First Sentier Investors (FSI) has named Kate Turner its new global head of responsible investment while bolstering its responsible investment team in several markets.
Turner replaces Will Oulton, who is retiring from the business at the end of the year. Turner joined FSI in 2019 as a responsible investment specialist. She previously held roles at Sustainalytics, ICBC Standard Bank and Baker & McKenzie.
In addition to Turner's hire, FSI also announced four other appointments. Belinda White has been named an RI specialist. She has held the role of senior communications manager at FSI for the past three years and will transition to her new role in January 2023. Bjorn De Smedt has been hired as an RI specialist, joining FSI in October from Institutional Shareholder Services. White and De Smedt are both based in Sydney.
Further, Finian Power has been named the head of ESG policy and regulation. Power was previously the head of investment management in FSI's Dublin office and will play a "leading role" in developing FSI's understanding of current and emerging ESG and sustainability policy and regulatory issues globally.
Rhys Foulkes has also been appointed as a RI specialist in the London office. He moves into that role in the new year from his current role as a senior credit analyst at FSI.
The recent additions follow on from the appointment of RI nature and biodiversity specialist Joanne Lee, based in Hong Kong earlier this year, and Sydney-based RI Analyst Will Bartlett last year, FSI noted.
Turner's appointment and the increased headcount comes as the responsible investment team is embarking on its triennial review, Turner said.
"As our team has grown, and as we're at this point of revisiting our strategy, we felt it was really important to spend quite a bit of time to hone in on our vision and purpose," Turner said.
"There's so much going on, and so much to get caught up on, on issues ranging from ESG data and its quality, working with different investment teams, working on different client requests, regulatory reporting, there is so much happing and this is a growing team, we wanted to get on the same page and make sure that we were adhering to our principle purpose on the one hand, which is delivering better outcomes for society, environment and the economy and delivering better outcomes for our clients and working through what does that look like."
Turner highlighted focusing on excellence in investment decision-making, ESG integration and building on leading practice in investment stewardship and transparency.
In terms of topics of engagement that FSI would continue to explore, in addition to climate change, Turner pointed to the firm's focus on human rights and research on marine microplastic pollution.
"I think what has been rewarding in the last few years is picking topics that there isn't enough focus on and trying to dig in," she said.
"There is a big focus on modern slavery and a lot of focus on modern slavery through the market, but what we've tried to do through Investors Against Slavery and Trafficking and in our own business is put structure into our engagements and put this work to meaningful purpose by putting social issues in the spotlight.
"That's been a big focus - human rights and social issues more broadly. Another area is marine microplastic pollution. That's an issue that's an example of something that's unresearched, under-regulated and not getting the focus that it needs. I see us as adding value or even starting a conversation when it hasn't been started yet."
FSI chief executive officer Mark Steinberg thanked Oulton and welcomed Turner to her new role.
"I would like to personally thank Will for his significant contribution to the business and to the industry over the last 10 years," Steinberg said.
"During this time, he helped set up the Responsible Investment team and more recently played a central role in establishing the First Sentier MUFG Sustainable Investment Institute. Pleasingly, he will remain actively engaged with FSI in a non-executive/consultancy capacity.
"I am delighted to internally appoint Kate as successor to this important role. For the past three years, Kate has played an integral role in working with our investment and Responsible Investment teams to support the integration of ESG considerations into our investment processes, while also regularly engaging with clients and stakeholders."