Fund Awards 2022 10 Wealth & Finance International - 2022 Fund Awards Best Charity Investment Fund Management Firm – UK Rich history, innovative ideas With roots embedded in the Methodist Church dating back to 1960, Epworth is an investment manager dedicated to serving the needs of Churches and Charities. Epworth sees themselves not just as managers, but stewards of wealth; carefully selecting investments that meet the firm’s strict ethical goals. Like some other investment managers, Epworth largely avoids investment in companies that are contradictory to a just, sustainable society. Many of its charity clients, though, came to Epworth not simply to do no harm, but to have a positive impact on the world. Epworth listened carefully to its clients and responded with an innovative ethical investment strategy that is simple, yet affective. This approach to ethical investment is unique in the marketplace insofar that it believes in simple solutions to complex issues. Using a theological approach, the firm has developed a set of moral pillars, a robust framework that seeks to identify the underlying principles critical to every ethical decision and situation. They then link their principles to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The SDGs translates their deeply held convictions into coherent, widely shared goals allowing Epworth to engage with investee companies, accrediting bodies, and regulators alike. Epworth takes an active approach to investment management, believing this is the best way to add value for their investors. The pillars provide a moral driver for Epworth’s dynamic investment team. Alongside economic factors, the team consider the firm’s principles and the ambitions of the SDGs in all investment decisions. For clients, their investments with Epworth not only aim to provide superior returns, but also a positive impact on people and planet. Building trust by listening Recent reports have shown many investors are sceptical of positive investment strategies, some Epworth Investment Management builds on its rich history in ethical thinking and investment strategy to offer clients sound investment options that won’t cost the earth. At the forefront of its operation, Epworth maintains a strict level of integrity and transparency whilst continually listening to the dynamic needs of clients. Ultimately, Epworth is a firm that genuinely cares about its clients and the impact investments have on people and planet. Aug22517 even mistrusting their asset manager’s approach to ESG. Epworth recognises the value in listening to clients, particularly their ethical priorities, to build trust in the firm’s investment approach. As such, Epworth conducts an annual survey that seeks to gather all clients’ ethical priorities, preferences, and appetite. The results of the survey help Epworth form a priority matrix that guides the firms approach to positive investing, and importantly its approach to investee company engagement. This claim isn’t just lip service or a slick marketing strategy. After listening to its clients’ concern around the slow response of the oil and gas majors’ approach to the climate emergency, Epworth conducted a major, multi-year assessment into the sector. The results of the assessment showed the oil and gas sector was not only failing to play a substantial enough role in addressing the climate emergency, but that there was little appetite from the companies to improve. Ultimately, after hearing the concerns of clients and assessing the sector, in April 2021 Epworth took the decision to disinvest from its remaining oil and gas holdings. Engaging for change Epworth believes engagement should be the primary tool for improving the practices of investee companies. Taking its lead from the firm’s priority matrix, Epworth’s investment team identifies issues it feels are both a client priority and one where the firm has the greatest impact potential. A particular area of concern for Epworth is the mining sector. Epworth recognises the sector’s central importance for a transition to a more sustainable planet as the world consumes more minerals and metals in the pursuit of cleaner energy. They also recognise the unique challenges mining companies present to the environment, local communities, and its workforce. Importantly, Epworth’s clients agree, and have encouraged the firm to engage with its investee mining companies. After a strong period of engagement with the mining company, Anglo American, Epworth was delighted that the most recent climate report from the company outlined a scope 3 emissions ambition to reduce its scope 3 emissions by 50% by 2040. Notably, this was the first major mining company to set this type of target. Epworth also knows how to utilize the power of the press and public sentiment to help drive positive outcomes. In a recent article, Epworth featured as one of the only investors willing to make serious comment after an investee mining company published a report detailing systemic workplace toxicity including incidents of alleged criminal harassment, rape, and racism within their company. As investors, Epworth saw their job as standing in solidarity with the victims and using its voice to encourage change. As a result of the article, Epworth entered a constructive dialogue with the company and continues to monitor their progress. Integrity through transparency Epworth is a small firm whose reputation is built on trust, integrity, and transparency. Epworth prides itself in keeping the clients involved in their investments, as evidenced by the priority matrix, and informed of the impact their investments are helping make. As such, Epworth is a signatory of the UK Stewardship Code which details the ethical investment goals of the firm and the tangible outcomes it has or seeks to make. Most notably, Epworth remains the only UK investment manager to be accredited by the Fair Tax Mark. This means Epworth’s charity clients can be assured that the firm pays what it owes, where it owes it, and on time. Innovation at the heart Epworth haven’t just stopped being the stewards for churches and charities. They have been busy behind the scenes building the third leg to their investment stool. The feedback from its clients was that they should create a retail offering that would appeal to members of the public and they are launching this solution October 2022. This suite of portfolios harnesses Epworth’s unique ethical framework mentioned previously, along