From fiduciary duties to fiduciary relationships for SRI

responding to the will of beneficiaries

Benjamin J. Richardson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

This chapter examines whether socially responsible investing (SRI) may be legally permissible if it fulfils the will of the beneficiaries in a fiduciary relationship, and considers potential legal reforms to give better effect to the interests of beneficiaries. It thus examines a relatively neglected aspect of fiduciary finance, which so far has focused on whether SRI is “financially material” to investment performance. It argues that by reframing fiduciary finance as an active relationship rather than merely the mechanical application of legal duties, we may allow trustees to invest socially pursuant to the wishes of beneficiaries. However, this chapter also suggests that considerable legal and practical obstacles confront this path to SRI. They include the trustees’ duty to treat different beneficiaries even-handedly and the traditionally passive role that trust law has cast beneficiaries. Reliance on widely-held social customs and evaluation of third parties’ interests as a proxy for the will of beneficiaries, and the role of statutory reforms mandating consultation with and representation of beneficiaries on the governing boards of trustees, are also considered in this chapter. It concludes by suggesting some potential legal reforms to strengthen reliance on the will of beneficiaries as a means of SRI.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Next Generation of Responsible Investing
EditorsTessa Hebb
Place of PublicationDordrecht
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
Pages61-82
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9789400723481
ISBN (Print)9789400723474
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAdvances in Business Ethics Research

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  • Cite this

    Richardson, B. J. (2012). From fiduciary duties to fiduciary relationships for SRI: responding to the will of beneficiaries. In T. Hebb (Ed.), The Next Generation of Responsible Investing (pp. 61-82). (Advances in Business Ethics Research). Dordrecht: Springer, Springer Nature. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-2348-1_5