Wespath Investment Management is a division of Wespath Benefits and Investments, a general agency of The United Methodist Church (UMC). With approximately $20 billion in assets under management, Wespath is recognized as the largest faith-based benefit plans administrator and pension fund/investment asset manager, and is among the top 100 pension fund managers (based on assets under management) in the U.S. In operation since 1908, this financial services institution has served individuals and UMC-affiliated organizations with the administration of pension plans and the management of pension plan assets.
Wespath provides non-profit institutions access to well-managed investment programs that have historically delivered competitive performance while honoring United Methodist Social Principles. The name Wespath was chosen to honor John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, and a leader in establishing social principles which outline the tenets of sustainable investing. Our name reflects this Wesleyan heritage, and the idea of putting clients on the right path to financial growth with a commitment to values-driven investing.
In 2006, the United Nations invited us to co-author its Principles for Responsible Investment. Upon completion, we were the only faith-based institution to be invited as a founding signatory in recognition of our global leadership in sustainable investment practices focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors.
Wespath actively engages the management of companies in which it invests to ensure performance across a spectrum from financial and operational factors to responsible behavior, particularly where ESG issues are concerned. It also applies traditional exclusions, eliminating certain companies from its portfolio. Wespath incorporates the following in its investment management practices:
- ESG Analysis — focusing on the factors central to measuring the sustainability and ethical impact of investing in a company or business. ESG seeks to identify companies with greater potential for investment growth based on lower risk and higher quality management. As a thought leader in ESG analysis, Wespath seeks to define and raise its standards of responsible investing by partnering with leading international organizations such as the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) and the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment.
- Advocacy and Engagement — advocating for environmental stewardship, human and workers’ rights, access to health care and sound corporate governance in accord with social principles and The United Methodist Church’s Book of Resolutions. Advocacy is an interpersonal effort that evolves through company meetings, discussions with executives, letter writing, filing of shareholder resolutions and actively voting the proxies of almost 3,000 companies annually.
- Exclusions — excluding all investments according to policies adopted by Wespath’s board of directors, consistent with the Social Principles of the UMC. These policies exclude investments in companies earning significant revenues from gambling or from the manufacture, sale or distribution of alcoholic beverages, tobacco-related products, adult entertainment, weapons, or the management or operation of prison facilities.
- Positive Social Purpose Lending — promoting affordable housing, community development and expanded loan opportunities in poor, under-served communities. This 25-year old program has loaned approximately $1.9 billion for projects around the world. These investments support affordable housing and community facilities for low-income families as well as microfinance-loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries.