Aberdeen Standard Investments, the global investment manager, has announced the launch of the UK Equity Impact – Employment Opportunities Fund*, in collaboration with Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of The Big Issue. The Fund will be managed by Lesley Duncan, Investment Director, Aberdeen Standard Investments.
The aim of the Fund is to generate a financial return over the long term by investing in companies which promote and implement good employment opportunities and practices. Generally companies will have more than 50% of their employees in the UK. The Fund Manager will identify companies for their potential to grow and sustain strong long-term financial returns and then they will be assessed to determine if they are committed to delivering sustainable employment opportunites. Creating good employment opportunities is one of the most significant benefits business brings to society and human capital management has moved to centre stage in corporate strategy. Investment in skills and attracting talent has become a basis for competitiveness, productivity and growth.
The impact criteria will typically include companies paying above average wage rates, being located in deprived areas, offering training opportunities and/or employing young people with the majority of those being in the UK.
Lesley Duncan, Fund Manager, Aberdeen Standard Investments, said:
“The strategy of the UK Equity Impact – Employment Opportunities Fund is designed to meet the dual objectives of strong financial returns, while supporting good employment opportunities and practices. By investing in quoted UK companies the Fund seeks to harness equity-market returns while also helping to direct significant capital in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 8 – full and productive employment. A special job assessment framework underpins the investment process, guiding portfolio selection and helping the Fund meet its impact objectives, thereby helping to address inequalities in the UK.
Good employment is fundamental to all aspects of personal and social wellbeing. The Fund offers investors a clearly defined means of investing in companies demonstrating best practice within human capital management, while seeking to deliver a competitive financial return over the longer term.”
Commenting on the collaboration, Nigel Kershaw OBE, Chair The Big Issue Group, said:
“The collaboration with Aberdeen Standard Investments will help Big Issue Invest advance its mission to dismantle poverty and create opportunity for people and communities across the UK. A percentage of the Fund’s manangement fee will go to The Big Issue Group, enabling the organisation to deliver this mission by continuing to finance social enterprises offering business solutions to social problems, across sectors including employment and training, health and well-being and financial and social inclusion. To date Big Issue Invest has invested in over 350 such organisations, including a recent investment in Mental Health and Employment Partnerships which is an innovative Social Impact Bond dedicated to helping people with profound mental health issues to secure work.”
The Fund will be actively managed, allowing analysts and the manager to engage with the companies, questioning their ability to deliver financial returns as well as ensuring that the identified employment impact remains a significant part of the strategy and aims.
The Good Economy Partnership, a social advisory and data analytics firm specialising in measuring social impacts, has been commissioned by Big Issue Invest to help develop the rigorous impact assessment framework that is being applied across the Fund’s investment universe.
While the focus of the Fund is on employment opportunities, the manager of the Fund will be mindful when investing in companies whose activities, products and services may not be deemed to be aligned to, or are incongruous with, the other United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
*The Fund is an OEIC managed by Standard Life Investments