BMO (F&C) Responsible Sterling Bond 1 Inc (OEIC/Unit Trust)
SRI / Ethical Overview
The F&C Responsible Sterling Bond Fund aims to maximise returns through investment primarily in Fixed Interest securities of an ethically screened and diversified list of companies. The Fund may also invest in warrants, collective investment schemes, money market instruments and derivatives. A rigorous management process and widely diversified portfolio will seek to control excessive credit risk. The Fund favours companies making a positive contribution to society as well as furthering sustainable development and screens for those taking positive action to improve the environment, conserve resources and operate in a transparent and open way in the reporting of their business activities.
SRI / themed / ethical assets under management – overview
- Fund Size (GBP): £107.2m as at 31 March 2018
- Total value of SRI/ethical/environmental/ social/ environmental or sustainability themed funds under management: £1,847m as at 31 March 2018
- Total value of assets covered by responsible ownership policy: As at 31 March 2018 our flagship reo® service, a global engagement and proxy voting service that can be applied across equities and corporate credit, covered a total of £143,779m of assets for internal holdings and external clients.
- Total assets under management: £185,517m as at 31 March 2018
SRI Policies (Primary strategy in bold)
- Environmental policy Find investment funds with environmental policies - ie that consider issues such as pollution, climate change, resource management, environmental impact. This will include options from all of the different SRI Styles, including funds where their core strategy is to focus on other areas such as ethical funds. See fund information for fund specific policy details.
- Ethical policies Find funds with 'traditional' ethical investment policies. These typically focus on avoiding companies that are involved in the armaments industry, tobacco, gambling and/or pornography. Options will include funds where their core strategy or style may be to focus other issues - like sustainability or the environment, not just 'ethical funds'. Strategies vary significantly. Check fund literature for details.
- Sustainability policy Find fund options that consider issues relating to the sustainability agenda (e.g. resource management, environmental impact, climate change and/or social issues such as equal opportunities, human rights and adherence to recognised codes). This will include funds from all of the different SRI Styles. See fund information for explanations of the different strategies.
- Social policy Find fund options that consider social issues (e.g. human rights, labour standards, equal opportunities, child labour and adherence to internationally recognised codes such as the UN Global Compact). This will include funds in most of the different SRI Styles as this is considered a core issue. See fund information for detail.
- Governance policy Find fund options that have policies that relate to corporate governance issues such as board structure, executive remuneration, bribery and/or corporate corruption. These funds will typically avoid companies with poor practices.
- Animal welfare policy Find ethical fund options that have policies that require specific animal welfare standards to be adopted by investee companies in order for them to be considered for inclusion within the fund.
- Animal testing exclusion policy Find ethical investment options that avoid companies that are involved in testing their products on animals. Ethical fund strategies vary - some exclude all companies that test on animals, others allow companies that test for medical purposes or where required by law. Read fund details for fund specific information.
- Tobacco production avoided Find fund options that exclude manufacturers of tobacco (or related) products. This typically relates to ethical funds however funds from other SRI Styles commonly avoid this area also. Strategies vary and funds may invest in retailers of such products (e.g. supermarkets or hotels.) See fund information for further information.
- Armaments manufacturers avoided Find ethical fund (and other SRI) options that avoid avoids companies that manufacture products intended specifically for military use. Fund strategies vary - particularly with regard to non strategic military products. Read fund literature for specific details.
- Nuclear exclusion policy Find ethical funds (and other options) that have a published policy that sets out the fund's position on avoiding or limiting exposure to nuclear power. See fund literature for details of their policy.
- Climate change / GHG policy Find sustainable investment and ethical fund options that pay significant attention to climate change related issues such as greenhouse gas/carbon emissions. Strategies vary, see fund literature for individual fund information.
- Invests in clean energy/renewables Find ethical, sustainable investment and other environmentally aware fund options that aim to invest in companies in the clean technology and renewable energy sectors. Fund strategies vary. Some funds may have limited exposure to this area, others may have significant exposure. Check fund literature for details.
- Alcohol production excluded This filter helps you to find ethical funds - and other options - that avoid investment in alcohol production. See fund literature for further information.
- Fracking and tar sands excluded Find fund options that avoid companies involved in fracking and tar sands - which are widely regarded as more controversial methods of oil and gas extraction.
- Gambling avoidance policy Find ethical fund options (and other options) that avoid companies with significant involvement in the gambling industry. See fund policy for details.
- Pornography avoidance policy Find ethical fund option - and in some cases other options - that avoid companies that derive significant income from pornography. See fund details for further information.
- Human rights Find funds that consider human rights practices when approving companies for investment. Such funds will require decent standards of human rights to be demonstrated - which typically means adherence to international norms as a minimum standard.
- Responsible supply chain policy or theme (new) Find funds that have policies or a themed that considers the responsible management of supply chain related issues (these may relate to employment, product sourcing, sustainability or other issues)
- Positive selection bias Find funds where their main 'ethical approach' is to invest in companies that are considered to be positive/good or useful to people and/or the environment. The fund may also have negative avoidance criteria - see fund details to read more about fund strategies.
