Savings and retirement business Phoenix Group announced today the appointment of Michael Eakins as Chief Investment Officer. Eakins is currently CIO at ReAssure Group plc. Phoenix Group announced the  £3.2 billion acquisition of ReAssure in December 2019, and today’s announcement is subject to the successful completion of the transaction.

The CIO position is a newly created one for Phoenix. Upon completion of the ReAssure acquisition, the combined entity will have assets under administration of £330 billion, and has undertaken the creation of a dedicated investment team. Led by Mr. Eakins, the new team will be responsible for the investment strategy for all shareholder and policyholder assets, working in conjunction with investment partners.

Phoenix has announced that its new investment team will take a proactive approach to responsible investing, embedding ESG considerations in the investment decision-making process, stating that this is a key pillar of the firm’s sustainability strategy.

Phoenix has already been active in sourcing investment opportunities in assets which have a positive social benefit in areas such as social housing, education, infrastructure and local authority loans, with recent investments in socially beneficial assets including £70m in lending to UK Local Authorities, £145m to Housing Associations and £30m to a renewable energy project. Phoenix has also made a £90m investment in the Islamic Development Bank enabling sustainable development projects outside the UK.

Prior to joining ReAssure as CIO in 2019, Eakins was a managing director at Goldman Sachs, serving as Head of European Pension & Insurance and UK Rate Sales, FICC. Before joining Goldman, he was an Actuarial Consultant at EY.

Commenting on today’s appointment, Andy Briggs, CEO of Phoenix Group said:

“Under Michael’s leadership the team is going to step up its activities, not least because we recognise that direct investment is an important mechanism to support the economy following the Covid-19 lockdown. With our investment partners, we are actively looking for opportunities to support important projects to provide long term funding to social housing, education, infrastructure and local authorities which have faced funding challenges during the pandemic.”

Eakins commented:

“Phoenix Group is already committed to having a positive impact on both environmental and social considerations through its investments, and to aligning its investment portfolio with the evolving beliefs of its customers. I’m very much looking forward to taking on this new role and leading a team of investment professionals at Phoenix Group at this crucial time for the UK, where the positive impact and sustainability of future investments over the long-term has become even more important.”