Barclays Global Investors, one of the world’s largest investment managers, is considering introducing an SRI component into its management approach.
Matthew Annable, CIO for active equity strategies in Europe, says the group is investigating whether there is a link between socially responsible companies and outperformance. As such it is in discussions with consultants specialising in SRI research on companies.
BGI is approaching the project with what Annable calls an agnostic attitude. He says there has been very little robust research into whether there is a genuine connection between the two and that the assumption they are automatically linked is at times naïve.
If BGI is convinced one leads to the other, Annable says it will introduce an SRI element into its investment process. A decision is expected some time later this year.
The move is in part due to BGI’s desire to expand its policy of engagement to Europe. Annable says they have been engaging companies in the UK for a while but to a lesser extent in Europe. It also reflects an increased demand from pension funds that their money be invested in a more socially responsible manner.
BGI’s move comes on the heels of an announcement by rivals State Street Global Advisors that it is teaming up with renowned SRI manager Friends, Ivory & Sime to provide index-tracking funds with an SRI overlay.
BGI may eventually launch an SRI fund but first needs convincing of a link between socially responsible conduct and outperformance.