Five asset management experts on ‘giving back’ to communities

Five industry experts talk about their companies’ philanthropic endeavours amid these challenging times

Tom Weller, James Penny, Rebecca Craddock-Taylor, James Lloyd, Steve Windsor
From left to right: Tom Weller, James Penny, Rebecca Craddock-Taylor, James Lloyd and Steve Windsor

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Representatives from Gresham House, TAM Asset Management, Evenlode Investment, Swiss Life Asset Managers UK and Atrato Group outline what they are doing to support charitable causes.

Tom Weller, head of Innovation at Evenlode Investment

In 2019 we learnt from The Alison Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship that in the UK 2% of venture capital went to all-female teams. By 2022 we were name dropped in the review after proudly investing in Annie Leeson, founder and CEO of Agricarbon, our investment in the future of ground truth data from soil carbon measurement.

This was done through Evenlode Impact, wholly owned by Evenlode Investment Management for the Evenlode Foundation. Evenlode Impact is now a signatory to the Investing in Women Code, and so we are committed to providing annual funding data disaggregated by gender and to adopt best practices that will benefit female business owners.

We have been keeping this data already, of course, and we know that half our current portfolio companies were founded by teams with at least one woman, and more than 1 in 5 of our founders are female. Three of our teams are 100% female, one is a 50:50 mix, and the remaining six are 1 in 3 or 1 in 4. Our deals underway are all female or 50:50 teams, and the current pipeline of opportunities is similar.

Phoebe Greenwold is now championing development of our impact investment diversity strategy. We are currently using gender data now available at scale from The Gender Index to identify where we can best focus our networking to increase the diversity of our pipeline.

She also ensures we are, as a team, responsible for supporting equality in all interactions with entrepreneurs. We are also active in developing diversity by diverse metrics and we expect best practice from various teams to inform all our Foundation activities, and across all our operations.

James Penny, chief investment officer at TAM Asset Management

With 50 riders taking part from all elements of financial services and beyond, the Waterloo to Waterloo Charity Cycle 2023 was a fantastic event in all respects – and raised an impressive £50,000 for veterans charity Waterloo Uncovered.

222 miles were cycled from London Waterloo to the Battle of Waterloo, where the charity has been helping army veterans achieve recovery through archaeological discovery since 2015.

The three-day route took us all through some poignant monuments to WW2, WW1 and into the Napoleonic wars, making the fundraising challenge a powerful tribute to both the charity itself and the very essence of why we must help those suffering as a consequence of human conflict. 

A longer ride than our 2022 cycle from London to Paris, but just as much fun, and being able to raise £100,000 for a single charity in two years is a needle-moving amount of money.

It was also impressive to see so many people taking up cycling for the first time just to partake this year – it is often those new to the sport who have to dig the deepest to finish.

Rebecca Craddock-Taylor, director for sustainable investment, at Gresham House

Being a sustainable corporate citizen is vital to our culture at Gresham House and reinforces our commitment towards addressing the wider challenges we face as a society. We strive to support causes which align with our company values and that can make a difference in the world, and this is reflected by the charities we actively engage with. This year we have chosen to support Campaign Against Living Miserably, Royal Society for Blind Children, Jack and Jill Children’s Foundation and Peter McVerry Trust

Our support has taken the form of individual and corporate donations, with employees taking on their own fundraising initiatives alongside group and team challenges. The latter has included Race the Thames, where we have entered several teams over the past three years, and which also supports London Youth Rowing. 

We are committed to ensuring that all employees can undertake volunteering activities and are supported throughout their endeavours. Our volunteering policy provides all employees with two paid days off annually to participate in a volunteering activity or project. 

In 2022, Gresham House plc and employees raised £90,000 for various charities through events and donations. We also offered our support for the crisis in Ukraine. A group including seven Gresham House employees successfully transported humanitarian aid from the UK to Warsaw and helped relocate 45 Ukrainian refugees. 

Over the coming years, we will remain relentlessly focused on our core priorities and on strengthening the foundations of our long-term growth through the continued integration of sustainability across all our investment activities as well as the way we behave as a part of wider society. 

James Lloyd, head of charities and endowments at Swiss Life Asset Managers UK

Swiss Life Asset Managers UK have launched Empowering Places, our UK social value strategy and community fund in partnership with our specialist charity fund, the Property Income Trust for Charities (PITCH) which invests in UK property specifically designed for UK charities and endowments.  

ESG is placed at the heart of the fund’s investment strategy and our focus on the ‘S’ culminated in an extensive social value project completed in 2022. The UK social value strategy focuses on uplifting the communities around our property assets, delivering tailored impacts that respond to the needs of local communities. 

Our strategy is ‘place based’ and aims to tackle these challenges by relying on local authority data and the close community connections of local charities, so that we have a clear understanding of the needs within the communities in which we invest. 

We plan to deliver on this commitment through the launch of our UK Community Fund. This includes a commitment of £20,000 in 2023 to support local community projects and causes. 

In addition to this, we plan to review our processes and policies in PITCH to incorporate social value considerations, and to use our influence to engage with our supply chain and collaborate with our partners to maximise our impact. 

Steve Windsor, principal and co-founder at Atrato Group

Since we founded Atrato we have aspired to be a progressive asset manager with a social conscience. We have committed to give a percentage of our profits to charitable causes across the Atrato Group.

Atrato Group’s charity partners include IntoUniversity and The Brain Tumour Charity. Last year, we swam a relay across Lake Geneva – a total of 73km – for The Brain Tumour Charity, and raised over £10,000.

In May this year, we held a careers workshop at our offices with IntoUniversity to give a group of children a taste of life in our sector. At the investment trust level, we have historically given to sector-specific charities relevant to the areas in which we invest. For example, FareShare and The Trussell Trust both help fight the food poverty crisis across the UK, and Atrato Capital, investment adviser to Supermarket Income REIT, have supported them since its launch six years ago. 

We also encourage our employees to sign up as STEM Ambassadors for STEM Learning, the programme aimed at encouraging young people to progress to higher levels in STEM – which refers to science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects – at both school and career levels. 

This year, we hope to launch the Atrato Foundation, which will be dedicated to pursuing our charitable ambitions. What charities need are long-term partnerships, rather than one off financial gifts, so they have some security over their future income.

Therefore, when we partner with charities, we will aim to commit to three-to-five-year partnerships. 

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