Investment group Aviva has closed its SRI section in favour of a new Global Responsible Investment team. Alex Blackburne looks into the decision.
Aviva has announced it is to scrap its sustainable and responsible investment (SRI) team, under a number of structural changes happening at the investment group.
The news mirrors that of Henderson Global Investors’, which last year similarly closed its SRI team in favour of mainstream managers, to significant industry opposition.
In a letter to the chairman of UK Sustainable Investment and Finance (UKSIF), Aviva CEO Paul Abberley wrote how it will be looking “for a new institutional home for the [SRI] funds, the clients and the majority of the team”, reducing “the stand alone resource allocated to corporate governance engagement”, and establishing “a new Global Responsible Investment team that will cover Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues across the mainstream business”.
Penny Shepherd, chief executive of UKSIF, said Aviva’s decision shouldn’t affect the rest of the SRI industry.
“Sustainable and responsible investment generally is thriving,” she told Environmental Finance.
“What we’re seeing is a major re-focusing and a significant review within the parent … and SRI funds are getting caught up in that”.
Lee Smythe, managing director of Smythe & Walter Chartered Financial Planners, said the announcement might not be all doom and gloom, though.
“I would think that Aviva’s decision to move away from this area would be largely due to their not seeing it as a profitable long term segment if their business”, he said.
“Hopefully the funds will move to a manager who has long term commitment to ensuring clients wishing to focus in this area will have a stable platform from which to do so.
“However, Aviva’s stated intention to include a more Globally Responsible overview to all of their investments should be commended”.
The Global Responsible Investment team that has been proposed by Aviva will be responsible for developing our strategy and policy across all assets under management.
Despite this, the news is another blow to a thriving industry that really doesn’t need such obstacles.
But it shouldn’t put you off from making a responsible, sustainable choice when it comes to your finances.
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