Investments

Our investment strategy is one of the key ways Friends Provident Foundation effects positive change.

Our approach to ethical investment

We view our endowment as a tool for advancing our mission. Our goal is to ensure that every investment not only generates financial returns but also contributes to positive social and environmental outcomes. Our investment decisions, stewardship responsibilities, and engagement with the financial system are all geared towards fostering international, national, and local resilience, and cultivating a fair, equitable, and environmentally sustainable economy.

Market Rate Portfolio

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In addition to playing a pivotal role in advancing our mission, our Market Rate Portfolio generates the majority of the income for our grant-making operations and governance.

 

The investment managers for our market rate portfolio are Columbia Threadneedle Investments and Cazenove.

 

Our approach to generating social and environmental returns in our market-rate portfolio is outlined in our Investment principles and policy, encompassing:

 

  • The areas that take precedence when we make decisions about investments.
  • Areas in which we will never invest, as we deem them to be fundamentally inconsistent with our mission.
  • How we use our influence as shareholders, both independently and in collaboration with other investors, to encourage practices that align with our mission.

Social Investment Portfolio

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We were an early adopter of social or mission investment principles in the UK, making our first investment in 2010.

 

Trustees have decided that up to 10% of the value of our endowment might be used to make direct impact-first investments in social enterprises and impact funds.

 

Trustees are willing to take on a higher level of risk where the investment is close to our programme objectives and priorities. An overview of our current investments is in the Social Investment portfolio.

Working in Partnership

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We also work with other charities, foundations, and like-minded investors to progress our investment objectives, including as members of the Charities Responsible Investment Network, Church Investors Group, Social Impact Investors Group, and the Institutional Investor Group on Climate Change.

Key investment documents

Investment principles and policy

Investment statement on climate change

Investment engagement

To support our objectives, we use our influence as a shareholder to engage investee companies and influence as an asset owner to engage fund managers.

Case study: Cazenove

Cazenove were the winners of our 2020 ‘ESG olympics‘. Since then, they have launched the ‘sustainable growth fund’.

Cazenove Investor Forum

In June 2021, Cazenove held its first Investor Forum for clients in the new Sustainable Growth Fund.

Social investment

Trustees have decided that an increasing portion of the charity’s investible funds should be invested into instruments to which the Foundation’s general charitable objectives and specific programme aims could be applied.

The primary aim of social investments is to pursue the Foundation’s broad charitable and focused programmatic objectives using financial instruments other than grants. The secondary aim of social investments is to produce a financial return.

Our social investment portfolio

Snowball Impact Management

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Snowball Impact Management – a ground-breaking new 100% impact investment fund. In 2020, they restructured to create Snowball Impact Management and Fund (GP/LP structure) to allow new investors. Snowball applies a social and environmental impact lens to all its investment analysis, reporting and decision-making. In 2021, Snowball was recognised as a ‘Best for the World’ BCorp.

Riding Sunbeams Apollo Ltd

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Riding Sunbeams Apollo Ltd – a joint venture between Community Energy South, Possible, Thrive Renewables and the Foundation. It seeks to decarbonise the transport system by developing community-owned renewable energy assets and using the electricity generated to power trains and other forms of transport. The company is the first to embed facilitating a just transition into its legal purpose. The Foundation invested £199,960 in 2020 for equity.

Egni Solar Co-op

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Egni Solar Co-op – which is in the process of installing up to 5MW of rooftop solar on over 200 sites across Wales. Smaller sites such as primary schools and community centres will receive the energy for free as part of the co-op’s community benefit. It is the largest ever roll-out of solar PV in Wales. The Foundation invested £100,000 in a community share offer.

Awel Wind Co-op

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Awel Wind Co-op – a 4.7MW two wind turbine project that is wholly owned, controlled by and benefits the local community. The community, 20 miles north of Swansea, is an area of high social deprivation. Over the project’s lifetime, it is expected that £3 million will be given to Awl Aman Tawe Charity to alleviate local fuel poverty. The Foundation invested £95,000 in a community share offer.

Energy Garden Ltd

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Energy Garden Ltd – a community benefit society hoping to raise funds to develop and acquire solar PV arrays. The income generated will be used to transform 50 London Overground platforms and stations into community gardens and food growing plots and to support volunteers and youth training. Its intention is to support resilient communities, improve air quality and wellbeing and raise awareness of community energy. The Foundation has invested £50,000 in a future community share offer expected in 2021/22.

Ethex

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Ethex – a non-profit ethical investment club, which has both ethical investors and ethical businesses as members. Through collaboration and the pooling of resources, it aims to promote and encourage businesses that have both social and commercial goals. It wants to make financial services more affordable and more available to ethical businesses and to ethical investors. The Foundation invested £50,000 in 2013, structured as a loan. We agreed an interest payment holiday this year to ease cash flow to facilitate operational expansion.

Our past investments

Stichting Equileap Foundation

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Stichting Equileap Foundation  aims to accelerate progress towards gender equality in the workplace as a powerful lever in tackling inequality and poverty. To do this they use knowledge through providing detailed data on companies’ gender equality performance to inform gender-lens investment decisions. Net profits from this work go towards the creation of a sustainable fund to tackle the root causes of gendered economic inequality. The Foundation invested £100,000 in 2018, as a ten-year loan; Equileap restructured this year and repaid the loan in November 2021.

Our investment team

Danielle Walker Palmour

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Director

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Stephanie Maier

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Trustee - Investment Committee Chair

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Abraham Baldry

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Trustee - Investment Committee Member

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Charlie Crossley

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Investment Engagement Manager

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Paul Blyth

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Trustee - Investment Committee Member

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