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An overview of responsible investing and integration of environmental, social and governance factors Sam Collin EIRIS Foundation PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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An overview of responsible investing and integration of environmental, social and governance factors Sam Collin EIRIS Foundation. Overview of responsible investment Responsible investment is part of the mainstream

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An overview of responsible investing and integration of environmental, social and governance factors

Sam Collin

EIRIS Foundation

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Overview of responsible investment

  • Responsible investment is part of the mainstream

  • Environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors can be financially relevant. There is growing evidence that ESG issues can safeguard and create value

  • Trustees have a fiduciary duty to consider environmental, social and governance factors in their investments

  • There are a number of steps that trusts and foundations should be taking to ensure they are mitigating ESG risks and taking advantage of ESG opportunities

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What is responsible investment?

  • The incorporation of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into investment decisions and ownership

  • Responsible investment is based on creating value, mitigating ESG risks and taking advantage of ESG opportunities

  • ESG factors can influence investment decisions and voting and engagement practices

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What is the role of the EIRIS Foundation?

  • A charity that supports responsible investment

  • Established in 1983 as a collaborative research venture by a group of churches and charities that needed to put their own principles into practice

  • The EIRIS Foundation Charity Project works to raise awareness and understanding of responsible investment amongst charities through education, research and the provision of resources

  • EIRIS Ltd is the Foundation’s subsidiary – it helps to deliver the charitable aims and provides information services to investors

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Learning from the credit crunch

  • Excessive short-termism, coupled with a lack of accountability both within financial institutions and between management and shareholders, is at the heart of the problem (ACCA)

  • Investment professionals are too reliant on normal channels of information, such as company reporting and are failing to capture all the available relevant ‘submerged’ information (Marathon Club)

  • Shareholders should be holding companies to account (Newton)

  • Long-term investing - growing recognition that emphasising short-term outcomes can be detrimental to the pursuit of long-term performance goals (Watson Wyatt)

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Responsible investment is part of the mainstream

  • In 2007 one in nine investment dollars run by fund managers or institutional investors in the US was managed following socially responsible principles.

  • In Europe at the end of 2007 the SRI market was estimated to represent €2.7 trillion in assets

  • The UN Principles for Responsible Investment encourages investors to integrate ESG factors into investment and become active shareholders. It comprises over 470 asset owners and managers representing assets of $18 trillion an indicator of the growing recognition of responsible investment as a value driver

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ESG factors can impact financial performance

  • A focus on ESG issues can enhance understanding of how companies are likely to adapt, excel or suffer in a changing context

  • The inclusion of ESG factors in investment analysis can help to mitigate risks and take advantage of opportunities

  • Sustainability themed funds can provide opportunities for diversification

  • ESG integration can be seen as an insurance approach, which safeguards returns which would otherwise have been forfeited

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Financial performance – expert views & studies

  • UNEP FI Asset Management Working Group commissioned a study based on 12 broker research reports and more than 1,000 pages of financial analysis. It concludes:

    • ESG issues are material – there is robust evidence that ESG issues affect shareholder value in both the short and long term.

    • The impact of ESG issues on share price can be valued and quantified

  • The Who Cares Wins initiative, endorsed by financial institutions representing more than $6 trillion in assets,. ‘It is today a commonly-accepted fact that ESG issues can have a financial impact on single companies or entire sectors.’

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Financial performance – expert views & studies

  • Cary Krosinsky’s US study: ‘sustainable investing funds have significantly outperformed mainstream indices, returning +18.7% on average over the last five years, versus the MSCI World, S&P 500 and FTSE 100's returns of +17.0%, +13.2% and +13.0% respectively. Similar outpeformance was seen over one- and three-year periods as well.’

  • UNEP FI and Mercer reviewed academic and broker research on the relationship between ESG factors and portfolio performance. Of 20 academic studies, it found evidence of a positive relationship in half of these, with seven reporting a neutral effect and three a negative association. The negative links were found in studies of screened portfolios rather than studies of ESG integration.

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Responsible investment has a clear fit with fiduciary duty

  • Trustees are required to invest to further the purposes of the charity. This is usually seen as being achieved by seeking the best return from investments at an acceptable level of risk

  • Trustees have a duty to consider the suitability and diversification of investments, and for charities with permanent endowments, this includes a balance between the interests of present and future beneficiaries (Trustee Act 2000)

  • The Charity Commission permits trustees to make investment decisions on moral grounds, provided that they are clear this will not put their charity at risk of significant financial detriment

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What are the legal implications?

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer UNEP FI study:

  • ‘It may be a breach of fiduciary duties to fail to take account of ESG considerations that are relevant and to give them appropriate weight, bearing in mind that some important economic analysts and leading financial institutions are satisfied that a strong link between good ESG performance and good financial performance exists.'

  • ‘We think there is a strong argument that there will be a class of investments that could reasonably be assumed offensive to the average beneficiary such that they could lawfully be excluded from an investment portfolio without all the beneficiaries’ express consent.’

  • 'Fiduciary duties evolve over time according to changes in social norms and the values of society and, to a degree, technological and market changes.’

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Which ESG issues?

  • The most financially-relevant ESG factors can arise from the actions and reactions of regulators, consumers, suppliers, employees and financial markets

  • Trustees do not have to become experts in an array of ESG concerns. Rather, they should ensure that asset managers have such expertise.

  • Trustees can benefit from the skills and techniques employed by a growing group of mainstream asset managers and owners that integrate ESG issues

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What can you do?

  • Visit

  • Agree your position on responsible investment

  • Research your investment manager’s expertise and practice in ESG integration

  • Include ESG integration in your investment mandate

  • Join collaborative initiatives, such as the Carbon Disclosure Project

  • Vote your shares on ESG related issues

  • Engage with companies directly or via investment managers

  • Invest in sustainability-themed funds e.g. greentech, microfinance or timber

  • Invest in responsible investment funds that use ESG integration

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Sam Collin

EIRIS Foundation

[email protected]

020 7840 5738

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