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Standard Life Inv UK Ethical Trust Ret (OEIC/Unit Trust)

SRI Style: Ethically Balanced
Fund Type: OEIC/Unit Trust
Region: UK
Asset Type: Equity
Launch Date: 20/09/1998

SRI / Ethical Overview

The UK Ethical Equity Fund aims to provide long term growth by investing in a diversified portfolio of UK equity assets that meet our strict ethical criteria. These criteria are agreed with the Standard Life Ethical Funds Advisory Group and may be amended from time to time if considered appropriate. The fund manager will exclude companies which fail to meet the ethical criteria whilst seeking to include companies whose business activities are regarded as making a positive contribution to society.

 

SRI / themed / ethical assets under management – overview:
  

  • Fund Size (GBP):   £318.2 million    as of 31 May 2018
  • Total value of SRI/ethical/environmental/ social/ environmental or sustainability themed funds under management:   £11 billion     as of 31 December 2017
  • Total assets under management:   Aberdeen Standard Investments has a total of £575.7 billion assets under management as of 31 December 2017

 

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.
  • Health & wellbeing policies Find ethical or sustainable investment fund options that have a policy which supports (ie aims to invest in) companies that are viewed as offering positive lifestyle, health or wellbeing related benefits.
  • Limits exposure to carbon intensive industries Find environmental, sustainable investment, ethical fund and other options that aim to significantly reduce or limit exposure to carbon intensive industries (ie sectors which are major contributors to climate change). Funds vary - strategies may involve excluding sectors such as coal, oil & gas, mining or airlines - or may indicate a 'best in sector' approach is taken. See 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Coal, oil &/or gas majors excluded Find sustainable investment and ethical fund options that avoid significant involvement in coal, oil and/or gas producing companies. Funds vary. See individual fund literature to confirm details.
  • 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.

SRI Features

  • RSMR Rated Find funds that are rated by research agency 'Rayner Spencer Mills Research' (awarded 'RSMR SRI Rated' status). Read fund literature on contact RSMR for further information.
  • 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.
  • Negative selection bias Find funds where their main 'ethical approach' is to avoid companies by using negative screening criteria. Read fund literature for further information.
  • 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.
  • Over 50% large cap Find funds that invests more than half of their money into what are commonly regarded as 'large companies'. This will typically mean that the market capitalisation (or value) of the companies they hold is in excess of £5 to £10 billion.
  • Favours cleaner, greener companies Find funds that aim to nvest in companies with strong environmental policies and practices. This may mean it invests in smaller companies offering market leading environmental services or products and/or larger companies that are working towards the improved management of their negative impacts. 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.
  • Available via an ISA Find funds that are available via a tax efficient ISA product wrapper

Corporate Activity

  • 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.

SRI / Ethical Policy

While we recognise the personal nature of everyone’s ethics, we aim to ensure that the funds are reflective of the wider views of those who invest in them. We regularly review the criteria, both positive and negative, through customer surveys and consultations to ensure they remain relevant and industry leading.

 

Positive Criteria

Using positive criteria, we favour companies that are involved in activities that benefit society and the environment. We use the UN Global Compact to define the four areas where we seek positive business practices and services.

 

  • Environment: We seek to invest in companies that have a positive impact on the environment, and contribute to environmental protection and enhancement through its products and services.
  • Human Rights & Community: We seek companies that respect and support the human rights of those affected by its business, offer products and services that provide access to some of the world’s most basic rights, and have strong relationships within their communities.
  • Employment: We seek to invest in companies that have strong labour practices, and implement strong safety, health and welfare policies.
  • Anti-bribery & Corruption: We favour investment in companies that uphold the highest standards of business ethics and demonstrate strong anti-corruption policies, and adopted and embed a code which encourages employees to follow principles of good business behaviour and positive corporate culture.

 

Corporate Governance

The funds adopt a formal corporate governance policy. We actively vote at the AGMs of the companies held in the funds. Due consideration is given to issues such as board independence, excessive remuneration and audit issues. Voting is conducted within the terms of the Ethical Funds Investment Policy and in the best of interests of the investors in the funds.

 

In addition, the funds will adopt a policy of voting:

 

  • against the Chairman of any company where the board fails to have set policy, have oversight or take responsibility for environmental, social, health & safety and human rights issues.
  • against members of any health, safety and environment committee where insufficient oversight has resulted in poor performance in these areas.

 

Engagement

The fund pursues an active engagement policy. We engage with companies on a range of environmental and social issues with the aim that good corporate behaviour is adopted by the companies in which the funds invest. Where engagement proves ineffective and concerns remain over corporate behaviour and oversight of these issues, we will disinvest from a company. It is our ambition that this active engagement will challenge and encourage companies in which the funds invest to improve their environmental and social performance and practices.

 

Negative Criteria

If a company is involved in the activities listed below, the funds will avoid investment in them.

 

  • Environmental damage and pollution
  • Weapons
  • Human rights abuses
  • Nuclear
  • Alcohol production
  • Animal  testing
  • Animal husbandry
  • Fur
  • Pornography
  • Marketing breast milk substitutes
  • Tobacco
  • Gambling
  • Poor business practices

 

The funds will also avoid companies that have failed one or more of the ten principles of the UN Global Compact.

Resources, Affiliations & Corporate Strategies

Standard Life Investments has had a long history of taking ESG issues into account. We have heavily invested in resources dedicated to the analysis of ESG themes. In particular, we have two teams focusing on the integration of these issues into our investment process:

1) our Governance & Stewardship Team, who analyses how a company is governed and implements an active voting process, and

2) our Responsible Investment Team, who assess companies on sustainability issues. 

Within our regional equity teams, fund management and research is a combined role, whereby each equity manager is individually accountable for stocks held in their portfolios, while at the same time working as a team through review and debate of investment ideas based on the research they have conducted in each sector. Each of our regional equity teams (UK, Europe, North America and GEM/Asia) is organised in this way, creating a common research platform for all equity products where analysis and resources are freely shared.

The vast majority of our investment ideas are generated from information and analysis from one-on-one company meetings. Collectively, more than 3,000 company meetings are conducted annually across Standard Life Investments. These meetings are used to ascertain the company’s own views and expectations of the future prospects for their company and the markets in which they invest. External secondary research is also generated to gain insight on the consensus view and supplement our own proprietary research. This includes the use of industry experts such as Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG), and the Coleman Research Group, to challenge and test our theses in specialist products or developing new areas. The sell-side research available in the market provides a useful gauge as to what is already known or priced in by the markets.

In addition, both our Governance & Stewardship and Responsible Investment Teams have a systematic programme of ongoing engagement with companies to encourage and monitor sustainability practices, and to discuss a range of relevant corporate governance issues such as Board balance and composition, remuneration policies, and audit and risk issues. These Teams are closely integrated with our asset class teams and regularly attend company meetings together, providing analysis from both a financial and ESG perspective to get a comprehensive view of the company. Our main ESG data providers are Sustainalytics, Bloomberg, GMI, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and IVIS. Additionally, EIRiS, an independent research agency, is a key system used to determine which companies comply with our strict ethical criteria within our Ethical Funds. We input our negative and positive criteria into the EIRiS web-based database system, which then generates lists of the companies that pass or fail the criteria. We also use the system to identify which companies are rated as “preferred” on the basis of their positive criteria. These ratings are added to our proprietary quantitative model, which used by our regional equity investors as a screening input and decision support tool to their stock analysis process using normal investment criteria.

Ultimate accountability for the investment decisions within the portfolio is the responsibility of the appointed Portfolio Manager.

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