Statement on Responsible Investment
The College has a medium-sized endowment whose returns are essential for its viable operation as an educational charity. The College Council requires its investments to be managed responsibly and its funds invested to meet demanding ESG benchmarks.
The College’s investment portfolio is managed by an outsourced advisor, Partners Capital, which operates according to parameters determined by an Investments Committee. We do not invest directly in individual companies or stocks but rather in funds managed by a large number of portfolio managers across a diverse range of assets. Some funds are actively managed; some are passive, or “tracker” funds which replicate benchmarks, typically major indices. Portfolio managers are selected using a number of criteria including the degree to which they maintain an active level of corporate engagement in respect of the environment, sustainability, governance and other ethical standards. Their actions in this regard are carefully reviewed both by the specialist in-house team assembled by our investment advisors and by the College Council.
To that end, the College Council receives quarterly reports from the Investments Committee in the form of a Responsible Investment Dashboard. A key metric in this regard is the endowment’s exposure to fossil fuels, tobacco, armaments, gambling and alcohol. Steps are actively taken to minimise Girton’s exposure to all these sectors, and we have, as a result, materially reduced our exposure to fossil fuels over the last five years. The most recent dashboard shows the College’s exposure to fossil fuel industries to be 1.8% of its allocation to global and hedged equities, compared to 4.2% in the Committee’s benchmark (the MSCI AC World Allocation index).
The Investments Committee also reviews quarterly a list of stocks or sectors held within the various portfolios which individually comprise more than 1% of the overall value, and considers whether the values of the underlying businesses are in any way incompatible with those of the College. If they are, then action is taken to reduce exposure. Our investment strategy is under constant review, reflecting both our role as custodians of charitable funds, and our responsibilities as stewards of the environment. This includes the extent to which we maintain exposure to fossil fuel-related industries.