UN PRI chief Fiona Reynolds to join Quinbrook advisory board

Fiona Reynolds says she will provide advice on what investors ‘want and need’ with regards to sustainability following eight years at PRI.

Fiona Reynolds Quinbrook
After eight years as head of PRI, Reynolds will return to Australia and assume her advisory role at Quinbrook in early 2022.

Fiona Reynolds, chief executive of the Principles for Responsible Investment, is set to join the advisory board of Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners.

Reynolds will start the role in early 2022 upon returning to her native Australia, where she will also take up a full-time position as chief executive of superannuation think-tank Conexus after leaving her role at the PRI.

Speaking exclusively to Infrastructure Investor, Reynolds said that her role would see her give advice to Quinbrook on what investors “want and need” with regards to sustainability and impact investments, leaning on her experience at the PRI.

“Our signatories [at the PRI] tell us that climate change is their number one risk, but also the number one issue that they can see opportunities for,” she said.

“If you’re going to get to net-zero emissions, you can’t just invest as normal, it’s not business as usual. I think there’s too much of the thinking that it can just be business as usual, and that engaging with companies in your portfolio will get you to net-zero.

“Engagement and voting are extremely important levers that investors have and need to be used to their fullest – but we’re only going to get to net-zero if we actually invest in solutions.”

“There are some [impactful] investments being made by Australian funds, but there is not enough of it and there should be more.”

Reynolds said there was a large opportunity to get more Australian superfunds to look at impact investments in real assets in a more serious way.

“Australian superfunds are obviously heavily invested in infrastructure, but when it comes to real assets solutions that are driving emissions reductions they are, in my view, under-allocated. There are some [impactful] investments being made by Australian funds, but there is not enough of it and there should be more.”

In some cases, she said, superfunds had proved reluctant to act because of the “lack of certainty of policy and direction from the Australian government” on emissions reduction.

“That does now seem to be moving in the right direction after decades of obstruction from various quarters, and different governments that have come and gone.”

When asked whether private markets investments were the best route for investors to enact change, Reynolds said that conversations between investors and fund managers had become more detailed during her time in charge of the PRI and that LPs “expect more” from GPs now.

“In some ways, I think you can have more say in private markets, depending on what your investments are and who you’re investing with,” she said.

Reynolds joined the PRI in 2013 when it had 1,000 signatories and leaves the organisation with it having substantially grown to more than 4,000. Prior to joining the PRI she was chief executive of the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees.

Reynolds will also become an independent board director at Australian asset consultant Frontier Advisors in 2022.

Quinbrook’s advisory board is chaired by Mark Fulton, the founder of consultancy Energy Transition Advisors. The board’s other members are Dawn Turner, former CEO of the Brunel Pension Partnership, and Kurt Akers, founder of Tangible Assets Advisory Group and a former senior member of the investment team at Washington State Investment Board.

Earlier this year, the firm appointed former BlackRock managing director Brian Chase to lead a new capital formation unit, in preparation for a “significant expansion” of its investment strategies.

Quinbrook announced last week that it had acquired Project Fortress, a scheme to build the UK’s largest single-site solar PV installation, with battery storage.