“By polluting the oceans, not mitigating CO2 emissions and destroying our biodiversity, we are killing our planet. Let us face it, there is no planet B.”Emmanuel Macron, President of France
The LWM Story
It all started with our Ethical Portfolio in 2014, which we renamed the Balanced Positive Impact Portfolio in 2020 whilst expanding the range to include our Cautious and Adventurous versions. These sit alongside our mainstream portfolios; however, we do expect some crossover in holdings over time.
This experience gives us great insight into the sector and what to look for. At the heart of the portfolios is a desire to achieve positive outcomes for the environment and society without sacrificing returns.
Making a difference
All the Portfolios are tested on and carry both the Morningstar 5 Globe Rating and Low Carbon Designation.
A 5 Globe Rating indicates the portfolio is at the top end of its peer group in terms of sustainability, and takes matters of environment, society, and governance seriously.
A Morningstar Low Carbon Designation is assigned to portfolios which have low carbon-risk scores and low levels of fossil-fuel exposure.
What is Responsible Investing?
This is an umbrella term covering different routes to investing in companies that are doing good and we believe there are three main routes to achieving this:
This is the traditional way of investing responsibly. Screening is used to determine whether a company will be considered.
At a basic level this involves avoiding undesirable activities, typically things like tobacco, arms, pornography etc. This is referred to as negative screening and is the most common method used.
This has however evolved over time with a focus on what the company does, such as renewable energy, education etc. This is called positive screening because the manager looks to identify good reasons to invest instead of choosing things to avoid.
Sustainable / Responsible
Sustainable investing is an investment discipline that considers environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) criteria to generate long-term competitive financial returns and positive societal impact. Like Ethical investing there is no single approach to sustainable investing.
This is the final step (in terms of the investment journey we travel), which goes beyond sustainable / responsible investing and looks directly at companies that have a measurable social and environmental impact.
An example company would be Befesa who take steel dust and recycle it into zinc oxide, and then into zinc which is finally used for strengthening steel. Another example is Alfen who manage the distribution of power used for the growing electronic vehicle (EV) market.
What approach does LWM take?
We start by looking at our objectives which focus on doing good for the environment and society without sacrificing returns.
To this end, we build the investments first; whether they fall into the ethical, sustainable or impact bucket is almost irrelevant. We take a blended approach to deliver the best outcomes and the chart below shows the current split between buckets in our Balanced Positive Impact Portfolio.
All research is carried out in-house, we do not outsource to third parties. We aim to meet as many fund managers as possible in our research and will share our notes on this page. We have six key questions which include
- How the fund manager classes the fund and why (for example, sustainable, impact or ethical)
- What elements are important to them and why
- What outcomes they are looking to achieve
- How they measure results and the impact on what is important to them
- Whether they invest in transitioning assets (assets which are adapting to positive change)
- What makes them different
To demonstrate this process, below are four current holdings, and two holdings on our watchlist.
ASI Europe ex UK Ethical Equity Fund (Ethical) – included in the portfolios
The principal outcome for the strategy is to deliver investor-led sustainability. The strategy excludes those sectors that investors are concerned about and prioritises those with the right processes and solutions. Investors have a voice in the criteria managers employ to create the investable universe.
They do invest in companies that are transitioning to positive change, but they must be within the guidelines set by the investors in the Ethical Approach Document. This document lays out the negative exclusions as well as the positive inclusions.
Carmignac Emerging Markets Fund (Sustainable) – included in the portfolios
The strategy aims to enable positive change in emerging market countries by contributing directly or indirectly to improve living standards in these countries with their investments. It involves delivering the best returns possible while having a positive impact on society and the environment. The strategy uses a combination of negative screening and exclusion policies as well as ESG integration and positive screening. They also favour companies with a low carbon approach.
Yes, they are looking at trajectory and efforts undertaken by companies rather than having a static approach that consists of looking at a company/its ESG scoring at a given time. Therefore, transitioning companies are key, as by making efforts and changing the way they operate, they have more potential impact in driving positive change.
Regnan Global Equity Impact Solutions Fund (Impact) – included in the portfolios
The strategy is a solutions-first strategy, focused on investing in mission-driven businesses that address underserved environmental and social challenges and deliver real, systematic change for the better.
Yes, the strategy will invest in transformational companies undergoing a significant shift in their business model or operations towards one that is focused on the delivery of a solution as identified using their proprietary systems.
Civitas Investment Trust (Thematic Impact) – included in the portfolios
The strategy is a leading Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) dedicated to investing in the social housing and healthcare sectors in the UK. They have a dual objective of achieving both positive financial returns and large scale measurable social impact.
Home REIT – watchlist
The main aim of the trust is to alleviate homelessness in the UK by providing well-located properties that provide a sustainable level of rent for tenants.
Montanaro Better World Fund – watchlist
This invests globally in small and mid-cap companies that make a positive impact on the world. The six themes they focus on are environmental protection, green economy, healthcare, innovative technology, nutrition and well-being.
There are really two reasons, the first is personal, and the second is about what is happening around us.
We know that responsible investing will not appeal to everyone, but we also know that to make change happen more investment needs to be directed to those companies that are delivering change.
This is aimed at those clients who want to either invest some or all their investments towards this, or even set aside some money for children or grandchildren.
We have managed these investments since 2014 and we can demonstrate that investors do not need to sacrifice returns to achieve a positive outcome for the environment and society.
Multi-decade changes are coming
Even if we do not believe this is for us, it is important to recognise that there is growing pressure from governments to individuals to do something to slow global warming and improve society.
The UN has set out ten principles for businesses to incorporate which fall under four areas – human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption. The Paris Agreement looks to limit global warming to below 2 degrees. Governments including the UK, China and the US have outlined environmental policies. Activists like David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg are leading individuals to demand change.
Change will happen, and we need to be on the right side of this.
What is the benchmark
We use the Royal London UK FTSE4Good Tracker Trust. The FTSE4Good Index is a series of ethical investment stock market indices launched in 2001 by the FTSE Group. The index excludes companies due to their involvement in tobacco production, nuclear weapons, conventional weapon systems, or coal power industry and rates companies for inclusion based environmental sustainability, relationships with stakeholders, attitudes to human rights, supply chain labour standards and the countering of bribery. Example holdings include Unilever, AstraZeneca, HSBC Holdings, Diageo, and GlaxoSmithKline. This is an evolving area, and we believe this to be the closest match.
We will add our most recent blogs below.
|28 February 2020||Positive Impact Investments|
|28 February 2020||Building a more sustainable society|
|11 March 2021||50 Shades of Green|