimum of five years and are aware that the time horizon for our many of our charity clients is much longer. For this reason, responsible investment and stewardship is at the core of our investment approach.
Our responsible investment philosophy is based upon three principles:
First, our experience suggests that conventional financial modelling only gives part of the answer as to what makes a company a good investment even within our standard investment time horizon. So, before investing, we carefully assess the environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards of all companies. We believe that companies in the most carbon intensive sectors or with either the poorest standards of corporate governance/other unmitigated ESG risks are likely to under-perform over the medium to long-term. For this reason, we implement strict processes to identify and then restrict these companies from our investment universe. This approach has made, and continues to make, a demonstrable impact upon the composition of our portfolios. For instance, our equity funds have a carbon footprint that is roughly one third of that of the MSCI World Index. Our approach to ESG integration does not end once we have purchased a stock. Instead, we recognise that things can go wrong at even the best managed companies. For this reason, we have an ongoing process of monitoring and engagement to improve companies' ESG risk management. We hold a limited number of securities, enabling us to engage (in some form) with every company at least once per year.
Second, we recognise that investment markets will only be able to deliver sustainable, long-term, returns if they are located within a healthy environment and stable society and that future generations of trustees should be able to benefit from the same investment opportunities as todays. We, therefore, seek to play a role in building a sustainable future. We allocate capital to investments that provide a positive environmental or societal benefit and, through active engagement, help companies improve on selected, systemic, issues that might not be identified through conventional ESG risk modelling. We aim to engage with all companies in our portfolios once a year and dedicate the most time and resource to working with those that face more significant challenges. This work continues to deliver results on areas as varied as mitigating climate change and fighting modern slavery in company supply chains. We also recognise that engagement with public policy makers can help to deliver positive change through the development of progressive legislation and regulation. We are members of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change and engage directly with politicians and civil servants where we have particular expertise.
Third, we know that many charities seek to reflect their values and ethos in their investments and most trustees are conscious that a hard-won reputation can be undermined by inappropriate investments. For this reason, our funds for charities and churches are managed to ethical investment policies that are based upon the preferences of their unitholders. We recognise that charities’ ethical priorities do not stand still, so we regularly update our policies through a three-yearly client consultation process and, for our Church of England Funds, work directly with the Church's Ethical Investment Advisory Group.
Finally, we know that good responsible investment policies must be more than well written words in an Annual Report. We have made achieving at least an ‘A’ Grade in all applicable areas of the Principles for Responsible Investment’s (PRI) Annual Assessment a core, company-wide, Key Performance Indicator.