- Balances company 'pros and cons'/best in sector Find ethical funds and other options that consider both the 'positive' things companies do and the 'negative' things they do in order to make balanced, often complex decisions about where they might invest. Such funds often invest in the best/most ethical companies across most industries ('best in sector'), rather than excluding entire sectors. The fund manager may combine this with 'responsible engagement' activity to encourage better business practices. See fund literature for specific policy explanations.
- Eurosif transparency Find funds that meet the standards of the EUROSIF transparency Code. This means that they are a leading fund in terms of openness and transparency, publishing - for example - extensive information about where they invest and how they deal with companies.
- Sustainability themed Find funds where there is a significant emphasis on sustainability issues either as its primary strategy or as a core strategy that compliments other criteria. (This may apply to a number of different SRI Styles). Such funds will consider environmental and social issues when making stock selection decisions. Read fund literature for further information.
- Favours companies with strong social policies Find funds that invest in line with positive strategies that relate to 'people' issues - such as having strong human rights, labour standards and equal opportunities practices. Such funds are likely to invest in companies that have market leading standards with regard to employee and supplier practices. Read fund literature for further information.
- Strictly screened ethical fund Find funds that have a high level of negative ethical avoidance. These funds are likely to exclude more companies than other ethical (and SRI) fund options. Read fund literature for further information.
- Aims to generate positive impacts Find funds that aim to help deliver positive social or environmental impacts or outcomes through their investment decisions - which typically involves holding companies that are viewed as being necessary or beneficial. Strategies and approaches vary. A small number of funds have recently started to measure outcomes (see 'Measures Impacts' in the Policy filter). This is a new area - so most funds do not do this yet. See fund literature for further information.
- Responsible ownership / stewardship policy (new) Find funds that have a policy that sets out what they do with regard to responsible investment ownership - also known as 'stewardship'. This typically relates to issues such as dialogue with companies and shareholder voting.
- ESG integration strategy (new) Find funds that factor in 'environmental, social and governance' issues as part of their investment decision making process. (These typically relate to improved risk management.)
- Combines norms based exclusions with other SRI criteria (new) Find funds that make significant use of internationally agreed 'norms' (eg United Nations Global Compact - UNGC - or the UN Sustainable Development Goals - SDGs) as part of their investment selection process ALONGSIDE additional SRI criteria such as positive or negative stock selection policies and/or stewardship strategies.
- Combines ESG strategy with other SRI criteria (new) Find funds that have an ESG strategy (which is typically focuses on avoiding companies that post environmental, social or governance related risks) with additional criteria such as positive and/or negative screens or engagement/stewardship strategies.
- Employ external oversight or advisory committee (new) Find funds that have a external committee that helps steer or advise fund managers on SRI policy or strategy related issues. These people may be paid for their time but are not employees of the fund manager.
- ESG/SRI engagement Find funds and fund management companies that actively encourages higher 'environmental, social and governance' and/or 'sustainable and responsible investment' practices amongst investee companies - when positive change is aligned with the best interest of investors. This may apply to a single fund or a group of funds. Read fund literature for further information.
- Responsible Ownership policy for non SRI funds Find funds run by fund managers that apply Responsible Ownership or 'Stewardship' policies to all or most of their investment assets. This means that active involvement (e.g. voting, dialogue) with the companies they invest in across funds (not normally limited to ethical or SRI options.) Read fund literature for further information.
- Integrates ESG factors into all/most fund research Find fund management companies that research environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues when deciding whether or not to invest in a company. This typically applies to all funds, not only those which are promoted as being 'ethical' or 'SRI themed'. This is increasingly often used as a risk management tool.
- Vote all* shares at AGMs/EGMs This fund manager votes or aims to vote all* the shares they own at Annual General Meetings and Extraordinary General Meetings. A commitment to voting shares is a key indicator of 'responsible share ownership' - where fund managers consider - and express their views on - the key business issues effecting the companies they part own. (*Allowance is made for exceptional situations such as when shares are in the process of being sold.)
- In house responsible ownership/voting expertise Find fund / fund management companies where there is in-house expertise that enables the fund manager to make their own decisions on issues such as shareholder voting, setting of in-house guidelines - for example - particularly with regard to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.
- Responsible Ownership/ESG a key differentiator The fund managers have said they consider this area to be a key differentiator for their business
- UK Stewardship Code signatory Find fund managers that are signatories to the FRC UK Stewardship Code, which sets out a framework for constructive investor / investee relations where fund managers are encouraged to behave as responsible 'company owners'.
- Publish Responsible Ownership/Stewardship report Find fund management companies that publish information on their approach to responsible investment ownership - also known as 'Stewardship' - following the introduction of 'the Stewardship Code'. This sets out their approach to voting, dialogue with company management and any related activity. This is publicly available.
- Publish full voting record Find fund management companies that publishes a full record of how they vote at AGMs and EGMs. This information is publicly available.
