InFocus: Sycomore AM & FIR

 

Who?

Sycomore AM is a Paris-based asset manager owned by its founding partners and employees. Created in 2001 just like the French SIF, it now manages 5 billion euros of assets for institutional clients (private and public pension funds, insurance companies, banks…) and distribution partners (independent financial advisers, fund distribution platforms…) across Europe.

When it comes to Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI), Sycomore AM has its own sustainability framework, SPICE. The S stands for suppliers, society and states, P for people, I for investors, which includes corporate governance, C for clients and E for the environment.

Bertille Knuckey is the Head of Sustainable & Responsible Investment & Portfolio Manager at Sycomore AM. Here she tells us  a little bit more about becoming a member of FIR.

When?

Sycomore AM only recently became a full-time member of the French SIF in 2016. Although prior to joining, we had taken an active part in several of the FIR’s activities for a number of years, including sponsoring the FIR-PRI European Research Awards since 2010 to advance academic research in finance and sustainability.

Why?

For the past fifteen years, the FIR has always been at the forefront of responsible investment (RI) in France. It has offered advice, made material recommendations and even voiced concerns when necessary to both French and European political leaders to ensure more sustainable paths; it has infallibly sponsored academic research for over ten years; and it has enabled a community of like-minded individuals and organisations to come together to demonstrate that sustainability and responsibility are not incompatible with the world of finance.

When I joined Sycomore AM in 2015, I made it a priority to become a full-time member of the network. The FIR is a major player in the RI field and offers a neutral ground for investors, big and small, to share and discuss ideas in a transparent way. This enables independent RI-oriented organisations such as Sycomore AM to have a stronger voice in the investment debate.

Our values at Sycomore AM can be summarised in these three words: “human is capital”. We strongly believe that the French SIF shares these values and it was therefore a natural choice for us to become an official member of the organisation.

What?

At Sycomore AM, we strive for continuous innovation. So does the FIR. Not only is it very active on Twitter (go check @FIR_FrenchSIF!) but it also organises friendly in-person meetings to discuss disruptive ideas and initiatives. The last breakfast meeting gathered professionals and academics from Marseilles to discuss the role of ethics in RI while the one before had us brainstorming around the great initiative of one of the members which consists in assessing all of its financial intermediaries on environmental, social and governance criteria. A first!

The added value of joining the FIR also lies in the fact that it takes clear and informed positions on legal and political developments at national and European levels. The recent work on Article 173-VI of the French law on energy transition is proof of that. If you have not done so yet, I really encourage you to have a look at the handbook published by the FIR a couple of months ago (get it here). Hopefully, political developments in France around ESG and climate change will not hold any secrets for you after that!

Last but not least, the FIR has remained true to its longstanding belief that education is key to shaping tomorrow’s investment leaders as demonstrated by its continued effort to run the FIR-PRI European Research Awards, which we have sponsored for the past five years. Of course, this initiative was made possible thanks to the support of dedicated individuals who for years have been reviewing, annotating and rewarding the best academic papers presented to them. Many thanks to all those involved! Sustainability and responsibility have more chance of becoming an integral part of investment decision-making in Europe thanks to you.

Now although I refer to the French SIF as “it”, there are obviously special individuals without whom the organisation would not be as resourceful. Those are Thierry, Grégoire, Minh, the members of the Board and of course all the active members of the organisation.

 

 

SIF

Created in 2001, FIR, the French SIF, organises its activities through committees, working groups and member consultations with its 70+ members.

FIR’s main activities are:

  • Advocacy (position papers, commitment to CSR platform linked to Prime Minister…),
  • Responsible Investment promotion targeting retail investors (the annual Responsible Finance WeekPublic SRI Label communication along with French Asset Manager Association and Ministry of Finance),
  • Supporting academic research with European Awards “Finance and Sustainability” in 4 categories, plus a significant PhD Grant,
  • Engaging with companies through the CorDial (Corporate Dialogue) platform.

FIR also organises breakfasts and meetings with other stakeholders and intends to focus these meetings around Sustainable Development Goals.

FIR has recently taken 3 positions in favour of French regulation on ESG topics:  AGM Binding vote on executive’s remuneration (Sapin 2 Law), Reporting on indirect emissions (scope 3) for corporates (decree of article 173-4 ecologic transition law) and mandatory vigilance plan over supply chain for large companies (Member of Parliament Law proposition).

French SIF also recently published a guidebook on article 173-VI, mandatory reporting for investor on climate and ESG policies, available in both English and French.

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