We understand responsible investment as the inclusion of selected sustainability criteria in our investment decisions. As well as incorporating ESG criteria, exercising our voting rights and excluding selected industries, our approach is now being enhanced and strengthened to include a climate strategy and an Active Ownership Strategy.
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.
When it comes to investing insurance and third-party customer funds, we align our investment strategy with the needs of our customers. 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 convinced that this will have a positive impact on the risk/return profile in the long run.
Sustainable investment is a key principle for our activities in the area of sustainability, which is an integral component of our business strategy. This is why we are constantly aiming to enhance our approach. We aim to use these efforts to make a positive contribution to protecting the climate and to society at large, as well as to reduce any negative effects on society and the environment.
The funds we invest responsibly
Since the start of 2019, Baloise Asset Management has been making new investments for all insurance funds based on the defined responsible investment policy, our responsible investment approach.
Our responsible investment approach now extends to liquid investments, bonds, alternative investments such as senior secured loans and real estate. This means that around 80 per cent of our investment volume is currently invested responsibly.
Our responsible investment approach still consists of three strategic pillars. The “Exclusion” and “Integration of ESG factors” pillars have been added as new aspects with the climate strategy. The previous “Proxy voting” pillar has been enhanced and elaborated with the help of the “Active Ownership Strategy”. This means that Baloise’s responsible investment approach has become more comprehensive as a result.
Our new climate strategy came into force on 1 February 2021 and strengthens the focus on climate and climate protection matters within our responsible investment approach. This allows us to make a contribution to Sustainable Development Goal No. 13 (combating climate change). Our climate strategy consists of four areas:
One new feature is the reduction in the threshold for turnover generated by coal from 30 to 10 per cent due to the high level of CO2 emitted during combustion and mining. In addition to this, producers of unconventional oil and gas are excluded where this activity exceeds the turnover threshold of 10 per cent due, among things, to the large amount of CO2 consumed during extraction and the major risks posed to the environment during production. Companies with a high volume of stranded assets, i.e. assets which pose a financial risk in light of the revolution in the way energy is produced, alongside insufficient management of the risks arising from this development (e.g. charges for CO2 emissions), are excluded too.
In the integration area, more detailed ESG data will be included in the investment decision-making process in addition to the overall ESG rating published by the provider MSCI. In particular, our Portfolio Management team has access to the MSCI Low Carbon Transition Score and other dedicated climate indicators, so that it can take these into account in its investment decisions in a forward-looking manner and to the benefit of all involved. The Low Carbon Transition Score measures the degree to which a company has aligned itself to the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Our two enhancements complement each other in this area: As part of our Active Ownership Strategy, we engage in active dialogue with companies on specific and general issues impacting climate change. In doing so, we are underlining our commitment to increased transparency on the part of companies with regard to climate performance indicators.
Baloise Asset Management is committed to reporting transparently on its climate strategy and the consequences of this. This is done on portfolio level, factoring in the legal requirements of the European Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) at the same time. Second, we implement the recommendations made by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), ensuring greater transparency in our own reporting.
Our Active Ownership Strategy came into force on 1 March 2021 and allows us to use our financial strength to convince company management teams to adopt a conscious approach to managing ESG risks and to exploit opportunities in these areas. This allows us to promote the transition to a sustainable economy.
As mentioned above, our climate strategy and our Active Ownership Strategy complement each other. One new aspect is the direct dialogue we will be engaging in with companies, also on the topic of climate change as one of our focal issues in collaboration with other investors. This allows us to bundle the interests of various investors, meaning that we can exert more influence over the companies we want to invest in. We also use memberships of associations to enter into dialogue with the public sector on ESG issues in connection with specific regulatory projects and continue to exercise our voting rights at the annual general meetings of companies whose shares we hold in our insurance portfolio.
The activities described above that make up our Active Ownership Strategy can be summarised using three terms: collaborative corporate dialogue, political engagement and exercise of voting rights. Within these three activities, we concentrate on certain focal issues to increase our impact and bundle our resources. These focus issues are reviewed on an annual basis, and adjusted where necessary:
For the purposes of our Active Ownership Strategy, we focus on the following aspects relating to the environment in order to select initiatives:
- Energy revolution
- Reduction of CO2 emissions
For the purposes of our Active Ownership Strategy, we focus on the following aspects relating to social affairs in order to select initiatives:
- Improvement of working conditions
- (Employee) diversity
For the purposes of our Active Ownership Strategy, we focus on the following aspects relating to governance in order to select initiatives:
Board of Directors and Executive Committee:
- Compensation of the Board of Directors
- Independence of the Board of Directors