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Stewart Investors’ Worldwide Sustainability Strategy

Stewart Investors seeks superior companies with beneficial products and services. McKnight values Stewart Investors’ truly long-term steady approach to investing.

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Investment

$25 million; originated in 2016

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Rationale

This global public equity strategy seeks well managed, high quality companies that contribute to sustainable development: providing sustainable goods and services; building necessary infrastructure; and providing access to useful, accurately priced financial products.

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Benchmark

MSCI All Country World Index

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Returns

Financial Returns: Underperforming benchmark, track record too short for conclusive assessment, portfolio of $32 million as of Q4 2017

Social & Environmental Impact: In 2017 Stewart Investors reported its engagement with six of the world’s largest palm oil buyers, some of which are held in this fund. Their exploration focused on how companies buy and track palm oil used for food and household products and different approaches for managing risks and improving practices. Globally, irresponsible palm oil production has led to deforestation, illegal land grabbing, poor labor practices and many other abuses, particularly in South East Asia. Investor inquiries about sustainable sourcing underscore to companies that their owners are watching carefully; it’s a powerful example of investor influence that most fund managers overlook.

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Lessons Learned

Fund managers with a long-term perspective must speak up to counter short-termism. Stewart Investors puts their money where their mouth is regarding the value of sustainability in the long run. Here is their op-ed in  The Financial Times supporting Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan.

Disclaimer of Endorsement: The McKnight Foundation does not endorse or recommend any commercial products, processes, or service providers.

Last updated 7/18/2019

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