On Behalf of the Trustees of the Diocese – Important Unit Fund Information
We are writing to let you know about exciting and positive developments regarding the Diocesan Unit Fund
The Investment Committee of the Diocesan Trustees is responsible for overseeing the Fund’s investments. Membership of that Committee has been in transition over the past two years. This transition created a logical opportunity for the Committee to reconsider our goals and approach to the Fund. Last summer, the Committee determined that a full review of our investment policy was needed. It also decided that, when a new policy was completed and approved, that the Trustees should undertake a competitive bidding process for investment managers. We are pleased to report that both are now completed.
New Investment Policy
Please review the new Investment Policy Statement that was approved unanimously by the Trustees in November 2015. This Statement is the result of much deliberation by the Investment Committee over several months. The Committee held a special meeting, stepping back to think about the purposes of the Fund, how we look at performance, and how we would like to see the Fund managed.
One result was to agree that we have a “Gospel imperative” to guide us in answering these questions. That imperative is articulated at the beginning of the IPS, which in turn states explicitly that, in addition to being good stewards of the resources entrusted to us, we believe the Diocese of Vermont should adopt socially responsible investment policies. To that end, we have aligned the social aspects of our policy with those of the Episcopal Church Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS). The standards by which the DFMS screens investments as “socially responsible” will now also be ours in the Diocese of Vermont.
The new Statement also more clearly articulates the standards by which investment managers will be hired, reviewed, and replaced as needed, bringing our approach in these matters more into line with DFMS standards. In particular, the Statement now sets a specific return target for the managers, creating a transparent criterion by which their performance will be assessed.
Results of Bidding Process
We invited four investment firms from around New England to submit proposals to the Trustees for managing the Fund under the new policy. After interviews with each, the Trustees in February unanimously selected Hickok & Boardman to continue as our managers. We were impressed with their commitment to the Episcopal Church in Vermont, as clearly demonstrated over their relationship with us during the past 10 years. More importantly, we were impressed with their enthusiasm for managing the Fund under the new investment policy. They demonstrated this among other ways by reducing in a meaningful way the management fees they will charge. Finally, because we are not changing managers, this outcome also ensures no disruption to the important bookkeeping and reporting for the Fund.
What You Can Expect
The Fund portfolios are already in transition to the new investment model. Our expectation is for Fund performance to begin to improve in the near future. In the meantime, we will ensure that you, as shareholders, receive regular, clear reports on the Fund’s performance. We will also keep you up to date on changes in the socially responsible investment policies as we receive them from the DFMS offices.
How to Contact Us
Most of you already know Julie Giguere, the Financial Administrator for the Diocese. Please don’t hesitate to contact her with any questions or concerns you might have, now or in the future.
We on the Trustees are also happy to try to answer any questions you might have.
Amy Hastings, Chair of the Trustees
Clark Anderson, Chair of the Investment Committee
We are excited about these changes and about the future of the Fund. That money is vital to our work for Christ throughout Vermont. We want to ensure to the very best of our ability that the Fund provides a growing and sustainable source of disbursable funds over the long term.
With very best regards and many thanks, we remain
Yours in Christ,
Amy Hastings & Clark Anderson