Five representatives of UK local authority pension funds and asset pools have backed a new initiative aimed at promoting impact investment among schemes.
Pensions for Purpose was launched yesterday at a small workshop about impact investments for local government pension scheme (LGPS) funds.
The public sector funds present shared their experience of introducing impact investment into their portfolios, each showcasing a specific fund or strategy. There was a case study from Australia’s Christian Super and presentations from the UK LGPS, including the Environment Agency and Merseyside pension funds.
Karen Shackleton, head of Pensions for Purpose, told IPE that five LGPS fund and pool representatives signed up to the initiative yesterday. They included three London boroughs and one scheme based in the north of England.
There was genuine interest in accessing the information available on the site in future, she added.
Pensions for Purpose describes itself as “a collaborative initiative of impact managers, pensions investors, social enterprises and others involved in impact investment”.
It aims to raise awareness about impact investment for pension funds by sharing news articles, blogs, case studies, academic research and thought leadership papers.
It is being run by Shackleton and Stephanie Windsor.
Shackleton is senior advisor at Allenbridge and an independent investment adviser to several UK LGPS funds including those for the London boroughs of Islington, Camden and Hounslow. She is also deputy chair of the Strategic Investment Board for the UK’s Ministry of Justice and a non-executive director of Resonance, a social impact investment company.
Windsor was previously a founder member and business manager at SVG Investment Managers, and an executive assistant and team leader at UBS Global Asset Management.
In a statement, Shackleton said that one of the main challenges facing trustees when they consider an allocation to impact investment was a lack of accessible information on the topic.
“By encouraging our influencers [asset manager members] to share thought leadership, blogs and case studies via one central platform, we hope to make it much easier, going forward, for pension fund investors to access that material so that trustees can have a more informed debate,” she said.
“Pensions for Purpose should bring about a greater level of clarity and understanding of impact investments, more information on their risk/return characteristics, and an awareness of how to measure impact.”
Asset owners can join Pensions for Purpose as affiliates, as can government bodies, independent advisers and journalists. “Influencer” membership is for investment managers involved in impact investment, trade bodies, consultants and others involved in impact investment who want to post content on the initiative’s website.
Founding “influencer” members include AXA Investment Managers, Baillie Gifford, Big Society Capital, Bridges Fund Management, Brightlight, Resonance and Sustineri.
Matt Christensen, head of responsible investment at AXA Investment Managers, said: “Impact is an investment approach rather than a specific asset class. We see it as a wave which started with alternatives, but will grow to touch all asset classes.
“In time, we believe that the culture of impact measurement will become embedded across the financial industry.”