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NEST to tender SRI mandate, confirms ethical investment option

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  • NEST to tender SRI mandate, confirms ethical investment option

UK - The National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) is tendering for a global equity socially-responsible investment (SRI) manager after confirming members will be offered an SRI fund as one of several investment options.

The fund has also opted for lifestyling rather than target date strategies, common in the US for its ethical option.

The announcement comes a few months after the new scheme unveiled five further investment mandates that will form the cornerstone of its investment strategy.

Explaining the meaning of SRI to the scheme, chief executive Mark Fawcett said: "NEST recognises that 'ethical' and 'socially responsible' can mean many different things to different people. NEST has conducted research and market analysis to try to get a better understanding of what is important to our future members."

He added that the fund's main focus would be on human rights, labour practices, positive environmental records and avoiding armaments.

NEST further clarified that the fund would be lifestyled, rather than offering target-dated SRI funds where the risk exposure would automatically shift as the member moved closer to retirement, due to what it expected would be a relatively low uptake of the option.

The announcement of an SRI fund to complement the scheme's target-dated funds comes as no surprise, as the possibility of such a vehicle was recommended in consultations, alongside high-risk, low-risk, as well as religiously compliant funds.

Last month, NEST's head of investment strategy Paul Todd revealed that the scheme would not set up its own ethical committee or exclude companies from its entire investment universe based on its SRI track record, instead choosing to actively engage with them.

However, at the time he conceded that a separate SRI fund would be treated differently, saying companies would be screened to guarantee it would be sufficiently different from the default fund option.

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