Major German pension fund signs up to UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment

Latest signatories include €2bn accountants pension fund and a church bank

WPV, a €2bn pension fund for chartered accountants across Germany, and Evangelische Kreditgenossenschaft, a bank for German churches and their employees, are among the latest asset owners from the country to sign up to the United Nations-backed Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI).

WPV’s embrace of the PRI has been expected since managing director Hans Wilhelm Korfmacher said in March that the fund was taking a close look at the principles. WPV’s move is a further sign that the PRI is gaining a foothold among so-called German Versorgungswerke, which are pension funds for free trades like accountants, doctors, architects and lawyers. The Bayerische Versorgungskammer (BVK), the largest of the Versorgungswerke with €55bn in assets, embraced the principles in early 2011.

The PRI, which this month provided additional transparency about how it is governed, now has 1,109 signatories in total. There are 38 in total in Germany, including 12 designated as asset owners.Contacted by RI, Korfmacher said that joining the PRI was the next logical step in its development. “Until now, the WPV has incorporated the principle of sustainability in single investments. For example, we have invested in renewable energies for several years, financed scholarships for students and stopped investing in foodstuffs,” he said. WPV’s renewable investments include a solar park near Leipzig that it acquired in 2008.

Beyond the WPV and Evangelische Kreditgenossenschaft, a third German signatory is AQAL Investing, a family office based in Munich.

In related news, RI has learned that a workshop sponsored by Germany’s environment ministry to promote the PRI in the institutional market is taking place today (October 29) in Berlin. Around 30 people, including some of the 12 investors that have joined the PRI and those thinking about it, have registered. As reported last month, the workshop is being run by the business consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC).