Anne Simpson to leave CalPERS for Franklin Templeton

Simpson’s hire comes as Franklin Templeton expands its private markets strategy after acquiring Lexington Partners last year.

Franklin Templeton, a US-based investment manager, has hired Anne Simpson away from her post as sustainability chief at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, another sign of growing private-sector demand for leading ESG talent.

Simpson begins her tenure as Franklin Templeton’s new global head of sustainability in February, according to a statement announcing her hire. She will report to the firm’s president and chief executive Jenny Johnson, who described the personnel move as “a hire of prominence” that can take the firm’s sustainable investing strategy “to the next level”.

At CalPERS, Simpson became an ESG leader and sustainability standard-setter for the sustainability, diversity and good governance initiatives she helped implement across the pension’s $500 billion portfolio. For private markets, she instituted a policy that led to all of CalPERS’ private equity managers developing ESG strategies and setting sustainability goals.

She also helped launch Climate Action 100+, a coalition of global investors seeking to pressure polluting companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Simpson also played a leading role in the creation last year of the ESG Data Convergence Project, which brings private equity investors and managers together to track and report a standardised set of six ESG metrics.

At Franklin Templeton, Simpson will build on efforts to formalise sustainable investing policies and best practices. In recent years, the firm, which is based in California, has joined the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures and the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative.

In March, after losing its former global head of ESG, Julie Moret, to Northern Trust Asset Management, Franklin Templeton announced the launch of a sustainability council to oversee the firm’s ESG strategy. The council is led by David Zhan, who leads the firm’s European fixed-income strategy, and David Sheasby, head of stewardship and ESG at the Franklin Templeton-owned Martin Currie, a public equities manager.

Based in California, Franklin Templeton manages $1.5 trillion in assets across investment strategies including public equities, fixed income, multi-asset solutions and alternatives. In November, the firm announced a $1.75 billion acquisition for the private equity firm Lexington Partners, increasing its alternatives portfolio to around $200 million.