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Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

PRI reporting framework 2020

You are in Strategy and Governance » Investment policy

Investment policy

SG 01. RI policy and coverage

New selection options have been added to this indicator. Please review your prefilled responses carefully.

01.1. Indicate if you have an investment policy that covers your responsible investment approach.

01.2. Indicate the components/types and coverage of your policy.

Select all that apply

Policy components/types

Coverage by AUM

01.3. Indicate if the investment policy covers any of the following

01.4. Describe your organisation’s investment principles and overall investment strategy, interpretation of fiduciary (or equivalent) duties,and how they consider ESG factors and real economy impact.

We are a Quaker trust, which seeks to transform the world by supporting people who address the root causes of conflict and injustice. Our investments, and our behaviour as an investor, contribute to this aim.

It follows that our investment strategy needs to strike the right balance, financially and in terms of trustee and staff time, between:

1. Funding the Trust’s grant making programmes over the long term
2. Investing in enterprises which seek to realise our aims
3. Avoiding investing in corporations whose activities conflict with our aims
4. Encouraging business to be ethical, socially responsible and to protect the environment.

We do not look to make short term, speculative, gains.  Instead we align our interests with those of the companies in which we invest and take our responsibilities as the owner of these assets seriously. We expect to be long term shareholders, sharing the rewards of the success of the companies in which we are invested.

Our experience in recent years underpins our belief that we do not  need to sacrifice financial returns to invest ethically or responsibly, but neither will we allow financial returns to be our sole consideration when making investment decisions.

01.5. Provide a brief description of the key elements, any variations or exceptions to your investment policy that covers your responsible investment approach. [Optional]

Investing in enterprises which seek to realise our aims

We aim to invest in sustainable companies which operate with integrity and whose products or services meet the basic needs of people and protect the natural environment on which we all depend.

We wish to invest in companies which offer solutions to problems such as climate change, resource constraints and loss of biodiversity.

We are also prepared to invest in enterprises which aim to generate social and environmental returns in line with our mission and our grantees’ work, even if they are not expecting to produce market levels of financial returns.

Avoiding investing activities which conflict with our aims

We do not invest in companies whose primary business is the extraction of fossil fuels

We avoid companies materially involved in armaments, gambling, tobacco and new generation nuclear power stations, and government bonds issued by states with high military expenditure or oppressive regimes. We avoid extractive industries with poor human rights or environmental practices.

We do not invest directly in companies which are profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestine.

We recognise that ethics are not always clear-cut and that difficult judgments need to be made. While on some issues a firm position is taken, on others the degree of a company’s involvement in a questionable area is taken into account, along with indications of improving practices and positive features of its activities.

Encouraging business to be ethical, socially responsible and to protect the environment

The Trust engages with companies, both directly and through its fund managers, to try to improve practices and may, in the event of on-going concerns, sell its shares and/or change its fund managers.

To assist our fund managers in understanding our engagement priorities, we occasionally produce publicly available statements outlining our expectations of our fund managers when engaging with companies on certain topics such a corporate tax or in certain sectors such as the technology sector. We encourage other asset owners to use these statements when engaging with their own investment managers to share best practice.

We recognise that collaborative engagement can often be more effective than engaging alone. We are therefore are happy to collaborate with other investors, such with our colleagues in the Church Investors Group and through the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI)’s Collaboration Platform.  Collaborative engagement has the advantage of improving the efficiency of engagement programmes for all participants by sharing best practice, pooling resources and leveraging a greater shareholder base to effect change.

We are also happy to support organisations working in areas of concern to us including the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, the Carbon Disclosure Project and the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association.

We wish to continue to lead by example as a responsible investor with the aim of improving corporate governance and social and environmental impacts.  We encourage other investors to join us in following best practice as set out in standards such as the PRI and we have responded to the Financial Reporting Council (FRC)’s UK Stewardship Code. We believe this to be in the interest of society at large as well as in our long term financial interest.

How we invest

The majority of our endowment is invested through fund managers who have signed up to, and adhere to, the PRI and FRC UK Stewardship Code.  We look for fund managers who integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into their routine investment processes. In selecting our fund managers we are careful to differentiate between the growing band of investment managers who claim integration but whose investment practice does not rely on it and those for whom such integration forms the basis of their investment approach and is a key driver of investment returns.

