One of NRCM’s goals has always been to embed our mission of protecting the nature of Maine into the way we operate the organization. For example, several years ago we installed solar panels on the roof of our Augusta office. Now, after a very comprehensive search involving many interviews and 10 different companies offering a variety of investment styles, we have transferred management of our board-directed endowment funds to a New England-based firm, Reynders, McVeigh Capital Management. Reynders, McVeigh is based in Boston, though the manager who will be primarily responsible for our account was raised in Saco.
NRCM has been committed to environmentally and socially responsible investing for many years, but our previous financial manager was unable to commit all of their investments, particularly the fixed income portion of the endowment, to Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) investments. Our new firm has a much more proactive approach that better reflects NRCM’s values. Not only will it invest 100% of the portfolio, regardless of asset class, in ESG investments, it will be more aggressive in supporting or initiating shareholder proposals designed to improve a company’s environmental sensitivity and performance. This is important. We know from our experience that some companies believe profits override any concern with the adverse environmental impact of their operations. That needs to change, and our active participation as a shareholder will help to encourage it.
As an additional benefit, NRCM’s new endowment manager also plans to make some direct investments in local projects that are targeted to benefit the environment as well as smaller businesses and communities throughout New England, but especially in Maine. That, too, should have a beneficial impact. We regard this change as a win for NRCM, a win for the environment, and a win for Maine. Through this change, we hope to improve our endowment performance, thereby increasing the assets we have available to enhance our advocacy efforts and fulfill our important mission. We also hope it will help broaden our advocacy reach and efforts.
Historically, NRCM’s activities have been focused almost exclusively on the public sector—influencing the Legislature, the governor, and various administrative agencies and departments. With this change and the more active shareholder participation that it promises, NRCM hopes to leverage our endowment funds to improve the environmental and social performance of private companies. This multi-pronged approach to our advocacy efforts, involving both the public and the private sectors, may enable us to do even more to protect our planet and improve the environment of Maine that we all cherish.
Bill Meserve, NRCM Board Treasurer
Kathy Hyttel, NRCM Senior Director, Finance & Administration