The fifth annual Responsible Investor Reporting Awards were announced at a special dinner event during this year’s 10th anniversary RI Europe conference. This year, I again had the pleasure and privilege of serving as one of the judges. (Sadly, conflicting responsibilities kept me from being able to attend the event.)
The awards recognize both asset owners and asset managers for quality, transparency and best practice in reporting to their stakeholders on their responsible investing strategies and results. These firms are promoting the practice of sustainable investing worldwide to an even larger audience. They deserve to be recognized for their efforts. The best should be exemplars for their peers, but also for the companies and industries in which they invest.
It’s no secret that we as investment professionals are harshly – and often deservedly – critical of the quality of corporate sustainability reports. Greenwashing and self-promotion are common complaints, but the most significant shortcomings are about the quality, materiality and comparability of the disclosure information. That’s not entirely the fault of companies – this is a challenging and developing practice. That said, it’s only fair that investment managers and asset owners should be asked to set high standards themselves. This competition and these awards encourage that.
You can see the summary of winners and commended nominees here. I encourage readers to look not just at the list of winners, but take also the time to explore one or two of the reports themselves. There is great work being done across the board. A concern often expressed about reporting – by companies as well as investment firms – is the perceived effort and resources required. In that light, I would like to call attention to a specific category I judged this year – small & medium asset managers. I was again impressed by the thoughtful and effective work being done by the nominated firms.
As an example, here are the judges’ comments on the winning report from Singapore’s Arisaig Partners, a firm investing in a challenging space – consumer staples businesses in emerging markets:
Demonstrates a focused approach to their portfolio (consumer staples businesses in emerging markets) coupled with a thoughtful assessment of the material ESG issues involved. Effective use of value drivers of sustainability approach to make the connection between financial performance and sustainability. Good selection of focus issues to discuss (executive remuneration in multinationals and carbon impact of portfolio companies). Well-laid out portfolio company examples. Tackles the challenges of ESG in difficult markets and the sustainable impact of successfully meeting these challenges.
I hope that many investment professionals – and the firms they work for – find inspiration and examples in what the firms recognized with RI Reporting awards have done. Quality reporting that adds value and effectively supports sustainable investment can be done – and not just by the biggest institutions.
- ↑ Awards are given to both large (>$25 billion AUM) and small/medium (<$25 billion AUM) institutions in both the asset mannger and asset owner category.