The Trustee of The Oxford Funds acts on behalf of all investors in the Funds. The Trustee sets the investment objectives and distribution policy of The Oxford Funds.
Our company culture, governance structure and investment philosophy encourage us to look beyond the short term to focus on our investors’ long term aims
In order to be effective stewards, we recognise that we must manage a range of risks, including regulatory, legal, reputational, environmental and social. However, we do not believe that assessment of these risks, or ‘responsible investment’, is somehow separate from the investment process. Instead, we believe that effective governance – the process by which decisions are made and implemented – is critical to ensure these factors are wholly integrated into the investment process. We are fortunate that our company culture, governance structure and investment philosophy encourage us to look beyond the short term, enabling us to stay focused on our purpose, to help our investors achieve their long term aims.
A culture of best practice across environmental, social and governance concerns contributes to effective stewardship of assets
OUem receives hundreds of investment ideas annually, with only a very small proportion meeting our demanding investment and governance criteria
The use of fossil fuels by society and the impact on the environment is one of the most pressing, multifaceted issue of our time. Solutions need to be found to help reduce demand for fossil fuels by business and consumers, but this will take time and happen through a mix of government policies, research and innovation. It is important that the endowment is invested in such a way that it can continue to be part of the University’s overall approach to this issue – engagement and collaboration are key tenets of our Governance Policy.
In addition, as we look for ways to address the reliance on fossil fuels, we use our permanent capital and appetite for innovation to back investment strategies focused on solutions.
As far back as 2010, the team allocated resource to researching the issue of carbon emissions, the inevitable reduction on the dependence of fossil fuels and how this could be implemented to make returns for The Oxford Funds. The team reviewed clean technology venture funds, funds excluding fossil fuel extractors and funds focused on renewable energy, but they did not meet the demanding investment and governance hurdles. We found and backed a team with an innovative approach focused on analysing the resource efficiency of quoted companies and their use of energy, water and waste; under the thesis that the most efficient companies should outperform their peers over the long term.
The returns when funding innovation can be over a longer period than tolerated by a conventional investor. With our long term capital, we can support the identification of the start-up businesses of today, which will become the most innovative and successful businesses of the future. We have sought out groups globally, which own innovative assets across sectors including environmental technology, healthcare technology and information technology.
We have recently co-invested in a company developing a protein substitute for eggs. This is designed to reduce the impact of traditional farming methods on the environment – both in terms of land use and reduction of methane emissions from livestock, which is a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide (www.epa.gov). This substitute should also reduce the cost of maintaining sufficient protein in diets.
Turnaround groups can provide vital lifelines to struggling companies but there are inherent potential social impacts, particularly if the companies involved have struggled under poor management in the past, and have large workforces.
The OUem team completed an extensive due diligence process on a UK group with an impressive track record. The group’s focus on good governance within the UK turnaround universe was apparent.
The lead manager contributed to an industry group’s “Turnaround Code of Ethics” and the team established a foundation which provides training, grants and events to help get individuals back into work if positions are made redundant. Reference calls confirmed the group acts with the upmost integrity and OUem felt comfortable investing in the strategy.
Like us, our investment managers will spend considerable time on diligence before they invest. They will take time to understand the company’s business, its competitors as well as spending time with the management teams. They will often be the largest investor in their companies. As a result, they may be called upon to work with boards on matters such as senior management incentivisation or have an active dialogue on matters such as capital structure or strategy drift.
Each year public companies will have an AGM at which proposals are put forward for shareholders to vote on. The vast majority of these proposals relate to reappointment of board directors, reappointment of auditors, remuneration or share allocations.
We take best practice from a variety of frameworks, including the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and the United Nations Global Compact, and we will join organisations that we feel are appropriate to further our governance processes.
OUem is a member of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change.
In 2015, we met with over 60 endowments, foundations and other peers.
The Investment Committee brings a wealth of investment experience and knowledge of managing significant endowments and foundations
Sir Paul Ruddock is the Chairman of the Investment Committee. He is a commissioner of the National Infrastructure Commission, a trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, a member of The Bard Graduate Center Executive Planning Committee, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, Bancroft Fellow of Mansfield College, Oxford University, a member of the International Advisory Board of The Walters Art Museum and an Ambassador for AfriKids. Sir Paul is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow of the Victoria and Albert Museum and its former Chairman. He was co-founder and former CEO of Lansdowne Partners.
Professor Louise Richardson FRSE is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford. A political scientist by training, she has served as the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews, and spent 20 years on the faculty of Harvard University, latterly as Executive Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
Mr Jeremy Bennett was formerly Chief Executive Officer at Nomura International plc. He is Vice Chairman at the Disasters Emergency Committee. He has been a regulator, a banker, a charity worker and amongst other things designed the successful asset protection scheme for HM Treasury which bailed out the banks in 2008.
Mr Peter Davies is a member of the Management Committee and is head of the Developed Markets Strategy at Lansdowne Partners. Prior to joining Lansdowne in 2001, Peter was a Director at Merrill Lynch Investment Managers (MLIM, previously Mercury Asset Management). Peter joined MLIM in 1993. Peter is a member of the investment committee of Magdalen College, Oxford, and he has a first class honours degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Oxford.
Mr Ian Kennedy was formerly Director of Research at Cambridge Associates. He has served as primary consultant to a number of major endowment funds, foundations, pension funds and international organisations. Ian is Chairman of both the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Investment Advisory Committee and the finance committee of the Academy of American Poets.
Mr Jason Klein is Senior Vice President and Chief Investment Officer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, where he is responsible for long term investment assets of US$4 billion; he was previously the Chief Investment Officer for The Museum of Modern Art in New York and a principal in private equity. Jason is a member of the Global Capital Markets Advisory Council of the Milken Institute, The Economic Club of New York and a Fellow of the Foreign Policy Association. Jason earned a JD from The University of Pennsylvania, an MBA from Wharton, and a BA from Wesleyan University.
Mr Michael McCaffery is Chairman of Makena Capital Management which has over US$18 billion assets under management, and he was formerly President and Chief Executive Officer of Stanford Management Company. He is currently a Trustee of the Rhodes Trust and Chair of the Rhodes Trust Finance and Investment Committee.
Dr Dambisa Moyo is a global economist and author who analyses the macroeconomy and international affairs. She currently serves on a number of boards including Barclays Bank, the financial services group. She was previously an economist at Goldman Sachs and worked at the World Bank in Washington, DC. She completed a PhD in economics at Oxford University and holds a master’s degree from Harvard University. She completed an undergraduate degree in chemistry and an MBA in finance at American University in Washington, DC.
Mr Nick Ritblat was an Executive Director of British Land for 19 years and President of the British Property Federation in 2005. In 2006, he started his own business consultancy and two capital markets hedge funds. Nick sits on the investment committees of two endowments and of The National Gallery Trust, and chairs the Residential Property Forum of The Bank of England. He is also a Governor of The Hall School.