Rathbone Greenbank Review Investor Day 2018

The theme of this year’s Investor Day event — ‘good work’ — has long been an area of focus for members of the Rathbone Greenbank team, which produced a report on the state of family-friendly working practices in the UK as long ago as 1998. This surveyed over half of the companies in the FTSE 100 at the time to gauge their position on a variety of issues, including women in management, flexible working, maternity schemes and childcare provision, and work-related stress.

These and other related workplace indicators are key factors that feed into our analysis of the companies in which we invest — and they also help measure how we are performing as an employer ourself. So do we have our own house in order? I’m pleased to say that the wider Rathbones group has been an accredited living wage employer since 2012 and has recently become a signatory to the Women in Finance Charter, an HM Treasury initiative aiming to increase gender diversity in the financial services sector. More recently, Rathbones has become a corporate member of an LGBT recruitment and networking hub in order to help the group become a more diverse and inclusive employer.

But, like many financial services companies, there is room for improvement. The publication of Rathbones’ first gender pay gap report in March this year highlighted that the senior roles within the group are held predominantly by men, for example. Steps are being taken to address this, including the introduction of programmes to increase female representation across the business, unconscious bias training and changes to our maternity and paternity policies. Within the wider Group, Rathbone Greenbank is proud to have long been at the vanguard of the drive for greater female representation in investment management with five women investment directors out of eight in total.

But good work is a broader topic with phrases such as ‘gig economy’, ‘zero-hours contract’, ‘in-work poverty’ and ‘living wage’ becoming more and more common in the media. The speakers at this year’s event explored how changes in the nature of work are bringing about both positive and negative developments for workers, companies and the economy — and consequently, for investors. They also examined how different organisations and initiatives are encouraging positive change for the working environment.

Our annual Investor Days reflect the fact that we at Rathbone Greenbank are not passive investors: we are active in our analysis, our choice of investments and in our engagement with companies, policymakers and the wider investment community. Through this work we believe that we can play an important part in directing capital in a more responsible way. As specialist ethical and sustainable investment managers, we believe that our investment analysis can help protect clients from the financial risks of poor corporate performance on environmental, social or governance (ESG) matters. We also believe that investing in companies that address the evolving needs of a growing global population in a truly sustainable way makes good financial sense. Importantly, we also believe that it is the responsible thing to do.  

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