Staying true to your values
Many investors are becoming aware that they want to align their investment choices with the future sustainability of the environment. We increasingly believe that incorporating responsible decisions within our investment process is in our client’s best interests. We also believe that sustainable investing can be aligned with sound investment principles. The United Nations describes sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
When ethical investment funds first came out there was simply a screen, which discounted a host of companies that were deemed to be doing things that affected the environment. This binary decision meant that the range of companies that investors could invest in was much smaller and this generally led to under-performance. Over the years investment firms have focused on a sustainable approach, which screens out the worst offenders, and then invests in companies that are showing foresight to work with the new environmental guidelines, whilst still making a profit for the company and shareholders. This allows us to put together sustainably invested portfolios, which also follow our fundamental investment principles.
We want to be at the forefront of thinking in this area and will challenge and support our fund managers to achieve long-term sustainable investment returns.
Assessing and monitoring our portfolio managers
We have created a set of standards for responsible investment and we use these to measure our fund managers. This includes demonstrating how Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and stewardship are integrated into our investment processes.
An integral part of our initial selection and monitoring process is to ensure that all of the firms that we entrust our client’s money with in our sustainable portfolios uphold the highest standards. We believe that a fundamental method of ensuring that our managers align with our goals is to ensure that they have signed up to two key initiatives: the UN Principles of Responsible Investing and the UK Stewardship Code.
The United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) is a set of six principles developed by a network of international investors and reflect the view that the integration of environmental, social and corporate governance issues into investment management can all have a positive impact on investment performance.
We will incorporate environmental, social and governance issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes.
We will be active owners and incorporate esg issues into our ownership policies and practices.
We will seek appropriate disclosure on esg issues by the entities in which we invest.
We will promote acceptance and implementation of the principles within the investment industry.
We will work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the principles.
We will each report on our activities and progress towards implementing the principles.
The UK Stewardship Code consists of seven principles and is aimed at investment managers with the aim of enhancing engagement between manager and investor. Better engagement can ultimately lead to better long-term returns, achieved by efficiently exercising governance responsibilities.
The Principles of the Code
So as to protect and enhance the value that accrues to the ultimate beneficiary, institutional investors should:
1. Publicly disclose their policy on how they will discharge their stewardship responsibilities.
2. Have a robust policy on managing conflicts of interest in relation to stewardship which should be publicly disclosed.
3. Monitor their investee companies.
4. Establish clear guidelines on when and how they will escalate their stewardship activities.
5. Be willing to act collectively with other investors where appropriate.
6. Have a clear policy on voting and disclosure of voting activity.
7. Report periodically on their stewardship and voting activities.
At Callisto, we believe that the needs of our clients are evolving. Our approach to sustainable investing is to work with our clients toward achieving their life planning and financial planning objectives, whilst also offering them the opportunity to invest responsibly.