- Regularly lead collaborative ESG initiatives Find funds managed by fund management companies that regularly initiate or help run industry wide (collaborative) investor projects aimed at raising environmental, social and governance standards amongst investee companies.
- PRI signatory Find fund management companies that have signed up to the UN backed 'Principles of Responsible Investment' initiative.
- UKSIF member (new) The fund management company is a member of UKSIF - the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance association
- Climate Action 100+ or IIGCC member (new) Involved in collaborative institutional investor initiatives that are encouraging companies to address climate change (ie reduce carbon emissions)
- Encourage board diversity eg gender (new) Fund managers encourage the companies they invest in to have more diverse board structures (eg more women on boards)
- Encourage responsible corporate taxation (new) Fund management company is working with the companies it invests in to encourage more responsible corporate taxation (new)
- Encourage carbon / GHG reduction (new) The fund management company is working with the companies it invests in to encourage reductions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.
- Employ specialist ESG/SRI/sustainability researchers (new) The fund management company directly employs specialist ESG/SRI/sustainability researchers or analysts
- Use specialist ESG/SRI/sustainability research companies (new) The company makes use of expert external research
- In house carbon/GHG reduction policy (new) The fund management company is working to reduce its own carbon/greenhouse gas emissions.
- Full SRI policy information on company website (new) All information that relates to the filter options that the fund manager has selected on this fund can be found on their company website
SRI / Ethical Policy
All securities considered for investment first undergo screening by members of the GSI team, to determine if they meet the criteria for inclusion in the portfolio’s investable universe. The GSI team has created a thorough and robust process to analyse companies to determine whether they meet the Fund criteria:
- The Fund will exclude companies with exposure to any business activities deemed to be socially or environmentally damaging, with particular tolerance thresholds. These excluded activities have adapted over time with the development of major social and environmental issues.
- The Fund will also exclude companies which do not meet sufficiently high standards in how they operate, based on a detailed assessment of their policies and performance with respect to overall sustainability management. The focus will vary by sector according to relevance and includes certain absolute exclusions in company behaviour but is otherwise often a qualitative judgement. In order to make these assessments, BMO Global Asset Management have established particular positions on a range of relevant issues, such as climate change and what we consider to be progressive approaches to these issues by companies. These positions are based on a range of inputs that include evolving international norms and agreements, extensive primary research, including field visits and the input of our Responsible Investment Advisory Council.
- The external Responsible Investment Advisory Council is also involved in reviewing the approvability ratings of companies as well as in developing the screening criteria for the Fund and targeting engagement activity. Input is also frequently sought from a range of stakeholders. We provide below a brief snapshot of the criteria (not an exhaustive list of screens):
- Nuclear power generation
Please note: This fund is currently in a transition period for our Responsible Fund Range policy introduced in 2017 to divest from companies with fossil fuel reserves. As such this fund’s policy currently allows investment in companies that own fossil fuel reserves, however these will have to be sold out of ahead of January 2020 when the fund will become fossil fuel free, in line with rest of the Responsible Fund Range.
- Arctic and ecologically-sensitive operations
- Environmental management
- Animal Welfare
- Health and safety
- Human rights and oppressive regimes
- Labour standards
- Business ethics
The GSI team has a quarterly monitoring system to identify:
- Changes to business e.g. through mergers and acquisitions
- Whether the criteria continues to be met by the company (ethical, environmental and social)
- Any controversies that may affect the company rating (e.g. mis-selling, environmental damage or corruption).
Resources, Affiliations & Corporate Strategies
The F&C Responsible Sterling Bond Fund embodies the contributions of three separate specialist teams, namely the Credit team, the GSI team, and the Responsible Investment Advisory Council, who provide vital input on ethical and sustainability issues. Firstly, investment management of portfolios, in terms of credit research, choice of investments and portfolio construction, takes place within our Credit team. Secondly, issuers for portfolios need to have undergone, and passed, a rigorous screening on their ethical and sustainability credentials, conducted by the GSI team. Finally, the Responsible Investment Advisory Council provides fully independent input on the ethical and sustainability criteria. It must be emphasised that the process remains investment led.
BMO Global Asset Management draws on a range of specialist ESG research sources to inform proxy voting and engagement activities. We are using Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) for global proxy voting research and vote execution services. In addition, we are using Institutional Voting Information Service (IVIS) for supplementary advice on FTSE All-Share companies. Other relevant resources include sell-side brokers (corporate governance and sustainability research) and MSCI (ESG factors). We also consider research by broader stakeholders including NGOs such as Transparency International (anti-corruption), Oxfam and Human Rights Watch.
Our research is also informed by our networks that may provide briefings and publications, including the UN PRI, International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN) and the Asian Corporate Governance Association (ACGA). We may also draw on external consultants with expertise in particular areas, although presently we have no such arrangements underway. We are also part of a global asset management firm with investment professionals and other expert resources spread across the world, and we of course have access to their insight and expertise on an as needed basis.