Aviva Investors cuts London SRI equity desk amid wider job cull

Formation of new Global Responsible Investment Team

Aviva Investors is closing its London-based sustainable responsible investments (SRI) equity desk as part of a wider reorganisation that will result in around 160 job cuts.
The firm said today it would set up a new Global Responsible Investment Team to “refocus” its environmental, social and governance (ESG) activities.
The firm, which has £269bn (€321.7bn) in assets under management, said it was reducing its active equity management capability, meaning a corresponding reduction in the “stand alone resources” allocated to corporate governance.
Also to be cut alongside the equity SRI team will be European, Emerging Markets and global equities desks. The job cuts, the majority in London, will account for around 12% of its total global workforce.
Clients and staff were being informed about the changes today.
Aviva will instead focus on indexing and quantitative management and on having “one active portfolio management capability in each of the main markets”.

The manager said its new responsible investment team will keep up Aviva’s work on issues such as business ethics, the UN Global Compact and Sustainable Stock Exchanges. Further details were not immediately available.

“Aviva Investors will continue to deliver its commitments to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment and the UK Stewardship Code, and will continue to ensure the integration of material ESG issues into its mainstream assets under management,” the firm said.
The proposed changes follow a review led by Aviva Investors’ Chief Executive Alain Dromer, who recently stepped down himself as chairman of the influential Association of British Insurers’ investment committee.Aviva Investors is one of the leading responsible investors in the UK market. Earlier this month, it was among a group of leading investors and campaign groups that wrote to the Bank of England urging it to consider the UK’s exposure to high carbon investments as a “systemic risk”. It was recently part of a working party of institutional investors formed to improve the quality of engagement between investors and companies. Paul Abberley, its London-based CEO, sits on the UNPRI Advisory Council.
Before the announcement, Aviva’s Sustainable and Responsible Investments (SRI) team comprised 16 employees, although the fund manager’s website is not up-to-date with team changes.
On the site, its research team under Steve Waygood, Head of Sustainable Research and Engagement, includes five analysts, Claire Harrold, Harriet Parker, Neil Brown, Kirill Pyshkin and Brigitte Pearson, and one product specialist, Christy McKie.
Its portfolio management team under Peter Michaelis, Head of SRI, was made up of four other portfolio managers: Mike Appleby, global equity, Derek Lygo, pan European long/short, Simon Clements, global equity, and Julie Quinn, European equity.
The corporate governance team had dropped to four under Anita Skipper, Corporate Governance Director, following the recent departures of Iain Richards, joint Head of Corporate Governance, to Threadneedle Investments as Head of Governance and Responsible Investment, and November 2011’s departure of Georgina Marshall, Aviva’s former Regional Head of Corporate Governance to proxy voting advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) as its Head of European research.
The remaining team comprised Nathan Leclerq, Head of Corporate Governance Operations, Doris Ko, Corporate Governance Executive, and Katheryn Lynch, Corporate Governance and Information Executive.