Two major UK church investment organisations have welcomed a new code designed to encourage responsible investment.
The Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church (CFB) and its sister organisation, Epworth Investment Management, have endorsed the Financial Reporting Council’s Stewardship Code and signalled their intention to become Code signatories.
Chief Executive Bill Seddon said: “Engagement and informed dialogue with companies lies at the heart of our investment approach. A Christian approach to investment focuses on our role as stewards. The Stewardship Code provides a valuable context for enhancing the responsibilities of ownership”.
However, some companies have encouraged Methodist, Anglican and other church bodies to be more bold and justice-oriented in their investment and divestment policies, citing oil companies as among those who should be put under more financial pressure.
The CFB and Epworth say they both seek to invest in "well managed companies that deliver sustainable growth to shareholders and which operate to the highest standards of corporate governance and ethical behaviour."
The CFB and Epworth also state that they wish to integrate engagement with companies on financial, ethical, social, environmental and governance performance as part of their investment decision making.
Both institutions already comply with the Code. They are currently reviewing the seven principles contained within the Stewardship Code and will make a more informed statement of compliance in the near future.
Britain's major churches control investments worth in the region of £12 billion. This is a significant stake in the wider economy. A sizeable proportion of these funds is tied up in pensions, buildings and salaries.