Methodist finance board’s Seddon steps down after 30 years as chief executive

Leading faith investor succeeded by private client executive

Bill Seddon, one of the leading faith investment figures in the UK, is stepping down from the Central Finance Board (CFB) of the Methodist Church – the fund managers of the Methodist Church in Great Britain – after 30 years as chief executive.

David Palmer, currently Head of Private Client Investment Management at £9bn (€10.5bn) private client firm Towry, will join the £1.3bn CFB in September and become CEO in January in what he called his “dream job”.

Chief Investment Officer Stephen Beer, in an enhanced role, will take sole responsibility for devising and executing investment strategy. Marina Philips remains CFB Secretary and Chief Financial Officer.

It’s hoped Palmer’s record of growing asset management businesses will enable the CFB to develop its wholly owned ethical fund management arm Epworth Investment Management. Epworth was founded in 1996 and offers the Affirmative range of funds; in 2014 it had a turnover of £530,715 and made an operating profit of just over £32,000.Palmer said: “Having built my career on core values based on my Christian faith, this is my dream job.” He said that integrating Christian ethics into the investment process can be the “springboard for a growing and sustainable fund management business”.

The CFB and Epworth actively integrate engagement with companies on financial, ethical, social, environmental and governance performance as part of their investment decision making process.

Seddon, who is also Chair of the $15bn Church Investors Group and sits on the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG), serves on the General Synod as a lay member and documents his reflections of its meetings on his blog.

He was among the signatories – alongside the likes of Sacha Sadan of Legal & General Investment Management, Helena Morrissey of Newton Investment Management and Chris Hitchen at Railpen Investments – to a letter to the Financial Times earlier this month setting out expectations about women on corporate boards under the Investor Group of the 30% Club group.