We also appreciate those fund managers who are willing to take into account our engagement objectives through:

  • following up our specific concerns with investee companies
  • taking our/our grantees’ engagement ideas forward
  • taking part in collaborative engagement initiatives which we support.

There are a small number of companies in which we directly invest.  We accept that the way we look at these investments is not as a financial analyst/fund manager would do but by building a relationship with the management team over time and familiarising ourselves with the business. 

How we measure performance

We take a long term view of performance as is appropriate for our time horizon and above average risk tolerance.  We monitor the market value of our fund holdings and other securities using returns over a rolling three year period. 

We measure the performance of our managers against bespoke benchmarks and where screening has a material impact will run a concurrent screened benchmark.

We measure performance post fees and ask our managers to provide performance data that is annualised, post fees and in sterling, where fees are measured as a total expense ratio.

How we deal with risk

We manage risk in a number of ways including the following:

  • we avoid incomprehensible, speculative and opaque investments 
  • we meet regularly with, and receive reports from, our fund managers and have robust procedures in place for monitoring their financial and non-financial performance, including engagement
  • our fund managers and directly managed investments are kept under regular review
  • we ensure that individuals with relevant expertise serve on our Investment Committee.


We report on our investment activities in a number of ways:

  • our investment strategy and other investment policy documents are published on our website
  • our investment performance, both financial and non-financial, including for example, our engagement activities over the course of the last year, are included in our annual report which is published on our website
  • information on our holdings is published on our website
  • we expect all our fund managers to disclose their policy on voting on their website and we encourage them to publicly disclose their voting record.  Voting information on those shareholdings which trustees directly manage themselves is available on request
  • our response to the FRC UK Stewardship Code is published on our website.


01.6. Additional information [Optional].


SG 01 CC. Climate risk

01.6 CC. Indicate whether your organisation has identified transition and physical climate-related risks and opportunities and factored this into the investment strategies and products, within the organisation’s investment time horizon.

Describe the identified transition and physical climate-related risks and opportunities and how they have been factored into the investment strategies/products.

  • We have divested fully from fossil fuels.
  • We invest through sustainable funds.
  • We hold some thematic investment in environmental funds.

01.7 CC. Indicate whether the organisation has assessed the likelihood and impact of these climate risks?

Describe the associated timescales linked to these risks and opportunities.

We believe that we, and our managers, should be working towards the targets laid down in the Paris Agreement.

01.8 CC. Indicate whether the organisation publicly supports the TCFD?

01.9 CC. Indicate whether there is an organisation-wide strategy in place to identify and manage material climate-related risks and opportunities.


We engage with our managers on identifying and managing material climate-related risks and opportunities.

1.10 CC. Indicate the documents and/or communications the organisation uses to publish TCFD disclosures.

SG 02. Publicly available RI policy or guidance documents


02.1. Indicate which of your investment policy documents (if any) are publicly available. Provide a URL and an attachment of the document.



02.2. Indicate if any of your investment policy components are publicly available. Provide URL and an attachment of the document.

02.3. Additional information [Optional].

SG 03. Conflicts of interest

03.1. Indicate if your organisation has a policy on managing potential conflicts of interest in the investment process.

03.2. Describe your policy on managing potential conflicts of interest in the investment process.

The Trust has a written conflicts of interest policy for trustees, co-opted members, staff and advisors which was updated in 2017 and reflects statutory guidance.  We expect our fund managers to manage conflicts of interest in accordance with the FRC UK Stewardship Code.

03.3. Additional information. [Optional]

SG 04. Identifying incidents occurring within portfolios

04.1. Indicate if your organisation has a process for identifying and managing incidents that occur within investee entities.

04.2. Describe your process on managing incidents

We expect our fund managers to engage with investee companies on incidents that occur within them and, where material, report on these matters to us. We will also ask our fund managers about material incidents that have come to our attention, either through the media or our grantees, to ascertain how both the fund managers and the companies themselves are responding to them. We will do this either when we meet with them as part of our routine business or on an ad hoc basis if the issues warrant immediate attention, We will push our fund managers to engage further if we still have ongoing concerns. For example, in the year we engaged with two of our fund managers following the merger of Informa with UBM which runs arms exhibitions.