Fiona Reynolds is stepping down as CEO of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the $120tn international ESG investor network, after nine years.
Reynolds told RI that she would remain in post until January 2022 while a replacement CEO is found, before returning to her native Australia.
PRI signatories were informed this morning, in a letter in which Reynolds said Covid-19 had been deeply challenging personally, particularly with the ongoing closure of country borders, and that this had hastened her decision.
“The trade offs of not being able to spend time with my family, or even being able to reach them if I needed, have simply become too high for me. Of course, if it was viable to maintain my role as CEO from Australia I would, but this is not practical or indeed possible.”
Reynolds said she would not immediately be taking up another role but would announce her plans at a future date after taking a break.
During her tenure, the PRI has grown from 1,100 to around 4,000 signatories with staff rising from 35 to just under 200 personnel worldwide, with most based out of its London headquarters.
The PRI has convened a search committee of board members to find a replacement for Reynolds.
The committee, overseen by PRI Chair Martin Skancke, includes Eva Halvarsson, CEO of Swedish pension fund AP2; Angela Emslie, a member of the Impact Committee and a former Trustee Director and Chair of Australian superannuation fund HESTA; Michael Jantzi, CEO of Sustainalytics; and Eric Usher, Head of the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative. It will shortly hire a search firm to lead the recruitment process.
PRI governance principles mean the association has to recruit externally for the post, but Reynolds said potential internal successors were also being encouraged to apply, with the aim of filling the position by the year end to enable a smooth transition.
In a note to signatories, Skancke said: “In Fiona’s tenure as CEO of the PRI, she has led the growth in scope and reach of the organisation to investors, policymakers and other stakeholders around the world. In turn, with tremendous commitment, energy and experience, Fiona has also contributed personally to the growth of responsible investing more broadly. We are very sorry to see Fiona step down as CEO, but fully understand her personal wish to be home in Australia with family.”
Reynolds joined the PRI in November 2012 as Managing Director, arriving from the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees where she had been Chief Executive for six years.
In terms of her future plans, Reynolds said she felt there was an important job to be done in carrying on the promotion of ESG and sustainable finance in Australia, but did not give further information.
On leaving the organisation, she said: “I’ve loved every minute of working at the PRI with a brilliant set of people who I know will carry on doing great work.”
She said felt the PRI had played a major role in enabling asset owners to build up their ESG expectations and expertise with their asset managers as part of a huge shift in ESG take-up. “We’re no longer just dealing with the marketing department of fund managers; it’s across the organisation now. It’s also been incredible to see the mainstreaming of ESG across investors, companies and now governments: who would have thought 10 years ago we’d be seeing governmental groups like the G7 this week talking about mandatory TCFD reporting and the implementation of tax fairness rules – issues the PRI has been talking about for years.”