For the second year running, European foundations and foundation association representatives gathered to share their experience on "mission investing", an umbrella term that refers to the conscious consideration of mission in endowment investment decisions. The meeting was organised by onValues and co-hosted by the Mistra Foundation, EFC and SwissFoundations. Nearly 30 participants from nine European countries met in Zurich to share experiences, discuss challenges and look for practical actions to advance mission investing in the foundation sector.
The meeting report, "Putting mission investing to work", highlights a range of recommended actions for foundations, foundation associations and foundation advisors aimed at accelerating the uptake of mission investing in Europe. It summarises meeting insights on critical topics ranging from the strategic framing of mission investing as part of a foundation's post-financial crisis strategy, to advice on sourcing and implementing impact investments directly linked to a foundation's goals. The report also includes a section drawn from research on the rapidly evolving European landscape of mission investing and a section on current thinking on fiduciary duty in relation to foundation mission investment.
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«Putting mission investing to work»
Over the past five years, the gold price has risen by almost 20% annually. Investors account for 40% of total gold demand and have been integral in driving gold prices to their current levels. In an article in the September 2012 issue of Investments & Pensions Europe, onValues Managing Director Ivo Knoepfel calls on investors to understand the role they play and the responsibility they bear in supporting the extraction of the precious metal. "Their perception is that they are a negligible player in gold and unlike the jewellery sector, industries and central banks do not carry any major responsibility," says Knoepfel. With contributions from the World Gold Council, pension funds and asset managers, the article discusses the environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in gold production and introduces actions that investors can take to ensure an environmentally-friendly, conflict-free, socially sustainable supply of gold.
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«Extracting the true cost of gold - I&PE September 2012»
The annual reference document of the Swiss foundation sector (Schweizer Stiftungsreport) this year includes a guest article by onValues MD Ivo Knoepfel on ways in which foundations can better align their investments to their mission. The article discusses the spectrum of options available to foundations ranging from program related investments to venture philanthropy, impact investments, and sustainable and responsible investments. It recognises the challenges that implementing such investments can pose to smaller foundations with limited resources and proposes more collaboration between foundations to overcome this, e.g. in the context of a newly formed working group of the SwissFoundations association.
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«Swiss Foundations Report 2012» (available in German and French only)
onValues and Forum Nachhaltige Geldanlagen Schweiz today published the results of the regular survey of the Swiss sustainable investment market per end of December 2011, which includes sustainable assets managed in Switzerland through funds, mandates and structured products. A total of 20 managers reported their assets under management in a range of different sustainable investment styles.
According to the survey, sustainable investment volumes in Switzerland remained steady at around 42 billion Swiss francs in 2011 despite the difficult market environment. In 2011, lower investment volumes in funds and structured products were offset by growth in mandates. Institutional investors strengthened their position at the expense of private investors, leaving each group with a fifty per cent share of the market. Bonds saw their market share rise by ten percentage points to 31 per cent in 2011, while equities' share of the market fell by the same amount and now stands at 53 per cent.
Looking at market trends, Ivo Knoepfel, the managing director of onValues and co-author of the study, points to the growing significance of ESG integration and active shareholder approaches: "Investments where shareholder voting rights are being exercised with consideration of ESG issues have once again grown sharply and have now reached the impressive level of 11.4 billion francs." He goes on to say, "Providers have begun integrating sustainability aspects into their financial analyses directly, so 9.1 billion Swiss francs are now invested in line with this approach. This development could be the key to a wider use of sustainable investments by occupational pension schemes in Switzerland."
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«Sustainable Investments in Switzerland 2011»