It might be lockdown, but that didn’t stop our annual Investor Days with our clients and shareholders.
Last November, the Brunel team hosted meetings for clients, shareholders, and committee members at three events in Oxford, Bristol and Exeter, but in 2020 we all congregated online for two very successful and informative webinars.
On November 18th, we ran a session to engage with the listed and private markets specialists. The session on the 19th focused on the work of the Responsible Investment team. We were delighted to host 150 attendees across the two days. Although the sessions were virtual, audience members were able to put their questions to the speakers, ensuring the sessions covered a wide range of topics and interests.
The sessions were introduced by Denise Le Gal, Chair of our Board, and chaired by James Russell-Stracey, Chief Stakeholder Officer.
This was followed by a brief synopsis of how far the partnership has grown over the past 12-18 months. A combination of transitions and fund launches has taken AUM from £8bn in mid-2019 to £15.3bn current.
In that time, the range of active listed portfolios expanded from two to seven, with three more now under development. Stakeholders were presented with a high-level view of those funds, in terms of investment styles and strategies, as well as outcomes in ESG terms. David Cox, Head of Listed Markets, gave us a market overview, highlighting the current risks and themes for investors.
On the private markets side, Richard Fanshawe, Head of Private Markets, took us through the most recent developments, which have been the expansion of the team, taking on specialist managers, and the launch of two cycles of the new Brunel Infrastructure Fund. Highlights discussed also included fee savings obtained for pension funds and our investment in ‘green’ greenhouses in East Anglia.
The Responsible Investment Day, delivered by Faith Ward, Helen Price and Laura Hobbs, carried the tagline ‘from aspiration to action’, and outlined how Brunel has shifted from a focus on manager selection and infrastructure in 2019 to a focus on outcomes – including our own Outcomes Report – and on climate action in 2020. The Responsible Investment webinar therefore focused on both climate change and on the ‘S’ of ESG.
On climate change, this included covering the launch of the Net Zero investor framework and Brunel’s PRI report. On social issues, it included such areas as diversity & inclusion, and human capital more broadly.
In short, an enormous range of issues and markers of progress were covered across the two sessions, and the Q&A sessions ensured plenty of interaction. Despite being limited to operating online, it was very important to us to ensure the kind of close engagement the Investor Days enable and to demonstrate the enormous achievements Brunel has made this year to our partner funds despite challenging conditions.
We look forward to the next round in 2021!