The United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UN PRI) is
kicking out around six signatories next month for failing to fulfill
their reporting duties.
James Gifford, executive director of the
PRI, said the signatories would be de-listed after failing to complete
an annual mandatory questionnaire and survey that details the firm's
efforts to be a responsible investor. Further information on the
de-listed signatories is expected to be available at the end of August.
the annual survey and questionnaire is far from an easy process,
especially in the current environment where institutions are cutting
staff and budgets.
"It's very thorough. We get the most amounts of complaints because of its thoroughness," said Gifford.
provide some idea of the workload behind completing the survey,
Colonial First State Global Asset Management's Responsible Investment
Report 2008 is 44 pages.
Even though the UN PRI is shedding some
of the deadwood from its ranks Gifford said the PRI is not meant to be
a benchmarking tool but an process that will ensure more institutional
investors are "active owners" of their assets.
"PRI is still an
aspirational initiative. There's an aspect where if we try and
benchmark people and focus too much on the accountability, we might
lose the big picture which is creating that global culture of active
ownership," he said.
To promote this theme of active ownership
and make the engagement process easier, the UN PRI developed the
Clearinghouse in October 2006.
The Clearinghouse is an online
forum that allows signatories to work together and present a united
front on certain topics, rather than approach a company or issue as
The forum has gained 177 postings from
institutions since it was set up and more than 8,000 companies have
received at least one letter as a result of initiative organised
through the Clearinghouse this year.
Following its success, Gifford said the organisation is adding more resources to the forum to make the process more effective.
number one strategic priority of PRI is really to deliver the first
global collaborative investor forum for shareholder engagement," he
"We're hiring another two people in that area and we already have between two or three full time people on it at the moment."
insists the Clearinghouse is working and companies are listening to the
concerns of institutional investors - but it takes time.
are like oil tankers; they can't be turned around on a dime. I found
from my research the best engagements took two or three years of
prodding and persistence," he said.
"It's also important to
understand those letter writing campaigns are not an end in itself.
It's starts with letter writing and then it goes onto meeting with
companies and then to shareholder resolutions and public statements."