Russell Investments extends sustainable investing strategy to serve U.S. institutional market as demand for a solution rises

Western Washington University Foundation is first U.S. OCIO client to adopt strategy

SEATTLE, July 14, 2020 — Russell Investments announced today that the Western Washington University Foundation has become the first U.S. OCIO client to implement its sustainable investing strategy.

“We are seeing broadly rising market demand among U.S. institutional investors, particularly our not-for profit clientele, for solutions focused on sustainability,” said Lisa Schneider, managing director, Non Profits & Health Care Systems for Russell Investments. “Many of our OCIO clients are seeking strategies that explicitly consider and balance ESG risk factors among the companies they are investing in. We believe our sustainable investing strategy offers a solution that addresses their concerns and expectations.”

Russell Investments’ sustainable investing approach targets the following five objectives without altering the underlying investment engine:

  • Aims to increase exposure to companies participating in the green energy transition
  • Aims to increase exposure to companies with an above-average sustainability score
  • Excludes coal revenue-generating and tobacco companies
  • Targets 50% lower fossil-fuel reserves relative to the benchmark
  • Targets 50% lower carbon footprint relative to the benchmark

“Western’s Foundation is pleased with Russell Investments’ approach to ESG and to be the launch client for an investment solution which we believe balances our desire to invest in sustainable strategies with our need to achieve market-aligned returns,” said Mark Brovak, Chief Financial Officer, Western Washington University Foundation. “Our OCIO-selection team valued Russell Investments’ research and ESG investment processes. This investing approach allows us to lead by example without compromising our ultimate goal to effectively steward the Foundation’s portfolio.”

Since 2007, Russell Investments has been working with institutional clients around the world to embed their specific responsible investment requirements within their portfolios. The primary focus has been on reducing carbon footprint and shifting portfolios toward securities that have a higher likelihood of above-average investment performance due to financially sound sustainability practices.

“With years of experience implementing ESG-related solutions for our clients globally, we are committed to deliver on a dual set of objectives, meeting both investment and ESG sustainability goals,” said Matthew Beardsley, director, Institutional Investment Solutions for Russell Investments. “We are very excited about our ESG investment solutions that are available to Western’s Foundation and all of our clients who are seeking to invest more sustainably.”

Russell Investments’ ESG investment solutions include a “decarbonization” approach that is integral to its sustainability strategy and has been in use by clients outside the U.S. since 2015. Instead of applying a simple exclusionary screen to avoid companies with elevated carbon footprints/reserves, the firm’s research team has found that a more refined approach is required. For example, Russell Investments seeks to avoid unintentionally reducing exposure to renewable energy sources being developed by some of today’s higher carbon footprint firms, but which are on a trajectory for greater sustainability in the future. The firm’s research also indicates traditional ESG scores can often fall short and there’s a need for scoring metrics that discern which factors are truly “material” to a business’ sustainability outlook and future financial success in order to become better predictors of long-term return potential.

Globally, Russell Investments, which embeds responsible investment practices and ESG beliefs throughout its investment approach, manages about $44 billion in assets with specific ESG-related features (as of March 31, 2020.)

More information on Russell Investments’ ESG-research approach is available here.

About Russell Investments

Russell Investments is a leading global investment firm providing tailored solutions and services to institutions and individuals through financial intermediaries. Russell Investments is dedicated to improving people’s financial security, leveraging an 83-year client-centric heritage rooted in investment innovation. The firm is the fourth-largest adviser in the world with $270.1 billion in assets under management (as of 3/30/2020) and $2.5 trillion in assets under advisement (as of 12/31/2019) for clients in 32 countries. Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Russell Investments operates through 21 additional offices in major financial centers such as New York, London, Tokyo and Shanghai.


About Western Washington University Foundation

The Foundation was established in 1966 as a vehicle to encourage and receive private giving to WWU. Since that time, donors now provide nearly $15 million annually to the University in the form of current gifts, estate gifts and gifts in kind such as real estate, equipment and art. Gifts fund student scholarships and provide program and faculty member support. The Foundation is led by a group of dedicated board members who raise awareness about the importance of private support to public institutions. These alumni, parents, and community leaders bring their experiences in business, education, science, and non-profits, and share the common mission of engaging new friends for Western while also stewarding the more than $115 million in assets under the Foundation’s management.

 

 

Contact:
Steve Claiborne, 206-505-1858,newsroom@russellinvestments.com

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