Finnish church names managers for initial overseas SRI commitment

Morley and Sarasin win out for European equities as fund pledges more SRI research for 2008.

Morley, the UK fund manager, and Bank Sarasin, its Swiss peer, have won out from a list of 24 managers to run European SRI equities mandates for the €750m ($1.1bn) Lutheran Church of Finland pension fund. Sarasin will run approximately €35m, while Morley will manage €25m of an initial sustainable investment allocation by the fund. Tomi Viia, investment manager at the Lutheran Church, said the fund will
start a further research project concentrating on SRI investments at the start of 2008. The fund already uses a number of SRI investment overlay strategies for its Finnish domestic equities exposure and is advised by Ethix, the Stockholm-based SRI research house.
Viia said Morley and Sarasin had been successful in their mandate pitches due to a mixture of thorough SRI integration into their investment as well as good performance and fee levels.
The London office of investment consultant, Bfinance, was responsible for the tender process and analysis of managers.
Viia said: “This is the first step in our selection of SRI mandates. We are living in exciting moments for responsible investment.”The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland represents more than 400 parishes around the country and has total assets worth around €2.7bn in a mixture of buildings, forests, plots for development, shares and securities.
Faith-based investors are becoming increasingly active in their investments. In a recent interview with Responsible Investor, Michiel Hardon, a member of the executive board of 3iG, the global interfaith group as representative of the Geneva-based World Council of Churches, said that 3iG’s constituent institutional holdings plus the additional private assets of believers, could be valued at trillions of dollars: “The reason for moving away from negative screening was that we felt it did not represent what we are as faith groups. It was also too costly. Faith groups have a vision of how the world should be and have a stewardship role to play. We believe this is more suited to positive engagement with companies. We want to do more than just say we don’t invest in gambling.”
To read the 3iG interview click here