Edinburgh-based asset management giant Standard Life Aberdeen has pulled out of the next World Economic Forum for the elites of global finance in Davos, Switzerland, next January — saying it must instead spend its resources “in the most impactful way” amid the coronavirus crisis.
Standard Life Aberdeen has been spending up to £3 million a year to send a team of executives to Davos.
In a statement, Standard Life Aberdeen CEO Keith Skeoch said the money that would have been spent sending a delegation to Davos will instead “be directed to high impact community projects to provide relief to people most in need.”
The money will now be used to “help fund deep cleaning of care homes, dementia support lines, food banks, ventilator funding, taxis for medical staff and many, many other initiatives.”
Skeoch is also chair of the board at the UK’s Investment Association (IA). The IA has about 250 members that oversee about £7.7 trillion of assets.
Skeoch’s full statement read: “It is very apparent that we are heading into a significant global recession, that will create real hardship in our communities.
“In these times we have to spend our resources in the most impactful way.
“We have decided to withdraw from the World Economic Forum (WEF) next year.
“WEF has done a lot of good over the years, but I believe we should focus our efforts and resources closer to home in the locations where we operate around the world.
“The money will be directed to high impact community projects to provide relief to people most in need.
“I am proud of the work we are doing here for all of our stakeholders; colleagues, clients and customers, shareholders and communities.
“We are acutely aware that successful businesses will play a fundamental role in driving economic recovery and this is particularly true for important and large investors like Standard Life Aberdeen.
“The choices we make as an investor of scale and a leader in environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles are very important and they must reflect the very changed expectations of the societies that we operate in.”
Skeoch expanded on his firm’s decision in an interview with Ruth Sunderland in London’s Daily Mail newspaper, saying: “When people are struggling and unemployment is soaring, the very idea of a global elite meeting in a Swiss ski resort is divisive – at a time when we need unity of purpose …
“The money can be better spent …
“One very clear trend coming out of this pandemic is what I call ‘localism’ – local communities, local action, local support.
“This localism needs to be enabled and supported by business, so we are redirecting resource to gear up our community programme.
“This means we can help fund deep cleaning of care homes, dementia support lines, food banks, ventilator funding, taxis for medical staff and many, many other initiatives.”