Charities 'must have a right to scrutinise companies they invest in'

Charities have a right to question how their money is being used by the companies they invest in, the chief executive of charity investment management firm CCLA has insisted.

Michael Quicke made the comments in response to an opinion piece printed in the Financial Times, in which Terry Smith, who is chairman of international financial services firm Collins Stewart, accused CCLA of bothering the firm with “annoying” protests on behalf of its investors and complaining “year after year” about the its refusal to cap staff salaries.

However, Quicke insisted that he is committed to looking after the interests of charity clients. “That does not make us tree-hugging anti-capitalists,” he said. “It’s very, very important that people like us are able to challenge a company’s management about the way that they’re running the business. The shareholders are taking all the investment risk so they should have a say in how the management is renumerated.”

Smith also used the opinion slot as an opportunity to attack the obligation for companies to be aware of their effect on the environment.

“If there is one thing more annoying than this focus on uncapped pay, it is the insistence on getting companies to produce a litany of platitudes on environmental and social matters,” he wrote. “Most directors find running a business difficult enough without having to pay lip service to this tosh.”

Quicke responded: “An organisation that flagrantly doesn’t take environmental and social governance into account is ignoring the world that we live in. Modern managers will realise that you have to do this to run a good business.”


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