oikos PRI Young Scholars Finance Academy 2015

in collaboration with The Henley Centre for

Governance, Accountability and Responsible Investment (GARI)

“Responsible Investing – Barriers, Incentives and Building Blocks”

May 31 – June 4, 2015

Reading, UK

oikos and the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) convened the fifth oikos PRI Young Scholars Finance Academy in collaboration with The Henley Centre for Governance, Accountability and Responsible Investment (GARI) from May 31 to June 4, 2015, in Reading, United Kingdom.

The academy provided a platform for exceptional PhD and post-doctoral students in the field of finance and sustainability to advance their research and expand their international research relations. Participants benefited from presenting and discussing their work in progress with leading academics and professionals who provided feedback and shared advice about academic career and personal development. The event also included a practitioners day, guest speeches and recreational outdoor excursions.

Project partners:

PRI     Henley


Responsible Investing – Barriers, Incentives and Building Blocks

Long-term investment considering environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors has been on the radar screen of financial markets for many years. Assets in ESG-driven portfolios have grown significantly and, according to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance reached 13.6 trillion US Dollars in 2012. At the same time, many private and institutional investors as well as asset managers have not yet embraced the concept of ESG integration. What are the barriers that keep them from moving in this direction? How could incentives be changed to increase the momentum? And what are the building blocks that drive market expansion?

To answer these and further questions, the academy was open to papers on all stages of the responsible investment process, including, but not limited to the following topics:

1)    Corporate governance and incentives for responsible investment

2)    The role of company reporting for responsible investment

3)    ESG integration in the portfolio construction

4)    Institutional investors and shareholder engagement

5)    The role of beneficiaries and intermediaries in the investment process


The faculty of the 2015 academy included:

Jill Atkins, Professor, Henley Business School

Jill Atkins is Professor of Accounting and Financial Management at Henley Business School, University of Reading. Her primary research interests within the overarching area of corporate governance include institutional investor engagement and dialogue, responsible investment, stakeholder accountability, integrated reporting, pension fund governance and sustainability issues in accounting and finance.

Bert Scholtens, Professor, University of Groningen

Bert Scholtens is Professor of Economics of Sustainability at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands and Professor of Finance at the School of Management of the University of Saint Andrews, UK. His research interests focus on banking, finance, investment, sustainability, responsibility, and energy. He taught on a wide range of subjects in Economics and Finance and supervised a large number of students.

George Serafeim, Associate Professor, Harvard Business School

George Serafeim is an Associate Professor of Business Administration in the Accounting and Management Unit of Harvard Business School. His research interests focus on equity valuation, corporate governance, and corporate reporting issues. His work on how organizations integrate sustainability issues into their strategy, integrated reporting, and sustainable investing has won numerous awards.


The participants of the 2015 academy

Clarissa Hauptmann - KopieClarissa Hauptmann is a Ph.D. candidate in the Finance Department of Maastricht University, School of Business and Economics. She holds a Master degree in Financial Economics with a specialization in banking, and a Bachelor in Economics. Her research interest is in the field of corporate governance and financial institutions. Currently, she is investigating the relationship between gender diversity of a company’s top management and the sustainability of lending. Next to her research, she has been teaching the courses “Financial Management and Policy”, “Ethics, Organizations, and Society”, and “Finance and Accounting” at Maastricht University. In her free time she enjoys dancing ballet and salsa, reading books, travelling to exotic places, and appreciating good food with friends and family.


Colin Habberton - KopieColin Habberton is a PhD student at the University of Stellenbosch Business School investigating the decision-making dynamics of institutional investors. He holds a Bachelor of Social Science and Master of Philosophy degree and has specialised in the fields of relationship management, loyalty programmes, social finance and social enterprise.  Currently, he is CEO of PayProp Capital, a financial services provider developing insurance and information solutions for the South African residential letting industry, as well as the Director of Global Partnerships for the GivenGain Foundation, Switzerland, an organisation that currently serves more than 1750 non-profit organisations in over 45 countries with a web based fundraising platform. He is a provincial deputy Chairman of Institute of Directors of Southern Africa, and serves on the boards of a number of profit and non-profit organisations.

Kentrou-Desponina-207Despoina Kentrou is a doctoral researcher at the ICMA Centre, University of Reading. Her research focuses on ESG finance and her current project looks into the relationship between socio-political trends and the demand for socially responsible investing. Despoina has a broad background in business studies. She possesses a BA in Marketing and Communication from Athens University of Economics and Business, an MSc in Economic and Business Strategy from the University of Piraeus and an MPhil in Finance from Manchester Business School. Despoina’s past academic research lies in the areas of empirical asset pricing, microstructure and behavioural finance. She has collaborated with finance practitioners for market-based research on ESG strategies and shareholder activism. Despoina has gained work experience in a range of enterprise environments (state owned, family business, start-up and public multinational companies). She set up and ran a business before joining the research community.


