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A client message from Jose Minaya, Chief Executive Officer, Nuveen
Back in December, the Washington Post invited its readers to describe the year 2020 in one word. Not surprisingly, “chaotic” and “lost” were right at the top of the list. But the response that resonated most with me was “transformative.”
Certainly COVID-19 has transformed the way we live and work, and I could not be more proud of my colleagues at Nuveen for the way they’ve stayed connected, rowing together and delivering outstanding results for clients. But the events of 2020, from the pandemic and social unrest to storms and wildfires too numerous to count, have also transformed our understanding of the role that business can play in our society. Not since World War II have companies contributed so much to mitigating the effects of simultaneous global crises, and it reinforced my belief that firms with a purpose beyond just making money are those who will create the most enduring impact on our world.
Personally, perhaps the biggest transformation I experienced last year was in how I think about my role as CEO. The portfolios and performance that rightfully demand my daily attention are still the top priority for me and this firm. But as a leader, I was constantly reminded of the unique opportunity to speak up and drive change on some of the biggest challenges facing the world today. So along with growing our assets under management to more than $1.3 trillion, we offered to transform industrial properties we own into temporary hospitals and testing centers to combat COVID-19. While enhancing our client experience capabilities, we converted the passion and energy of our associates around the issue of equality into the creation of a council to accelerate our inclusion and diversity initiatives around the world. And as we expanded our investment platform, our teams were encouraged to have deeper conversations both internally and externally about the environmental, social and governance issues that were magnified by the events of 2020. By transforming the way we engage with the world around us, we’re better able to fulfill our responsibilities and leverage opportunities to become the investment manager, employer and neighbor we want to be.
Who we are…
The unique set of challenges we were presented with last year reinforced the approach I’ve tried to take with managing this firm: that any path forward has to begin by looking inward and staying true to who we are and what we stand for.
Who we are is a diverse global private asset management firm, seeking alpha for our clients while backed by the financial strength and scale of our parent company, TIAA. From $535 billion in defined contribution assets, to $23 billion in real assets under management and 1,700 real estate investments across the globe, we are, among many things, both a top 5 manager of U.S. institutional tax-exempt assets and the world’s largest manager of farmland.
…And what we stand for
What we stand for is investing to create an enduring impact on the world. Helping our clients and the people they serve meet their long-term financial goals will always be our top priority, but we create impact through engagement. We engage with clients, meeting their increasing demand for responsible investing by reaching our goal of integrating financially relevant ESG factors into 100% of our assets. We engage with corporate boards, voting at more than 12,000 meetings in 2019-20. We engage with communities, investing directly in them through the Nuveen Impact Grant program which launched last March. And we engage with our associates, making systemic changes to how we incorporate inclusion and diversity to make our workplace better.
Already in 2021, that engagement has helped us further expand our capabilities by acquiring Glennmont Partners and Greenworks Lending, two leading companies in the renewable energy investment space. But engagement is more than just how we grow our business or create an enduring impact. It’s how we meet our responsibility to help clients diversify their portfolios and sources of returns to deliver better investment performance.
That responsibility is not new. It’s based on the same principles that guided John Nuveen when he founded this firm more than 120 years ago, and those of Andrew Carnegie when he started TIAA a century ago. What is new is the level of transparency that clients demand today in pursuit of that responsibility. And as we look ahead, I know that our future success will be tied directly to transparency and being crystal clear about who we are as a firm and what we stand for.
So moving forward, rest assured that my colleagues and I will remain transparent about our investment results and the other increasingly important aspects of how we execute our business strategy. From putting more rigor behind the data and analyses that inform our investment decisions, to ensuring that our hiring, retention and promotion practices help us put the best array of ideas on the table, we invite you to engage in dialogue with us on these and any other topics you feel will make us a better partner in your success.
In the year ahead this will help us do more, and invest more, to deliver long-term results and create an enduring impact on the world. And through it all, we will remain true to who we are, and what we stand for. This is my commitment, and that of our entire firm, and we thank you for your continued trust and partnership in that pursuit.