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Investments

During the year ended 31 July 2021, the College’s Investment Committee undertook a review of its governance arrangements, including its advisers, following the acquisition of Sandaire by Schroders / Cazenove in December 2020.  The Investment Committee considered a number of possible investment strategies and decided to invest the majority of the endowment on a fully delegated basis.  Following a tender process, which included the incumbent adviser, Sandaire (Cazenove), the Investment Committee selected two new advisers, Partners Capital and OU Endowment Management (“OUEM”).

The College’s endowment and repayment fund (together totalling £99.3 million at 30 September 2021) is still in transition with £3.4 million invested with Cazenove, as shown in the table below. Currently, 76% of the College’s investments have been moved across to the new advisers as to 51% to Partners Capital and 25% to OUEM.

Analysis of endowment and repayment fund – values at 30 September 2021

Property: £20.9 million, 21%

Cazenove: £3.4 million, 3%

OUEM: £25.1 million, 25%

Partners Capital: £49.9 million, 51%

Total: £99.3 million

Statement by Partners Capital

Although Partners Capital do not have a “public” statement to divest from all direct fossil-fuel investments, the College holds no direct fossil-fuel, coal or tar sands investments through the Partners Capital portfolio. Our policy is not to allocate to any funds that specialise in fossil-fuel, coal or tar sands companies. As Partners Capital predominantly invests through third-party asset managers, our focus is on ensuring that we consider how our third-party investment managers integrate these principles into their investment process. We survey all our asset managers every year, evaluate their climate policies in response to our framework and engage with them to improve their considerations of climate issues.

More broadly, our overall aim is to encourage the asset management industry to improve their ESG credentials over time. In April 2021, we became a member of the Institutional Investor Group for Climate Change (IIGCC), a more broadly adopted framework in the industry. The IIGCC is a European membership body for investor collaboration on climate change with over 300 institutional investors, mainly pension funds and asset managers, representing €37T in assets under management. IIGCC members collaborate on the Net Zero Investment Framework, looking at how investors can align their portfolios to the goals of the Paris Agreement and use the weight of their capital to drive significant and measurable progress in reducing carbon emissions. Partners Capital is contributing to and engaging with the Investor Practices sub-group of this body to help our asset managers better integrate climate risks and opportunities into their investment process. To that end, we are constantly engaging with our managers, measuring their progress and reporting back to our clients.

We target the same areas of concern as the Oxford Martin principles and continue to work with managers who are increasingly focussed on them. The Oxford Martin Principles involve: 1.) a commitment to net-zero emissions, 2.) company executives developing profitable net-zero business models, and 3.) the publication of quantitative net-zero business models. As such, our 2021 ESG survey has an explicit climate change section and we ask managers 1.) how they are reducing the environmental impact of their businesses, 2.) how they are considering climate change risk, 3.) whether prospective investments have plans for net-zero, and 4.) whether they have commercial relationships with commercial banks financing fossil fuel. Managers’ responses are then evaluated versus our framework and this feeds into their overall classification – where companies are laggards compared to their peers we engage with them to assist them to improve their considerations of climate change risk.

Climate Change Survey Questions:

  • Have you implemented any initiatives to reduce the environmental impact of your business (including but not limited to: energy efficiency improvements, waste reduction programme, water efficiency enhancements etc.). If so, please provide details and an overview of any reductions made to your environmental impact to date.
  • Do you assess the strategy’s exposure to climate risk, and measure and monitor the carbon footprint of the investment portfolio?
  • Do you check whether prospective investments have net zero carbon business plans in place? Has your organisation made a commitment to net zero and if so, by what date?
  • Do you have relationships (commercial banking and/or other services such as research, prime brokerage, advisory services, etc.) with any of the below organisations, which have been identified by Rainforest Action Network as the top 10 lenders to companies in the fossil fuel value chain between 2016 and 2020?

An extract from the College’s investment policy can be found here.

Banking relationships

The College takes sustainability considerations into account in terms of its banking relationships.

The College banks with Barclays but also holds deposits with Santander and RBS. Links to the latest announcements and sustainability polices of the College’s banks are below.

Barclays

For an update on Barclays’ ambition to be a net zero bank by 2050 click here.

To read a letter from the Chairman of Barclays click here.

Statement from Santander

Santander are carbon neutral in their own operations, and have been for around 18 months now.  Specific to power generation from coal, Santander Group has committed that, from 2030, it will stop investing in, and/or providing financial services to clients for whom coal fired generation represents more than 10% of revenues on a consolidated basis.

Further information can be found on the Santander website here.

Statement from RBS

In February [2020], [RBS] put tackling climate change at the heart of its purposeful strategy, announcing a number of specific targets.  These include:

  • Making its own operations net carbon zero by the end of 2020 and climate positive by 2025, by driving material reductions in the climate impact of its financing activity
  • At least halving the climate impact of its financing activity by 2030 and doing what is necessary to achieve alignment with the 2015 Paris Agreement
  • Stopping lending and underwriting to companies with more than 15% of activities related to coal, unless they have a credible transition plan in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement by the end of 2021. With a full phase-out from coal by 2030
  • Stopping lending and underwriting to major oil and gas producers without a credible transition plan in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement by the end of 2021

You can read a press release from the NatWest Group here.