2020 was a year like no other, with COVID-19 reshaping the way we live, work and invest. As the year began, we were forced to reassess how we interact with each other, how complex systems work together and how nature has more power over us than we normally like to admit.
Our approach to Responsible Investment
First Sentier Investors’ purpose is to deliver sustainable investment success for the benefit of our clients, employees, society and our shareholder and our vision is to be a provider of world-leading investment expertise and client solutions, led by our responsible investment principles.
We recognise that the individual and collective decisions we make as investors have far-reaching implications. While our business is to protect and enhance the value of our clients’ assets, we are aware of our wider responsibilities, such as upholding the quality and integrity of the financial markets we invest in and the allocation of capital to productive purposes that contribute to a sustainable economy and society.
During the course of this unique year, the First Sentier Investors (FSI) Responsible Investment (RI) Steering Group has continued to set the direction and strategy for RI within the firm. This included extensive discussions about how RI will continue to develop in a post-COVID world.
We believe 2020 will prove to be a watershed year for RI. As we emerge from the pandemic, there will be an everincreasing focus on how companies impact the world around them and how they earn their social licence to operate (SLO). A critical, intangible corporate asset, SLO refers to the broad, ongoing social acceptance that a company has a right to do business.
Key to the SLO equation are the stakeholders who hold companies to account. Governments, regulators and customers all play a vital role, and so do investors. Every decision about where we allocate capital is a vote regarding a company’s fitness to be in business.
We take our responsibility as stewards of our clients’ capital seriously, and this is why we believe in ongoing, meaningful engagement with companies on their environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance. We are committed to proactively engaging with management to foster better practices around issues including carbon emissions, human rights, diversity and workplace health and safety.
We believe that active managers have both an opportunity and a responsibility to be active. In a post-COVID world, we will all be searching for lessons we must take away from the pandemic. It is important that we use this opportunity to recognise the positive impact investors can make, and to continue looking at how we can work collaboratively with the companies we invest in.
Three broad issues, which we have been focusing on for some time, will take on even more importance as we emerge from the current pandemic:
- Climate change and biodiversity
- Human rights and modern slavery
- Workplace diversity, health and wellbeing
In this white paper, we assess how all of these issues have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, how we anticipate they will develop, and how they align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Our Approach to the Sustainable Development Goals
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.
The 17 SDGs are integrated—that is, they recognize that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability.
First Sentier Investors supports the SDGs. We believe that investors have an important role to play in allocating capital towards meeting these goals. In addition, we believe that the SDGs serve as a good framework for measuring how our investments and how we as an organisation contribute to sustainable development, which is a priority for us moving forward.
The information contained within this document is generic in nature and does not contain or constitute investment or investment product advice. The information has been obtained from sources that First Sentier Investors (“FSI”) believes to be reliable and accurate at the time of issue but no representation or warranty, expressed or implied, is made as to the fairness, accuracy, completeness or correctness of the information. Neither FSI, nor any of its associates, nor any director, officer or employee accepts any liability whatsoever for any loss arising directly or indirectly from any use of this document.
This document has been prepared for general information purpose. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to render special advice. The views expressed herein are the views of the writer at the time of issue and may change over time. This is not an offer document, and does not constitute an investment recommendation. No person should rely on the content and/or act on the basis of any matter contained in this document without obtaining specific professional advice. The information in this document may not be reproduced in whole or in part or circulated without the prior consent of FSI. This document shall only be used and/or received in accordance with the applicable laws in the relevant jurisdiction.
Reference to specific securities (if any) is included for the purpose of illustration only and should not be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell the same. All securities mentioned herein may or may not form part of the holdings of First Sentier Investors’ portfolios at a certain point in time, and the holdings may change over time.
In Hong Kong, this document is issued by First Sentier Investors (Hong Kong) Limited and has not been reviewed by the Securities & Futures Commission in Hong Kong. In Singapore, this document is issued by First Sentier Investors (Singapore) whose company registration number is 196900420D. This advertisement or publication has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. First Sentier Investors, FSSA Investment Managers and Stewart Investors are business names of First Sentier Investors (Hong Kong) Limited. First Sentier Investors (registration number 53236800B), FSSA Investment Managers (registration number 53314080C) and Stewart Investors (registration number 53310114W) are business divisions of First Sentier Investors (Singapore).
First Sentier Investors (Hong Kong) Limited and First Sentier Investors (Singapore) are part of the investment management business of First Sentier Investors, which is ultimately owned by Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. (“MUFG”), a global financial group. First Sentier Investors includes a number of entities in different jurisdictions.
MUFG and its subsidiaries are not responsible for any statement or information contained in this document. Neither MUFG nor any of its subsidiaries guarantee the performance of any investment or entity referred to in this document or the repayment of capital. Any investments referred to are not deposits or other liabilities of MUFG or its subsidiaries, and are subject to investment risk, including loss of income and capital invested.