We believe that sustainability is an important part of achieving excellence and building wealth for our clients.
We also believe that our teams are more likely to achieve these outcomes if we foster an inclusive culture and act with integrity. By integrating responsible investment practices across the firm, our financial planning, investment services and fund range can help support our clients’ investment needs and values.
Sustainability is a paradigm shift in the way we do business; asset managers are at the forefront of utilising finance and influence to make the shift to a lower carbon economy. We have a responsibility to help address the social, economic and environmental challenges facing our business, employees and clients, now and into the future.
As a part of Close Brothers Group we are led by the group’s sustainability objectives.
We take our responsibility towards the environment seriously. The whole of Close Brothers Group is committed to supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy and we will continue to work with all of our stakeholders on the journey to a net zero future. We are supportive of the goals of the Paris Agreement to achieve net zero by 2050 and are targeting becoming operationally net zero through our Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 2030.
Our approach to responsible investment is to integrate the evaluation of ESG factors within our investment research process and to reinforce the focus on material ESG issues through active engagement with investee companies.
We seek to protect our clients’ investments and to capitalise on opportunities to increase their wealth. These risks and opportunities include ESG related issues, which can arise from how entities in our investment universe interact with their stakeholders, and the societies and environments in which they operate. Therefore, we strive to give the material issues due attention in our investment process.
Our research and stewardship actions positively reinforce each other.
We aim to address sustainability risks and opportunities in our investment process through the ‘bottom-up’ fundamental analysis of ESG factors of our investments, and a ‘top-down’ analysis of sustainability themes facing global markets. The integration of ESG factors into investment decisions is a journey and therefore progress can vary across our investments. For more information on ESG integration across investment types, please see our annual Stewardship and Responsible Investment Report and our Stewardship and Responsible Investment Policy. From a bottom-up fundamental perspective, we have developed ESG frameworks to guide us in our analysis of ESG factors across our investment types: direct equity, direct fixed interest, and third-party fund managers. These frameworks aid us in our ESG integration process for research so that material ESG factors can be determined and considered alongside more traditional financial metrics.
Our bottom-up fundamental research is complemented by our top-down thematic research, which is based on our approach to a ‘Just Transition’: the simultaneous shift to an economy that is lower carbon, more sustainable and preserves, if not improves, biodiversity and our current climate, while protecting workers’ rights, and improving livelihoods and economic fairness.
The theme of a ‘Just Transition’ provides a lens through which investors can manage the systemic risks of climate change, allowing a consideration of the environmental and social impacts involved. By recognising that environmental, social, and economic factors are interconnected, a ‘Just Transition’ reflects a holistic approach to sustainability risk management that we believe will lead to a better future for people and our planet. To structure our thematic research we have broken the ‘Just Transition’ theme down into six sub-themes; Energy, Nature-based Solutions, Human/Workers’ Rights, Mobility/Buildings, Health/Wellbeing, and Food/Farming.
Our stewardship aim is to influence companies to promote long-term shareholder value for the benefit of our clients, people and the planet. We engage with a broad range of stakeholders, including companies, industry bodies and governments on sustainability risks and opportunities identified through our investment research. We collaborate with peers in investor initiatives to share research and maximise the impact we can have as investors.
We have been developing the integration of responsible investment practices into our investment process to create long-term value for clients and beneficiaries. We have been guided by the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) since becoming signatories in 2020.
Our approach is underpinned by our focus on stewardship, where we have set high standards of integrity and excellence with the aim of delivering consistent value for our clients. We have been included in the Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC) list of signatories to the UK Stewardship Code (the Code) following its Spring 2022 assessment.
Being an active investor allows us to make judgements on the materiality of idiosyncratic and systemic environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities for our investments. In turn this helps to fulfil our stewardship responsibilities and align our investments with our clients’ long-term financial goals. We now have frameworks that facilitate the integration of ESG factors across our different investment types and we will continue to refine these in the future.
We aim to integrate ESG analysis as part of all new initiation research notes, but the extent of ESG analysis can vary across different teams and investment types. More details of where we are at in our journey for ESG integration across investment types can be found on our website in our annual Stewardship and Responsible Investment Report.
Our product offering caters to clients who wish to further align their investments to their needs and values. We offer ethical screening, Sustainable Funds and our Socially Responsible Investment Service; and our research on ESG factors is available to all our portfolio managers.
We also believe that to manage our clients’ capital responsibly, it is important to be aware of, and respond to, the material risks presented by climate change.
To strengthen our offering we must make our progress measurable and hold ourselves to account, which is why we have made a commitment to the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative.
We will continue to integrate responsible investment and practice stewardship across our investments, as well as strengthen our approach to addressing the risks presented by climate change.
We will continue to support a ‘Just Transition’ through research and stewardship. In part, we will progress this through collaborative engagement initiatives that strengthen the focus of investors and companies on addressing human rights, workplace mental health, and other material social issues facing businesses as the world transitions to a lower carbon economy.
In line with our regulatory reporting obligations and desire to be transparent in fulfilling our commitments, we will be publishing entity- and product-level disclosures aligned with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations by 2024.
In January 2023 we published a thought piece on a sustainable energy transition.
We closely monitor forthcoming voting resolutions of the core holdings we invest in and vote via proxy or by attending general meetings. We focus our voting predominantly on core holdings within our managed portfolios and funds.
We have developed voting principles which reflect our convictions on best practice corporate governance based on our expertise and experience. Our analysts and investment managers on our Voting Panel determine the best way to vote for our discretionary holdings that reflects shareholders greatest interests. Our Voting report for Financial Year 2022.
We believe in the importance of collaboration, both internally and in the wider business community. This is why we are involved in a variety of industry initiatives – engaging will enable us to share insights with our peers and investee companies while we embark on a journey of change towards a more sustainable future together.
Before you invest, make sure you feel comfortable with the level of risk you take. Investments aim to grow your money, but they might lose it too.