Not quite a direct quote from Tammy Wynette, but it reflects a conundrum for the Trust; as Trustees we have a legal duty to both ensure the Trust is able to continue to meet its Deeds of Trust by managing its resources effectively and to ensure that we protect its reputation. In addition, as a charity set up by BASW, we have a responsibility to act in a manner that is acceptable to BASW and the social work profession as a whole.
To achieve the above, the Trust has agreed a series of policies and procedures that establishes how we will manage the resources at our disposal, namely the funds that have been accrued over the 50 years since the Trust was set up and the income that we receive each year, primarily from BASW and the Civil Service Insurance Society Charity Fund.
The bulk of our resources are invested to provide some additional income, albeit not a lot in the current financial situation. The Trustees use an investment broker to manage our portfolio of investments and we are able to give our broker some instructions as to how we want our portfolio to be developed, what we do and what we don’t want to invest in. We have agreed an Ethical Investments Policy, which is accessible on our website, that state the general principles that we want followed.
In essence, we want our investments to reflect our commitment to green and ethical technologies and to avoid companies that might not uphold the principles contained in BASW’s Code of Ethics, such as armament manufacturers, tobacco-based industries or where human rights are known to have been violated.
The difficulty lies in putting such principles into action in the context of managing investments in a manner that is low risk; this, we are advised, requires a spread of our investments across a range of products and funds that cannot guarantee that those principle will always be met. However, there are investment brokers who specialise in ethical and green investments, and the Trustees are currently reviewing how we can have the highest level of assurance that our resources are being invested in accordance with the principles contained in BASW’s Code of Ethics and our Ethical Investments Policy.
The emphasis here has to be on the fact that “we are advised” when we review our portfolio each year; as Trustees, we are not investment specialists and have to trust in the advice we get from a broker registered with the Financial Conduct Authority. Ultimately, we have, with apologies to Tammy Wynette, to “Stand by our Broker, even though they are hard to understand, because, after all they are just a broker.”