Shan_HuaDr Shan Hua joined the Xfi – Centre for Finance and Investment at the University of Exeter Business School as a Research Associate in April 2013. She completed her BSc in China, and obtained her MSc in Financial Mathematics and PhD in Finance from the University of Exeter. She currently works on the ESRC funded project “Cost of Capital and Asset Pricing in the UK”. Her research interests lie in the fields of empirical asset pricing, the value premium and valuation effects of climate change.

Guillermo CasasnovasGuillermo Casasnovas is a doctoral student in Management at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. His research interests are around social entrepreneurship and social finance, and his thesis looks at the development of the social investment market in the UK. Before joining the PhD, he worked at the Corporate Finance division of Deloitte in Barcelona (Spain) and he was lecturer and consultant at the Universidad Centroamericana in Managua (Nicaragua). He also worked at the Institute for Social Innovation at ESADE Business School, coordinating the Momentum Project, which helped social enterprises scale up their impact. He studied the BS and MS in Business Administration at ESADE Business School and he has volunteered in several organizations in Spain, Honduras and Chad.

roudaut_gwenael - KopieGwenaël Roudaut is a PhD Candidate in economics at Ecole Polytechnique (France). He is interested in corporate governance and sustainable issues with a specific focus on board of directors. He has participated in research works of the Sustainable Finance and Responsible Investment Chair (FDIR, Ecole Polytechnique, TSE-IDEI) since 2012. The main objective of his PhD dissertation is to characterize board mechanisms and dynamics from agency and stakeholder perspectives. His current research projects have therefore analyzed the link between director selection, board composition and financial and extra-financial performances through theoretical and quantitative empirical approaches on the French case. He holds a bachelor degree in biology and a master degree in ecology from Ecole Normale Supérieure, and UPMC (Paris), an engineer degree in environment and a master degree in economics of sustainable development from PontsParisTech and AgroParisTech (Paris).


Herwig PilajHerwig Pilaj is a PhD student at the Department of Banking and Finance, University of Graz, Austria. Apart from doing research he also teaches undergraduate courses in banking, finance, and behavioral economics.  In his current research project he analyses sustainable and responsible investment (SRI) from a behavioral economics perspective. The basic idea: more realistic assumptions on human decision making might allow more nuanced explanations of SRI barriers and incentives. He is a big fan of interdisciplinary approaches and out-of-the-box thinking and finds it inspiring to talk to people from other disciplines and backgrounds. In his free time he enjoys reading philosophy books, being teased by his cats, and playing chess.


Photo_Josua_Oll - KopieJosua Oll is a research assistant and Ph.D. student at the Chair of Capital Markets and Management at the University of Hamburg. He holds a B.Sc. in Economics with a major in Finance from Maastricht University, a M.Sc. in Sustainable Development from the University of St Andrews, and a M.A. in Sustainability Management and Economics from the University of Kassel. Josua’s research focus is centered on the underlying motives for sustainable investing. More specifically, he is interested in the question of whether or to what extent investors’ values, i.e. principles or standards of behavior, make a difference in investment decisions. Before joining the University of Hamburg, he gained practical experience at a tax consultancy, the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, and Commerzbank’s Department of Corporate Responsibility. Apart from work, Josua enjoys spending his time on the hockey pitch.


Maximilian_Wimmer - KopieMaximilian Wimmer is a research fellow at Department of Finance, University of Regensburg. He teaches classes in Finance and Risk Management. Maximilian obtained a M.Sc. in Mathematics at Iowa State University, a M.Sc. in Business Mathematics at the University of Augsburg, and a Ph.D. in Finance at the University of Regensburg. His general research interests include multicriteria portfolio selection, socially responsible investing, risk capital allocations, and weather derivatives. Currently, Maximilian is working on the development and application of models that include sustainability as a third criterion besides risk and return in the portfolio selection process. His research has been published in journals such as the Journal of Banking and Finance, European Journal of Operational Research, and Operations Research.


Nicha LapananNicha Lapanan is a PhD student at Umeå School of Business and Economics, Umeå University, Sweden. Her research focuses on responsible investing among individual investors. More specifically, she studies whom among individual investors choose to invest in socially responsible assets (stocks and mutual funds) and what influences them to do so. She uses registry data to study the actual holdings of stocks and mutual funds among individual investors in Sweden. Prior to her doctoral study, she has worked as an audit assistant at KPMG Thailand. She received a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration with a major in Accounting from Thammasat University, Thailand, and a Msc. in Finance from Umea University. Currently, she is also a CFA level 3 candidate. In her spare time, she likes cooking and reading good books.


