EVOLVING EDENTREE'S APPROACH
For over 30 years, EdenTree have been pioneers and thought leaders in the ethical and responsible investment space. We have always prided ourselves on providing long-term ‘profits with principles’ across our range of Amity retail and charity funds. However, we know the market is evolving fast and that clients are seeking more from their fund managers, particularly in the area of sustainability, and how this is taken into account in stock selection. This Expert Briefing sets out how our thinking and the Amity process is evolving.
The four core elements of our responsible investment offering to clients remains unchanged. We integrate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) risk factors across our investment process to deliver superior returns. Clients receive as part of this integrated approach, screening, proxy voting, engagement and thought leadership research.
RESPONSIBLE AND SUSTAINABLE
As we develop and evolve our process and approach we define what we do as ‘Responsible and Sustainable Investment’.
Responsible, because we remain committed to the highest standards of business behaviour in stock selection, and sustainable because many of the companies we invest in are at the cutting edge of providing solutions to some of the world’s most pressing socio-economic challenges.
Our eight negative screens aim to 'avoid harm', and these remain unchanged and focused on core ethical values: Alcohol Production, Gambling, Pornography & Violent Material Tobacco Production, Weapons, Animal Testing (for beauty, cosmetic and household products), Intensive Farming and Oppressive Regimes.
Our existing nine positive pillars have been re-calibrated. Six material ESG (environment, social and governance) risks reflect our continuing commitment to responsible investment. These core criteria remain unchanged – Business Ethics, Community, Corporate Governance, Employment & Labour, Environment and Human Rights.
Joining our existing three positive investment themes, we are adding a fourth: Sustainability. As we screen investment ideas, we will consider the positive sustainability case, how companies are referencing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of their business case, and how the company is contributing to the realisation of the Goals and their underlying targets.
We are making no changes to two of our thematic pillars – Education and Health & Wellbeing. The other theme – ‘Urban Regeneration’ – is now re-modelled to become ‘Social Infrastructure’ to reflect a broader category of sustainability themes across the infrastructure sector.
For stocks to earn their place in our Amity portfolios they must first pass the Ethics/Values screen, and meet our Responsibility/ESG standards. As before, thematic investment remains a discretionary part of our stock picking approach by Fund Managers, but each company we screen will have the sustainability positives (and negatives) clearly set out.
Our revised model will therefore screen across three elements: Ethics/Values; Responsibility/ESG and Thematic/Sustainability.
INFORMED PROXY VOTING
The other elements of our responsible &
sustainable investment offer to clients remain unchanged. We exercise informed shareholder proxy voting in
all markets in which we invest. Our UK and overseas voting policies are reviewed and revised annually and are available on the EdenTree website.
We engage regularly with prospective and held investments.
This is undertaken across our portfolios and is risk related. We may need to
engage with management prior to investing, where we have identified potential
risks that need clarification, or we may engage in response to negative news-flow.
We provide ourselves on the frequency and quality of our thought leadership which put clients at the heart of our thinking. Our flagship Amity Insights - now in their 10th year - provide detailed thematic research on core responsible and sustainable investment issues, including 'Sustainable Cities' 'Cyber Security', 'Natural Capital', 'Education' and 'Waste'.