Investment Services

Investment Services

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Responsible Investing

Background

In recent years, Queen’s has made a significant commitment to enhancing and formalizing its approach to Responsible Investing relating to its pension, endowment, and operational investment assets, which together comprise nearly $4 billion.

Queen’s Responsible Investing Policy, approved by the Board of Trustees in May 2017, formally recognizes that awareness and the effective management of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) related risks and opportunities may improve long-term performance.

 

About responsible investing

Queen’s defines responsible investing as investment approaches that take ESG factors into consideration. It is based on the belief that such factors can be material to shareholder value across industries and through time. Where an ESG factor is directly relevant to the financial performance (risk and return) of an investment, it is a relevant and proper consideration.

Decisions pertaining to responsible investing must be guided by the fiduciary responsibilities of the Board of Trustees to ensure the prudent investment of the university’s assets. As part of these fiduciary responsibilities, Queen’s requires all external investment managers to take due regard of ESG issues in making investment decisions.

Queen’s also believes that corporate engagement activities (such as letters to management and voting of proxies) can be effective when dealing with ESG issues. As such, each external investment manager is asked to engage where appropriate and to regularly provide extensive reporting on their ESG activities to support ongoing due diligence.

“ESG” refers to: environmental, social, and governance

 

United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment

Queen’s Responsible Investing Policy was based on the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), which is the world’s leading proponent of responsible investment.

This organization works to understand the investment implications of ESG factors and to support its international network of investor signatories in incorporating these factors into their investment and ownership decisions.

The UNPRI acts in the long-term interests of its signatories, of the financial markets and economies in which they operate, and ultimately of the environment and society as a whole.

The significant majority of Queen’s external investment managers (representing approximately 90% of all investment assets) are signatories to the UNPRI. As signatories, they commit to assessing ESG factors in the context of investment decisions as represented by the six principles of the UNPRI.

 

How Queen’s investments are managed

The University, acting through its Board of Trustees, has overall fiduciary responsibility for all pension and non-pension investments.

The Board of Trustees has established a Pension Committee and an Investment Committee to help ensure that these responsibilities are met.

To achieve the funds’ objectives and diversify risk, both committees employ a variety of external investment managers with areas of specialization across a range of strategies, with a careful emphasis on risk management, as well as a long-term focus.

The Department of Investment Services at Queen’s manages the day-to-day investment activities of the funds in accordance with policies approved by the Board of Trustees. This includes working closely with the Investment Committee and Pension Committee on:

  • investment matters and implementing committee directives
  • conducting ongoing due diligence on external investment managers
  • researching investment opportunities
  • measuring performance against objectives
  • recommending changes in manager structure and investment policy

 

Oversight of external investment managers

External investment manager monitoring requirements are outlined in: Responsible Investing Procedure #1 (PDF 35 KB)

 

Disclosure of holdings

Queen's is committed to transparency in its investing activities. As such, we voluntarily disclose detailed holdings information for our pension fund (QPP), Pooled Endowment Fund (PEF), and Pooled Investment Fund (PIF).

For current reports, see:

 

Fiduciary responsibility

In an investment context, fiduciary responsibilities include the duties of prudence and loyalty.

The duty of prudence requires that investment decisions take into account appropriate plan-specific factors, the specific nature of the investment under consideration, and the investment portfolio at large.

The duty of loyalty requires that fiduciaries act honestly, in good faith, in the best financial interests of the beneficiaries, and that all beneficiaries are treated with an even hand. In the case of trusts expected to continue for an extended period, the best financial interest of the beneficiaries should be assessed over the long term.

 

Divestment

Why has the University not divested from fossil fuels?

A Principal’s Advisory Committee on Divestment from Fossil Fuels was struck by the Principal of Queen’s University in January 2015 to consider the case advanced for Queen’s University to divest its Pooled Endowment Fund and Pooled Investment Fund from investments in the fossil fuels industries.

This matter had been brought forward to the Principal as an Expression of Concern in November 2014 by a Queen’s University student group known as Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change (QBACC). After an extensive consultation process, the decision was made not to divest. 

Report from the Principal’s Advisory Committee on Divestment:
Fossil Fuels (PDF 19 MB)

 

Investment managers employed by Queen's

Below is a list of external investment managers retained by Queen’s. Links to each manager’s ESG policy and UNPRI transparency report are linked where available.

  • PEF=Pooled Endowment Fund
  • PIF=Pooled Investment Fund
  • QPP=Queen’s Pension Plan

     

Manager Fund Link to ESG Approach UNPRI Transparency Reports
PEF PIF QPP
BlackRock x x   BlackRock ESG Investment Statement 2018-07-27 (PDF 255 KB)

BlackRock PRI reporting framework 2019

Burgundy x x x Burgundy ESG Approach Became UNPRI signatory in October 2019. Initial transparency report not yet publicly available
Connor, Clark & Lunn      x

Connor, Clark & Lunn - Approach to Responsible Investing

Connor, Clark & Lunn PRI reporting framework 2019

Fiera Private Debt     x

Fiera Private Debt - Responsible Investment

Fiera Private Debt PRI reporting framework 2019

Fisher x    

Fisher - Environmental, Social and Governance Philosophy Statement

Fisher PRI reporting framework 2019

Hamilton Lane x    

Hamilton Lane - Responsible Investing

Hamilton Lane PRI reporting framework 2019

Letko, Brosseau     x

Letko, Brosseau - Responsible Investment

Became UNPRI signatory in April 2019. Initial transparency report not yet publicly available
Loomis, Sayles x x   Loomis, Sayles - Environmental, Social and Governance Issues Loomis, Sayles PRI reporting framework 2019
Macquarie x x   Macquarie - Responsible Investment Macquarie PRI reporting framework 2019
Northleaf x     Northleaf - Corporate & Investment Responsibility  Northleaf PRI reporting framework 2019
OMERS Infrastructure x   x OMERS - Sustainable Investing at OMERS Not a UNPRI signatory
Orbis     x Orbis - Frequently Asked Questions Orbis PRI reporting framework 2019
Oxford Properties (OMERS) x   x Oxford Properties - Sustainable Investing at OMERS Not a UNPRI signatory
PIMCO x x x PIMCO - ESG Investing  PIMCO PRI reporting framework 2019
State Street Global Advisors     x State Street Global Advisors - Asset Stewardship State Street Global Advisors PRI reporting framework 2019 
Sun Life x   x Sun Life - Beyond ESG Sun Life PRI reporting framework 2019
TD Asset Management x x x TD Asset Management - Sustainable Investing TD Asset Management PRI reporting framework 2019
17Capital x     Policy is available to accredited investors but not to the public (policy is reported to Queen’s). Not a UNPRI signatory

Community feedback

Queen’s welcomes feedback from the university community relating to Responsible Investing.

Special requests can be made via the University Secretariat under:
Responsible Investing Procedure #2 (PDF 40 KB)

A documented submission must be put forward that clearly presents the case for the proposed action(s) pertaining to the University’s investments, which must be consistent with the University’s Fiduciary Responsibilities.

The submission must be accompanied by at least 200 individual signatures, with a minimum of 20 signatures from at least three of five constituencies (i.e. faculty, students, staff, alumni, and retirees.