Li-Qian-235Qian Li is a doctoral researcher at ICMA Centre, University of Reading, UK. She holds a Master’s degree in Banking and Finance from University of Newcastle Upon Tyne in the UK and holds a double bachelor’s degree in law and economics, respectively from Huazhong Normal University and Wuhan University in China. Her areas of interests include environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues, corporate social irresponsibility (CSiR), corporate reputation and responsible investment. Her PhD focuses on the impact of CSiR issues on financial returns of Chinese cross-listed companies. She has received awards including the ICMA Centre teaching assistantship and the 2012 PRI/FIR Research Grants. She has taught bachelor program and training program at University of St Andreas and University of Reading.  In her spare time, Qian enjoys watching movies, cooking, hiking and doing yoga.


pic_Qiaowen ZhangQiaowen Zhang is a lecturer at the School of Economics and Business Management and China-Africa International Business School, Zhejiang Normal University, China, where she completed her Bachelor degree in Accounting and Master degree in Business Management. Currently, Qiaowen is pursuing a PhD degree at the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa. Her thesis focuses on the role of institutional investors in corporate governance in the context of South Africa and China. In addition, she is also an affiliate of the Center for Chinese Studies at Stellenbosch University. Her recent project is related to social responsibility of Chinese investment in Africa. Her research interests include: institutional investors, corporate governance, socially responsible investment, Chinese investment in Africa and financial inclusion.

profile picture-Xiaoyan ZhouXiaoyan Zhou is a PhD student at ICMA Centre, Henley Business School. She obtained M. Litt in Finance and Management with Distinction from University of St Andrews. She started her PhD in Finance in 2012 University of St Andrews under the supervision of Dr. Andreas Hoepner and transferred to ICMA Centre in 2013.  Her research interest is the private ESG institutional shareholder engagement effect on target’s risk and return and the mechanisms underlying this effect.  Xiaoyan Zhou has fully participated in two IPOs on Australian Stock Exchanges and London AIM market respectively during 2004-2007.

Further participants include Anirudh Agrawal and Judy Chalabi. Their bios and photos will be uploaded shortly.

The organizers of the 2015 academy

Chris Biehl - KopieChris Biehl is currently working as a doctoral researcher at the Henley Centre of Governance, Accountability and Responsible Investment, based at the Henley Business School in the United Kingdom. His research focus is responsible investment and corporate governance in Japan. In the past Christoph has worked as Project Manager Asia for the Centre for Responsible Banking and Finance at the University of St Andrews and as a consultant to the UN-supported PRI Academic Network. As part of these two appointments he (co-)organised international conferences and leadership events, e.g. the Asia-Pacific session at the MSCI Global Leadership Forum 2013. Prior to the PhD Christoph has completed a master degree (distinction) at the University of St Andrews and a first class bachelor degree at the University of Bayreuth. He is also alumnus of the scholarship programme of the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation.


Katherine-NG_smallKatherine Ng leads the Academic Research Programme at the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), which aims to engage and inform signatories and responsible investment practitioners with academic research that is thought-provoking, analyses current thinking and future trends, and provides practical recommendations. She managed the Research and Insights programme at ACCA, the global accountancy body, developing, commissioning and communicating impactful and engaging research to stakeholders around the world. She was previously an academic researcher working on European Commission funded projects on science and society, and understands the value of research to inform policy development. Katherine brings a solid background in the academic field with over 10 years’ experience in policy and research. In this capacity, working collaboratively with partners, for example, The Prince of Wales Accounting for Sustainability Project, IIRC, IFAC, ESRC and other UN bodies such as Global Compact the Principles for Responsible Management Education to generate impact among research users.

UZH_Hoernlein_Lena_7709_-®Bruederli - KopieLena Hörnlein is a PhD student at the University of Zurich’s Department for Banking and Finance. In her PhD thesis she analyses policy mechanisms to incentivise investment in a low-carbon energy supply. For oikos she manages the Case Writing Competition, co-organises the Finance Academy and supports the Finance Learning Circle. Lena holds a bachelor degree in Philosophy and Economics from the University of Bayreuth, Germany, and a master degree in Environmental Economics and Climate Change from London School of Economics. She has worked with GIZ, the German development agency, as a climate policy expert at the Tunisian Ministry of the Environment. Lena has completed previous assignments for the German Environment Ministry, the German development bank KfW, the consulting firm Perspectives and the University of Zurich in a research project on the UN climate negotiations.


Yang Stephanie Liu photoYang Stephanie Liu is a doctoral researcher at Henley Business School, University of Reading. She received her bachelor degree from Xi’an Jiaotong University in 2008 in International Accounting and master degree from University of Bath in 2009 in Accounting and Finance. She is ACCA Affiliate. Her primary research interest covers corporate carbon disclosure strategy, corporate social and environmental responsibility, corporate reputation and financial performance.