Effective April 1, 2017, Wespath Benefits and Investments revised the investment guidelines for its Equity Social Values Plus Fund (ESVPF) to provide an option to investors who have a heightened focus on companies’ environmental and social performance. These revised guidelines do not affect any other Wespath funds. ESVPF remains a passively managed global stock fund and Wespath has adopted a customized index called the MSCI World Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) ex Fossil Fuels Index as its new performance benchmark.
“We recognize that some of our institutional investors and defined contribution plan participants have other choices for aligning their investments with their values and convictions, which have been reflected in petitions adopted over the past several years by a threshold number of annual conferences,” said Chief Investment Officer Dave Zellner. “We spent the past year gathering feedback from our stakeholders and discussing how we could best respond to the concerns expressed in these petitions.”
The revised guidelines address concerns expressed in petitions approved by a threshold number of annual conferences dealing with:
- Companies that derive a significant amount of revenue from the production of fossil fuels
- Specific companies identified by the conferences as linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Wespath Benefits and Investments Board Director, Rev. Dr. Ed Tomlinson, said, “The Equity Social Values Plus Fund provides an option for Wespath plan participants and institutional investors to invest in alignment with their convictions regarding issues related to the environment and human rights.”
As part of a statement released by United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR), an advocacy group focused on Israeli-Palestinian peace, Co-Chair Rev. John Wagner said, “While we expect the conversation to continue, UMKR welcomes the Equity Social Values Plus Fund as an important step in our church’s commitments to Christian stewardship through moral investing.”
ESVPF is open only to Wespath’s institutional clients and individuals in certain defined contribution retirement plans who self-direct their accounts. These changes do not affect any other Wespath funds.
Read more about the recent changes to ESVPF, including an online Question and Answer, at wespath.org/esvpf.