Human Resources

Socially Responsible Investing

Road to Socially Responsible Investing

The SRI (Socially Responsible Investing) Fund is an investment available to active members of the Western Pension Plans. It was added to Western’s portfolio of investment choices in 2008, and was managed by Mackenzie Financial until May 2012, when Mackenzie served notice that they had terminated the fund that constituted Western’s SRI fund. Aberdeen Asset Management (a company that had provided portfolio advice to Mackenzie for this fund in the past) took over management of the fund. In October 2016, management of the fund was transferred to MFS Investment Management (“MFS”). 

What is socially responsible investing?

The definition of socially responsible investing has evolved over the years, in part due to the increased public interest on issues such as climate change and the inclusion by major Canadian public pension plans of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in their investment analysis. Socially responsible investing is broadly defined as the integration of ESG factors in the selection and management of investments.

It has several components:

New SRI Portfolio Management - October 2016

In concert with Western's plan to improve pension operations and services for members by consolidating a number of services at Sun Life Financial Western has also moved to a new advisor for the Socially Responsible Global Investment Fund - MFS Investment Management.  On October 1, 2016, MFS replaced Aberdeen Asset Management which has managed the fund since March 2008.

Aberdeen’s performance in this equity fund had fallen short of expectations in the past few years, underperforming significantly against the market and their benchmark.  The Joint Pension Board made a decision to investigate and evaluate alternative managers (nine managers were reviewed), and selected MFS as the best provider for Western members.  Some of the reasons:

The MFS fund is well diversified by sectors and they seek to invest in companies that have:

It is to Western’s advantage that the MFS fund is already on the Sun Life core platform, so no additional administrative set up is required.

Members may wish to consider continued or new investment in this fund.  The screens are similar to those used by Aberdeen, and involve screening out companies that generate more than 10% of their revenues from the manufacture of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, the manufacture or sale of weapons, gambling operations and production or trade of pornography. They also eliminate companies with poor labour practices and poor environmental track records.

For more information contact Martin Bélanger, Director, Investments at or call extension 80314.