Whitley Asset Management’s focus is on providing an excellent standard of service to our clients and we go to great lengths to understand them thoroughly, managing their assets according to their and their families’ individual needs and values. From this open dialogue we recognise that following a high standard of environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) criteria is integral to meeting the expectations of our clients, employees, community, and wider society and to delivering sustainable financial returns. Responsible investing is a key part of the fiduciary duty we have to our clients, and our Responsible Investment Policy sets out how we aim to achieve this.
WAM has long sought to protect our clients’ capital from risks associated with irresponsible investment, and these concerns are built into the fabric of the firm. Edward Whitley, our founder and chair of the Investment Committee, founded the Whitley Fund for Nature in 1993 to offer funding and support to the most effective grassroots conservationists around the world. To date the charity has given over £18m to more than 200 conservationists in 80 countries across the Global South.
WAM strives to reduce the environmental impact of our investments, ensure that companies we invest in are run for the benefit of all stakeholders and implement governance policies and practices that ensure the long-term sustainability of businesses. Fundamentally, we believe that ESG risks are financial risks. Investing responsibly is the best way to deliver long term returns and mitigate these risks.
The ESG committee focuses on developing our ESG analysis processes, and regularly meets with fellow investors and data providers. This work is shared throughout the team, and all members of the investment committee are fully involved with ESG research on our companies and funds. ESG analysis is embedded within our investment process for both third party funds and direct equity investments, with research covering areas from emissions reporting and reduction to executive compensation.
The UK Stewardship Code defines stewardship as the responsible allocation, management and oversight of capital to create long-term value for clients and beneficiaries leading to sustainable benefits for the economy, the environment and society. WAM views stewardship as a key tool to deepen our knowledge of our investments, to monitor and assess whether they are being run for the long-term benefit of clients and wider society, and to engage with them to advance changes or improvements which we believe will add value. WAM carries out investment stewardship through an ESG & Stewardship Questionnaire which is sent to all funds and through Proxy Voting and co-signing letters to companies through our investor group partnerships.