Fund manager critic of PRI puts forward board candidate, saying “PRI has lost its way”

Sandra Carlisle pitches herself as “activist candidate” following letter from concerned fund managers.

  • Amends to note that Sandra Carlisle reports to Charles French, Head of Investments at Newton.

One of the group of fund managers that has written to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment criticizing its strategy has put forward a candidate for a position on the organisation’s board, calling it an ‘activist’ campaign and stating that the “PRI has lost its way” in the candidate statement.
RI reported exclusively on Monday that fund managers including BlackRock, the world’s largest fund manager, Axa Investment Managers, Colonial First State Global Asset Management, Newton Investment Management, Allianz Global Investors, Capital International, Standard Life Investments and T. Rowe Price, had written to PRI Chairman Martin Skancke saying they want far more involvement in its direction.
The managers presented a list of concerns they want to see addressed.
Sandra Carlisle, Head of Responsible Investment at Newton Investment Management, one of the signatories to the letter, presented her candidacy yesterday (September 8) to the PRI’s Signatory General Meeting (SGM), its annual general meeting, ahead of its flagship PRI-in-Person conference, this year in London.
Attendees at the SGM, which is only open to PRI signatories, told RI that Carlisle said she was standing as “an activist candidate”, suggesting that she will represent the fund managers’ position if elected. The PRI board contains two asset manager directors elected by non-asset owner signatories.
Carlisle is running against Masaru Arai, ex-CIO of Daiwa Asset Management in Japan, for the vacant investment spot on the board.
Carlisle was a former Director, Governance and Sustainable Investments at F&C, and prior to that a former Managing Director at Citigroup where she heldpositions including Head of Pan European equity sales and Head of Corporate Marketing. She specialised in sales for SRI and sustainability. To be elected to the PRI board, candidates have to be at CEO or CIO level of their organisation, or to report directly to these positions. In this case, Carlisle reports to Charles French, Head of Investments at Newton. Carlisle could not be reached for comment before RI went to press.
In her candidate statement, Carlisle says she applauds the PRI’s success and endorses its aims and ambitions, noting: “I believe that the PRI can continue to act as a force for great good in driving the changes necessary to forge a sustainable financial system.”
She adds: “However, I believe that the PRI has lost its way. It needs urgently to redefine its mission and purpose if it is to remain relevant to its global signatory base, who are operating in an increasingly complex financial system.”
On Monday, RI reported that Fiona Reynolds, Managing Director of the PRI, said she believed the organisation was already doing what the fund managers were calling for.
PRI signatories will also vote for two vacant asset owner spots on the PRI board. The candidates are Pierre Ducret, Special Advisor for Climate Change and COP21, Caisse de Dépôts Group in France, Angela Emslie, Independent Chair, HESTA Super fund in Australia, Marie Giguère, Executive Vice President, Legal Affairs and Secretariat, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Canada, and Xander den Uyl, Trustee, Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP in the Netherlands.
Voting ballots will be sent to signatories on September 29.
The PRI’s signatory base has grown to a mammoth $59trn in assets held by almost 1400 signatories, making it one of the world’s largest investor collaborations.