Saker Nusseibeh, CEO, Hermes Investment Management:
"Hermes is an unusual asset manager. Our shareholders are effectively 320,000 beneficiaries, part of whose money we manage. This ownership structure, and our long history of trying to serve their needs, gives us a unique perspective on how to discharge our duty as fund managers. We understand that the investment decisions we make on their behalf, helps to determine the shape of the future society in which they will have to live. We have a duty of care to use their capital to achieve holistic outcomes that best serve them. For that reason we became the first, and so far the only, asset manager with a specific pledge to put the interests of beneficiaries before our own and to behave with integrity, responsibility and with due care to the environment.
"Perhaps, most importantly, because of our close connection with the beneficiaries we serve, we understand fundamentally that the financial world we deal with does not exist as separate from society, but is intrinsically interwoven into it. Our beneficiaries (capital owners, if you like) often work for the companies we invest in on their behalf, or are consumers of their products, or are involved in their supply chain. Therefore the decisions these companies make, about their employment policies or their development policies for example, directly affect the beneficiaries and their families as well as shape the environment they shall live in as retirees. For that reason we engaged with companies from the start. Hermes’ first CEO, Ralph Quartano, launched the idea of engagement as we understand it today in his famous intervention admonishing Marks & Spencer’s Board for the special loans they made available to directors. For the same reason Alistair Ross Goobey, Hermes’ third CEO, launched the idea of pursuing governance with his call for the separation of the roles of CEO and Chairman and for limited tenure contracts for FTSE100 CEOs, as well as for transparency.
"Cardinal Nichols in launching the Blueprint for Better Business said “For any business to retain the implicit licence to operate given by society in the long term, the primary motivation must be, and be seen to be, the desire to provide goods that are truly good, and services that truly serve people.” We understand that working in finance should not strip us of our humanity. For that reason half of our bonus is paid for ‘good’ behaviours within the firm and we collectively try to give something back to our local community in Tower Hamlets, not by writing guilt motivated cheques, but through physically working with local schools and community centres.
"It is right that we celebrate Business in the Community’s Responsible Business Week, for in many ways, over the past thirty years, the very essence of our existence as a firm has been the championing of the values that BITC champions."