The Intesa Sanpaolo Group’s product offering is completed by the ethical funds made available by Eurizon Capital SGR, the company specialising in asset management for retail and institutional customers, and by Banca Fideuram whose operations target high profile customers.
The ethical funds are mutual funds which invest in the financial instruments of issuers (companies, supranational organisations and governments) with a high social and environmental profile.
THE “ETHICS SYSTEM” OF EURIZON CAPITAL
Since 1997 Eurizon Capital SGR has been the leading operator in Italy offering ethical funds that envisage clear, well-defined positive and negative selection criteria of the securities to be included in its portfolio (listed in the Prospectus and the Fund Management Regulations), a Sustainability Committee (external to and independent from the SGR) and the donation of revenues. The experience gained in managing these products has led to managers’ fine-tuning their selection criteria over the years and, in 2002, adopting ethical benchmarks in order to provide objective financial measurement of the results.
Eurizon Capital’s range of ethical funds is now made up of an equity fund and two bond funds, all Italian. These products have the aim of gradually increasing the value of capital subscribed by implementing an investment policy based on strict ethical principles. All the products form part of the “Ethics System” and envisage the donation of revenues.
Investments in ethical funds are selected on the basis of positive criteria (inclusive principle) to identify the presence of good social and environmental governance in companies or institutions under analysis and negative (exclusive principle) for those areas of activity that are considered to be in contrast with the ethical principles asserted by the funds. The “best in class” principle is also used to identify companies that, in certain markets at risk, stand out for their social-environmental initiatives. Environmental screening is entirely subject to the “best in class” principle given that all major listed companies have a notable impact on the environment, and this principle facilitates the selection of the most “virtuous” securities.
During 2015, the application of these criteria led to a change in the investable universe, and consequently the inclusion or exclusion of certain issuing bodies from the fund portfolio. The reasons for inclusion include programmes to reduce greenhouse gases, the protection of biodiversity, the use of clean technologies, the involvement of suppliers and protection of minorities in the workforce. The reasons for exclusion include involvement in the arms sector, the breach of anti-trust rules, accounting fraud and discrimination in the granting of loans. Exclusions for 2015 regarded companies involved in environmental issues (Volkswagen) and disputes on labour law, human rights and social aspects (Rio Tinto, Goldcorp, Barrick Gold)
In 2015 Eurizon Capital supported its own institutional customers through the management of assets with environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria, providing assistance in choosing among the available solutions and according to the expectations, needs and awareness of these issues of each customer. Eurizon manages 6 institutional mandates with various ESG approaches.
FONDITALIA ETHICAL INVESTMENT
Fonditalia Ethical Investment is the new socially responsible investment solution of the Fideuram Group which integrates income objectives with financial sustainability and social value aspects. The sub-fund invests in the bonds of those States that stand out for the special focus on social and environmental issues, in bonds issued by Supranational Bodies in favour of developing economies and in funds specialised in microfinance, fair trade funds, equity funds and shares with a positive impact at social and/or environmental level.
An Ethics Committee composed of managerial and other professionals with proven experience in social, economic, environmental and financial sustainability, including qualified academic professionals, is tasked with verifying consistency between the actual fund portfolio composition and the ethical principles characterising the same, thereby formulating, where applicable, its own opinions on the ethics of investments.
A further element characterising the ethics behind the sub-fund is given by its commitment to supporting scientific research, through the placement of share units and through the donation in favour of the AISM and its Foundation (FISM), the amount of which is proportional to the fund fees. The sub-fund assets as at 31/12/2015 amounted to 32.3 million euro.
ADOPTION OF INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS
Eurizon Capital strengthens its active investor role responsible towards the companies in its portfolio, by developing a structured and dedicated monitoring of corporate governance activities. Therefore, the company proves to be particularly attentive to the policies implemented by the issuers in which it invests, in the belief that the adoption of sound and efficient corporate governance practices, incorporating environmental, social and governance issues, encourages the creation of value for shareholders in the long term. The commitment on these issues has been confirmed with the adoption of the Stewardship Principles, to which Eurizon Capital was one of the first signatories in Italy. The Italian Stewardship Principles for the exercise of management and voting rights in listed companies, were defined by Assogestioni, in line with those contained in the "Code for External Governance", approved by the European Fund and Asset Management Association (EFAMA), which lead to assume the role of responsible active investors. As a signatory to the Stewardship Principles, Eurizon Capital promotes continuous and pro-active interaction with the companies in which it invests. Moreover, it was the first asset management company in Italy to define a structured process for the implementation of these principles, in particular with the implementation of the "Strategy for exercising voting rights linked to financial instruments within managed UCIs " aimed at ensuring that these rights are exercised in the exclusive interest of UCI investors. The adoption of this strategy provides for constant monitoring of relevant corporate events attached to the securities in the portfolio and a targeted approach to the dialogue on a regular basis on governance issues with companies in which the asset management company invests, fostering active participation in the shareholders’ meetings. In this context, Eurizon Capital is acting through the exercise of voting rights by intervening in the meetings of the companies which it deems most "relevant" for their importance within the portfolio and for the effects that the quality of their corporate governance has on the system. The company exercises its voting rights with utmost transparency, in the interest of the portfolio subscribers and of market integrity, while maintaining a strong focus on limiting the potential conflicts of interest.
Eurizon Capital remains committed to pursuing a Socially Responsible management activity, also with the signing of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). The company, as co-Chair of the European Task Force (former co-Chair of the Investment Commission and Treasurer) of UNEP FI, has contributed to the formulation of these guidelines by participating in the round tables since their launch in 2005. UNEP-FI is a network of international investors working in collaboration with the UN to share a set of principles inspired by the understanding of the mechanisms of sustainability of the investments through attention to environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors and their integration in the investment process. Eurizon Capital, upon delegation by Intesa Sanpaolo, has been actively participating in the UNEP FI activities since 2002.
The Intesa Sanpaolo Group Pension Fund has also adopted the Principles for Responsible Investments for more effective action, and has become a member of the CDP, the international non-profit organisation that promotes the reduction of greenhouse gases and the improved management of water resources.
SHARE OWNERSHIP ACTIVITIES AND ADOPTION OF INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS
Share ownership targets large institutional investors that request them. This activity translates mainly into soft engagement practices involving direct communication with the management boards of investee companies, posing questions and notes on topics of particular interest on social, environmental and corporate governance issues.
The Intesa Sanpaolo Group Pension Fund - one of the primary pension funds of Intesa Sanpaolo personnel - is the first in Italy to adopt a share ownership strategy, interacting directly with a number of large companies included in the portfolio. The dialogue focused on the chain of suppliers and allowed assessment of the companies’ conduct and recommendations of improvement measures.
The Fund’s equity and corporate portfolio in 2015 included 459 issuers. The engagement initiatives undertaken were 9, covering approximately 2% of the number of companies and 6% of the portfolio value.
Since 2015, in order to give greater visibility to soft engagement activities, the Fund has decided to also exercise voting rights in relation to some pilot companies, making its own choices public through appropriate communications aimed at explaining voting decisions. In particular, the Fund has intervened, through providers specialising in proxy voting, in the general meetings of Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, focusing on the information technology giants’ sector.
Eurizon Capital’s share ownership activities launched at the end of 2015 (in addition to those carried out on behalf of institutional clients), have been carried out as follows:
- 4 companies by voting at the meeting
- 2 collective engagements (through Assogestioni)
- 1 collective engagement
- 2 direct meetings