As an investment trust, Witan is an integral part of the wider financial system that powers the global economy. The global economy is facing a significant challenge: ensuring that prosperity does not come at the expense of the environment and wider socio-economic development. Witan’s responsible investment strategy continues to evolve both to respond to this challenge and to capitalise on the opportunities it presents.
Witan’s role in the world is to allocate capital effectively to businesses that can generate long-term, outstanding investment returns for the benefit of our shareholders.
Far from there being a conflict between good returns and responsible investing, owning well-managed businesses with attractive and undervalued growth prospects is key to achieving returns that are sustainable. Well-run businesses incorporating resilient business practices with sustainable cash flows are likely to perform better than companies which are at risk of disruption, litigation, regulation, or loss of business because of poor ESG practices.
As an investment company, Witan aims to make well-informed investment decisions to ensure our pursuit of prosperity for our shareholders is not detrimental to people and the planet. This entails integrating these considerations into our manager selection, investment analysis and oversight of our investment portfolio. Our commitment to Net Zero Asset Managers initiative (‘NZAM’) is core to this approach.
It is the role of Witan’s appointed fund managers to identify investment opportunities that deliver superior returns for our investors. We provide oversight, holding managers to account and making changes to the manager line-up, if warranted.
The pursuit of prosperity is achieved by working in partnership with our fund managers to ensure Witan invests in sustainable businesses
Developing Our Strategy
Although Witan’s direct corporate footprint is small, the scale of our portfolio means we must consider its wider impact to ensure investee companies adopt sustainable business models for the benefit of all stakeholders.
Witan has developed a comprehensive but targeted strategy that reflects Witan as a business, our role in the world and what is most important to us. The strategy has been designed with consultation and full support from the Board. It is embedded across all of Witan and is conveyed to the fund managers we engage
Governing Our Approach
Witan has embedded sustainable considerations across our entire investment approach, not just in a limited part of our portfolio. Blanket exclusions, with the exception of controversial weapons, run counter to this strategy. The investment managers the Company engages are required to invest responsibly, with the expectation that its principles will be adopted by the companies we invest in.
The Board and the Investment Team review and take ownership of this strategy. Members of the Board and Investment Team are responsible for the delivery of our strategy and the due diligence and monitoring of how our managers engage and consider sustainability-related issues.
Our responsible investment strategy
Witan has developed a comprehensive but targeted strategy that reflects where Witan can have the biggest positive impact, namely the characteristics of our investment portfolio and our engagement with the companies in it. We believe that capital allocation and engagement have more long-term impact than an exclusionary approach. The visual below provides more detail on Witan’s strategy, target and focus areas.
More information on our responsible investment approach and activity in 2021 can be found in our Annual Report on pages 18-25