“To me, sustainability means acting in such a way today that makes life still worth living on our planet tomorrow. As an insurer and a large company, but also as employees, we can have a large impact in this regard. From small, everyday impacts such as the content of our plates in the canteen to large issues beyond our own noses in our asset management investments.”Christopher Hilger, Customer Satisfaction
Baloise is an insurance company which arose from the idea of a supportive community. We have always been aware of how important it is to take responsibility and put our actions at the service of sustainable development. Baloise Asset Management – the asset manager of the Baloise Group – integrates into the overall strategy and assumes responsibility in the area of investment strategy for investing the insurance assets of the Baloise Group as well as for investing the assets of external customers, such as pension funds.
In order to effect the biggest possible impact on social transformation as a corporate citizen, both Baloise’s value-added approach as well as the UN Sustainable Development Goals are applied as a framework for the implementation of goals and measures. Within this framework, Baloise Asset Management primarily focuses on climate action and thus on Sustainable Development Goal No. 13 (combating climate change) when it comes to responsible investment.
We are confident that the integration of ESG criteria in our investment process will have a positive effect on the return risk and will reduce the downside risk in our investments. As a result, we consider this integration to be an additional risk management tool.
Our understanding of responsible investment
We understand responsible investment as the inclusion of environmental, social responsibility and governance (ESG) factors in investment decisions. Our investment strategy has a long-term focus, which is the nature of the insurance business. Due to the long-term obligations arising from life insurance contracts or occupational pension contracts, short-term profit maximisation is not the main focus.
The ultimate goal of our investment strategy is to obtain a result which is as great and sustainable as possible. Within this goal, we integrate the principles of responsible investment into our investment process. We are confident that this will have a long-term positive effect on the risk/return profile by reducing reputational risks, potential legal risks and the accompanying negative financial results.
Since early 2019, Baloise Asset Management has been investing new funds for all insurance assets and thus for the collective foundation on the basis of the newly defined responsible investment policy. The scope of our responsible investment policy relates to investments in shares and bonds, including loans.
Baloise Asset Management also includes the Real Estate division. Baloise is one of the largest real estate owners in Switzerland. When it comes to the management of our real estate investments, investment decisions are based on profitability and sustainability. In new construction projects, attention is paid to energy-efficient construction and operating systems, as well as the use of environmentally friendly construction materials. In this case, we look at the life cycle assessment over the entire life cycle of a property.
We strive to strengthen our commitment to our customers, shareholders and employees. Therefore, we became a signatory of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) in 2018, and became a member of Swiss Sustainable Finance this year.
We apply our responsible investment policy
Our responsible investment policy (RI-Policy) consists of three strategic pillars: ESG Integration, Exclusion and the exercise of voting rights.
Exclusion and transparency with regard to climate effects
Climate change and the resulting effects, such as an increased likelihood of natural disasters along with the damage these cause, are key to our long-term investments. It is in our interest to keep environmental risks as low as possible while also achieving a positive impact on the environment in order to sustain it for us all in the long term. Our efforts in this area are embedded in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 13 (combating climate change).
In order to increase the transparency of our endeavours with regard to SDG No. 13, we establish an annual carbon footprint of our portfolio compared to that of the benchmark. It shows comparisons between the effective and the comparative portfolios for Swiss equities, European equities and our bond portfolio (Swiss equities: Swiss Market Index; EUR equities: Euro Stoxx 50; bonds: Barclays Global Aggregate). In our portfolios, we exhibit a significantly lower carbon footprint (as at: 31 December 2018).
Our guiding principles for responsible investment
- Responsible investment requires collective measures. As of 2018, we are a signatory of the six Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).
- A long-term, holistic investment horizon is essential in investment analysis for a positive risk/return profile. We therefore integrate ESG factors in the investment process.
- We regularly review completed investments to ensure that all our various insurance units comply with the RI guidelines.
- We take our voting rights seriously. As a responsible shareholder, we exercise our statutory voting rights for Swiss stocks by following the principles of good and ethical corporate governance.
- We report on our activities in a transparent and proactive manner.
Our responsible investment governance
We have adjusted our governance structure based on responsible investment and the associated integration of ESG criteria in our investment decision-making process as well as the necessary monitoring of our responsible investment (RI) policy. Our newly established Responsible Investment Committee (RIC), which is made up of various department heads from the Group's Asset Management and Sustainability departments, is responsible for developing the RI strategy and monitoring the investment policy.
We take responsibility seriously
We wish to take our responsibility in the Swiss market for responsible investments seriously and actively contribute towards further developments. We have therefore joined working groups for responsible investment by the Swiss Insurance Association (SIA), the Swiss Funds & Asset Management Association (SFAMA) and Swiss Sustainable Finance (SSF).