Sarasin & Partners (Corporate Activity)
SRI / Ethical Overview
At Sarasin & Partners, we consider ourselves long-term stewards of our clients’ assets. We take this responsibility seriously and invest according to a set of core underlying principles and put these into practice through our three stewardship pillars.
1) Long-term active thematic investment. A long-term approach to investment requires an understanding of future economic, social, political, environmental and governance factors to successfully assess financial prospects. We look for businesses that will create enduring value for shareholders.
2) Active ownership. As long-term investors we believe we must participate in the effective governance of the companies our clients’ own.
3) Thought leadership and Policy Outreach. Investors should participate in the debate to shape the future investment landscape and promote sustainable economic growth.
The strategy is designed for the ‘concerned’ investor, who seeks broad global equity exposure, but sets a higher threshold on environmental, social and governance issues.
It seeks to avoid companies out of balance with societal needs and reflects intergenerational concerns about the legacy which companies leave for the next generation.
The strategy goes beyond an exclusions approach to consider carefully a number of key policies on ESG issues. It is responsible in its investment choices to the environment, to future generations, to the vulnerable in society and in ensuring effective oversight of company management.
Our responsible ownership strategies apply to equity assets in all geographic regions.
SRI Policies (Primary strategy in bold)
- 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.
- 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.
- Review(ing) carbon/fossil fuel exposure for all funds Find funds / fund managers that are reviewing or have reviewed their exposure to carbon intensive industries including (but not only) mining, oil and gas companies. This work is being carried out in the context of climate change related concerns, and may often reference international agreements.
- 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
Core beliefs that underpin our investment and stewardship activities include:
- Long-term investment horizons: Our clients tend to have long-term investment horizons. We believe taking a long-term approach is more likely to deliver enduring value for our clients than one oriented towards trading. We purchase securities on behalf of our clients where there is a case for value creation across market cycles. Our time horizon for evaluating potential investments is multi-year, with a decade or more being common.
- Responsible companies will tend to create more durable economic value: We believe companies that behave sustainably by taking seriously their responsibilities to their customers, staff, local communities, the environment, and their shareholders will tend (on average) to outperform operationally those that do not over the long term.
- Engaged ownership: We believe it is our responsibility to remain close to the companies that we hold on behalf of our clients. This means voting in a considered manner and - where concerns arise that may threaten the long-term health of our investment - engaging with the management and the Board.
- Performance goes beyond beating a benchmark: Our clients’ long-term interests are not best served by a narrow focus on relative short-term performance against a market index. Positive absolute performance achieved by the whole market also matters. Where we believe we can play a positive role in boosting broader performance through improved government or market-wide policies we will seek to catalyse policy change.
- Pragmatism: We understand that the world is complex, and standards, rules and expectations vary between countries and communities, and the potential for unintended consequences is high. Our core investment principles guide our approach to investment and stewardship, but we avoid hard and fast rules in implementation.
Resources, Affiliations & Corporate Strategies
Resources dedicated to ESG Issues
Sarasin & Partners has managed ethical mandates for over 20 years, predominantly for charity clients, and has extensive experience throughout the firm of implementing ethical and socially responsible policies. Within our client teams we have considerable experience of how ethical issues have evolved and the different ways in which they may be considered by different interest groups.
ESG is fully integrated into our investment process, so all of our analysts and PMs consider ESG factors when discussing stock ideas and building an investment case. They are supported by our Stewardship Team, led by Natasha Landell-Mills, who undertake research into specific ESG issues and manage policy engagement and governance.
We co-operate with other investors via a wide range of investor coalitions and discussion groups. We also get third party input from a range of data providers on ESG matters, such as the MSCI ESG Manager Research database.
Our approach to exclusions
For all clients we exclude companies involved in internationally condemned or illegal activities such as the manufacture of cluster bombs and landmines.
Our Responsible Global Equity fund excludes investment in companies which are materially involved in the production and distribution of ethically unacceptable products, including but not limited to:
- Extraction of thermal coal or the production of oil from tar sands
We seek to avoid investing in companies which are materially involved in ethically unacceptable practices, such as
- Environmental degradation
- Poor labour practices
- Breaches of human rights
- Companies which persistently, knowingly and materially breach international legal standards
S&P uses a combination of internal and external research in its investment process.
The vast majority of our core thematic ideas are generated internally. External sources are used to enhance and validate our internal idea generation and when appropriate provide specialist sector or industrial input. We also initiate, sponsor or participate in academic work and discussion to identify and investigate early opportunities, themes and trends.
Specific examples include:
- 13D Research – Evaluation of early stage concepts and themes
- Quest – Cash flow and comparability analysis
- Style Research – Risk, liquidity and correlation analysis
- Eurasia / Chatham House – Political analysis
- Royal United Services Institute – Political risk identification
Research into ESG factors is undertaken by our analysts. We use some external ESG research providers, such as MSCI and ISS, to help provide information on companies’ ESG practices that can supplement our internal research and help inform our investment judgements.