NETHERLANDS - Prins Bernhand Cultuurfonds, the €120m Dutch charitable foundation, has appointed SEI as a fiduciary manager for 90% of its assets.

The agreement is believed to mark the first time a European charitable organisation has adopted a fiduciary management approach. SEI will be responsible for advising on the portfolio and asset allocation of the organisation's assets, with the aim of reaching a specific target return based on Cultuurfonds' charitable expenditure.

Cultuurfonds is one of the largest private cultural funds in the Netherlands supporting culture, heritage and nature conservation, has a €120m fund of which SEI will be responsible for managing 90%.

SEI will also oversee and coordinate the remaining assets that are being left with the legacy asset managers for "historical reasons".

Adriana Esmeijer from Cultuurfonds said the organisation had decided to appoint a fiduciary manager because of the increased complexity of financial markets and the need to "further professionalise our asset management process".

Under the agreement, SEI will provide risk management and will select, monitor and replace investment managers using a manager-of-managers process. The foundation will invest in a combination of SEI funds - including bonds, equities, property, and hedge funds - although SEI said Cultuurfonds' desire to invest responsibly would be met through the engagement and voting overlay process available across its equity funds.

Esmeijer admitted a conservative investment approach had meant the organisation had limited the negative investment return to 3.2% in 2008. But she added: "The last two years have clearly demonstrated the need to closely monitor risk and we felt that delegating the oversight and management of the fund to one expert provider would improve our governance and allow decisions to be made more quickly to the benefit of the fund."

She also suggested the decision to have "one expert provider" to oversee and manage the fund would allow Cultuurfonds to focus on the key objectives of the charity in supporting more than 3,500 projects and individuals.

Peter in de Rijp, managing director of sales for SEI Netherlands, said Cultuurfonds' decision to be the first charitable organisation to select a fiduciary manager, "marks a significant step in the growth of fiduciary management in Europe".

"Cultuurfonds will be able to focus on the core strategic issues for the foundation whilst knowing that the fund is being closely monitored and managed to ensure the best likelihood of achieving goals".

While this foundation is the first to apply fiduciary management to its charity assets, Mn Services recently won a contract to manage the £20m (€22m) pension fund for UK charity the Macmillan Cancer Trust.

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