Pictured: Chris Ailman
UNPRI, which came under fire late last year for its own governance, has strengthened its board with the addition of Chris Ailman, the CIO of America’s second-largest pension fund, CalSTRS.
Ailman said in a statement last week that CalSTRS, which has assets of about US$180 billion, had been adopting ESG (environment, social and governance) principles since 1978, which made it a natural fit with the PRI ethos. A trustee of America’s largest fund, the US$270 billion CalPERS, is already on the PRI board. The two Sacramento-based funds, known as PERS and STRS, tend to be bellwethers for pension funds around the world.
His appointment follows the departure, disclosed last month, of six big Danish funds, which cited issues of governance with the PRI organisation without being specific publicly.
The other members of the board are: Glen Saunders, chair, a UK investment banker with strong links to sustainable investments; Else Bos, the chief executive the Dutch PGGM; Wolfgang Engshuber, a retired insurance executive; Pryia Sara Mathur, a trustee of CalPERS who specializes in infrastructure investing; David Russell, a responsible investing specialist at UK’s Universities Superannuation Scheme and Australia’s David Atkin, the chief executive of CBus.
Australian funds were early signatories to the UNPRI principles and the connection with Australia was strengthened last year with the appointment of Fiona Reynolds, former chief executive of AIST as PRI’s London-based chief.
In response to the Danish funds’ withdrawal of support, Reynolds said the move was “deeply disappointing” especially since PRI had decided at its annual general meeting in Cape Town in October, to undertake a review of its governance. It was working on the scope of the review when the Danish funds made their announcement. The PRI’s advisory council governance committee, chaired by Pryia Mathur, announced just before Christmas that an RFP would be issued by the end of January for an independent organization to conduct the review.
PRI has both a board and an advisory council, with some overlap of members. It also has various committees, also with some overlap.
Meanwhile, Joe Dear, the CIO of CalPERS, who has been battling an illness for some time, has taken indefinite leave to aid his recovery, it was announced last week. Ted Eliopoulos, current head of real estate, will be acting CIO in Dear’s absence.