Our purpose is to achieve significant growth in our investors’ wealth by investing in global equity markets, using a multimanager approach. Our expectation of our managers is that they will consider all factors including environmental, social, and governance (‘ESG’) issues when seeking to maximise returns while taking proper account of the associated risks.
Incorporating consideration of ESG factors into the investment process assists in understanding and mitigating risks of an investment and potentially identifying future opportunities. We seek to understand our managers’ approach to ESG and its integration into their investment process through regular due diligence by Witan’s Board and the Company’s Executive team.
To support our due diligence and engagement with investment managers, we use the services of specialist consultants to monitor relevant issues relating to our portfolio holdings.
Whilst good governance and stewardship have for many years been an important consideration when making an investment, the importance of environmental and social issues has risen rapidly in recent years. As such, it forms part of our questioning and assessment of our managers, with environmental and social risks ranking alongside other risks, such as technological disruption, as key factors that we expect our managers to factor into their judgements.
In 2019, Witan became a member of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, the European membership body for investor collaboration on climate change. In February 2020, Witan Investment Trust became a signatory to the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment which entails the following commitments, developed by an international group of institutional investors.
As institutional investors, we have a duty to act in the best long-term interests of our beneficiaries. In this fiduciary role, we believe that ESG issues can affect the performance of investment portfolios (to varying degrees across companies, sectors, regions, asset classes and through time). We also recognise that applying these Principles may better align investors with broader objectives of society.
Principle 1: Incorporate ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes.
Principle 2: Be active owners and incorporate ESG issues into our ownership policies and practices.
Principle 3: Seek appropriate disclosure on ESG issues by the entities in which we invest.
Principle 4: Promote acceptance and implementation of the Principles within the investment industry.
Principle 5: Work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the Principles.
Principle 6: Report on our activities and progress towards implementing the Principles.
Witan's approach to integration of the Principles of Responsible Investing