The College is aware that a number of our stakeholders have expressed an interest in our investment policy. The College holds no direct investments in fossil fuels and has no intention of so holding in the future.
Robinson College is committed to ensuring that it makes investment decisions responsibly and with integrity, always mindful of the following principle set out by the Charity Commission:
“ the College’s power of investment has to be used to further the purposes of the College and that those purposes will normally be best served by seeking the maximum return consistent with commercial prudence” (Charity Commission Legal Underpinning note to CC14: Charities and Investment Matters (2011) para 4.5, note f).
The College approaches the management of its endowment as an economic resource. It is managed strictly in accordance with Charity Law in order to fulfil its charitable objectives and secure the public benefits that the College is able to provide for both current and future generations. Accordingly, the College’s endowment is not a means to advance particular political viewpoints or to exert economic pressure for particular social purposes.
The College therefore follows an investment policy which is designed to maximise the College’s overall return from its investments consistent with its educational objectives, capital growth and income requirements, ethical principles, a continuing appeal to a wide range of donors and potential future donors, relevant legal and regulatory requirements and the degree of risk which it is appropriate for the College to take with its comparatively modest endowment.
The College recognises that investments are exposed to many forms of risk and that risks will continue to evolve, including changes in public policy and regulation, changes in the geopolitical landscape, and changes in financial and technological innovation. In particular, the College believes that in making and managing the College’s investments a focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in areas such as energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, resource scarcity, biodiversity, usage of land and water, health and safety, equality, diversity and inclusion, human rights and effective governance is not only in line with its fiduciary duty as a long term investor, but can also make a contribution to society at large. Furthermore, ESG factors may help identify potential opportunities and risks which conventional tools have missed.
These issues will therefore inform investment decisions where practicable, bearing in mind the relatively small size of the College’s endowment and the fact that, perforce as a matter of prudence, most investments are held in funds and other pooled vehicles, where the College cannot directly engage with individual companies on ESG related issues, either directly or via shareholder resolutions. Instead, the College will engage the external investment managers through which it invests, recognising the small level of fund ownership and limited influence it has on fund investment policy, and will not invest in “black box” investment vehicles where it is not possible to identify the nature of the underlying assets,
The College will include a review of ESG policies within its due diligence before investing in new funds and will apply the same principles and approach for any direct investments it chooses to make.
Overall the College takes the view that legal and regulatory requirements are there to police corporate behaviour and it does not associate itself with any campaign groups. This policy is kept under regular review by the Investment Committee.
Keywords: fossil fuels, divest, divestment