Enhanced corporate transparency has been dominating the European agenda in this first quarter of 2016.
Back in March Member States had reached a political agreement on the automatic exchange of tax-related financial information of multinational companies, Country by Country Reporting (CbCR), still subject to UK parliamentary scrutiny. The rules apply to multinational companies that operate cross-border in the EU to allow all Member States to directly address companies that try to escape their share of taxes where they make their profits. Later on, soon after the ECON Committee was discussing its draft report on tax avoidance practices, the Panama Paper leaks unveiled a new tax-related scandal that reminded all of us of the recent and ground-braking Luxemburg Leak revelations; adding further pressure on European policy makers to take their responsibilities for adequately addressing the issues at stake. On the 12th of April, as announced, and not without controversy, the European Commission presented a proposal for introducing public reporting requirements for the largest companies operating in the EU. Eurosif supported the draft directive as a valid mean to enhance shareholders’ engagement and trust allowing to better identify share prices risk, safer investment and efficient pricing of companies. Our community of investors looks at this tool as a way to gain a useful source of information to assess companies’ approaches to tax management and the associated long-term risks that this might bring.
These past months have also been rich with Commission consultations focused on corporate transparency explored as a mean to increase investment. The first consultation of the year was on ‘Long-term and sustainable investment’, specifically seeking to identify which potential obstacles to sustainable investment are most relevant and recurrent in the investment chain.
The second most relevant consultation this year was looking specifically at reporting. The consultation on non-financial reporting guidelines aimed at gathering evidence to propose or advise on a set of non-binding guidance on methodology for reporting of non-financial information by certain large companies across all sectors. It follows article 2 of Directive 2014/95/EU on disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large undertakings and groups.
This need for transparency echoes a renewed appetite for better risk management not only for individual issuers but also on a more high-level basis. IMF’s Financial Sector Expert Ashraf Khan, a former official at the Dutch central bank, published in February a working paper calling ‘for non-financial risks to be incorporated into the way central banks are run’. By stressing the importance for central banks to incorporate non-financial risk management into their strategic planning and governance framework, the paper confirms the objectives of the Task Force on Climate Related financial disclosure. Established by the Financial Stability Board (FSB) to promote ‘more effective climate-related disclosures able to support informed investment, credit and insurance underwriting decision about reporting companies’ while enabling stakeholders at large to estimate the financial system’s exposure to climate-related risk, the Task Force is currently working on a consultation solely focused on improving disclosure and increased stakeholder outreach.
Encouraged by all these positive signals for our community of investors, we look forward to beneficial results in the next months to come. Enjoy your reading!
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Your chance to sponsor the 7th edition of the Eurosif European SRI Study!
Unique in its kind, the Eurosif Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI) Study is the benchmark report on the European SRI market. The study is one of the few sources detailing the European SRI market. Findings from the SRI studies are regularly quoted and used in research papers, in various forums and international bodies, as well as by Eurosif member affiliates. The media regularly quote the results of the SRI studies. Thought leaders from asset owners and managers, pension funds, European institutions and companies alike regularly refer to the findings.
The publication of Eurosif’s report and press releases, as well as the resulting press attention will facilitate the expansion of SRI in Europe and help promote awareness of SRI amongst investment professionals, asset owners, shareholder representatives and policy makers.
You are invited to be part of this exciting study and actively contribute to the success of the 7th edition of the European SRI Market Study.
Contact: Eurosif Executive Director, Flavia MICILOTTA - email@example.com
Country-By-Country Reporting / Corporate tax transparency
On the 12 of April the European Commission published its proposal on disclosure of income tax information by multinational corporations, after having conducted its impact assessment. Although not immediately obvious, the issue of corporate taxation features high on the agenda of the investors’ community, particularly of those long-term focused investors, represented at Eurosif.
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Consultation on non-financial reporting guidelines
The European Commission seeking to collect views on non-binding guidance on methodology for reporting of non-financial information by large companies launched in January a public consultation so as to be able to provide further guidance and help companies implement provisions laid out in several EU, OECD and UN-based frameworks.
Eurosif, the leading European association for the promotion and advancement of sustainable and responsible investment across Europe, representing long-term investors that bring together expertise in reporting of non-financial information, has provided its feedback to the regulator stressing in particular:
- Non-financial information should focus on the material aspects for a company, representing a true and fair account of the way it does business and interacts with different stakeholders.
- The guidelines should determine the main issues that are material for companies and investors, and set specific minimum reporting requirements based on reporting standards that companies are already using.
- Company KPIs and other reporting requirements should be accompanied by disclosure of metrics, targets and objectives both quantitative and qualitative and they should be directly correlated to the triple bottom line.
Commission consultation on long-term and sustainable investment
On the 18th of December 2015 the European Commission launched a public consultation on long-term and sustainable investment .This consultation seeks to gather information on how institutional investors, asset managers and other service providers in the investment chain factor in sustainability (ESG) information and performance of companies or assets into investment decisions. Eurosif gave its input on the consultation stressing the importance of key strategic points, such as:
- Integrating ESG criteria in investment decisions guarantees an holistic view of companies’performance, helping to mitigate risks and identify investment opportunities, very much in line with the concept of fiduciary duty.
- The increasing need for investors to rely on material ESG data based on reliable and harmonised reporting guidelineswhich take investors’needs into account
- More transparency is needed for and from the players in the industry in order to make the right connections between investors’needs and issuers’ interests
Eurosif Member News
Sustainable finance at the Italian asset management exhibition
For the first time since the launch of the initiative, the Italian asset management exhibition “Salone del Risparmio - promoted by Assogestioni - hosted eight conferences and one training session on SRI and impact investment. This is a clear sign of interest from the Italian industry towards sustainable finance.
See full programme: http://www.salonedelrisparmio.com/programma
How to evaluate sustainable investment: the new Morningstar Sustainability Rating
The second SRI Breakfast promoted by FFS for 2016 explore dthe methodology of the new Sustainability Rating recently launched by Morningstar. The meeting – was held on April 19th in Milan - and identified the major opportunities linked to the Rating for investors, companies and asset managers. More info available on www.finanzasostenibile.it
Investors’ workbook on Energy Transition Law
French SIF has launched a working group with around 30 members in order to produce an investors’ workbook on the article 173 of the French Law for Energy Transition and Green Growth, The article requires institutional investors to report on ESG practices, on their contribution to energy transition and on their exposure to climate-related risks, by measuring portfolios’ carbon footprint and explaining their contribution to climate and energy policy goals.
This workbook will help investors who are not yet well advanced on those topics to understand the spirit of the article. The workbook is scheduled for release before the summer break this year and will be translated in English for European dissemination.
French Government announces EETC label auditors
The Ministry of the Environment, Energy and the Sea has chosen Novethic and Ernst & Young as auditors of the Energy and Ecological Transition for the Climate (EETC) label. First labelled funds will be known in the coming months.
Latest news from French SIF: www.frenchsif.org
Passing of Manuel Doméon
It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Manuel Doméon at the age of 57. Manuel had carried and developed SRI at Edmond de Rothschild Asset Management where he was Manager for many years. He was appreciated for his work and his professionalism as well as his kindness and his caring.
Application period for the FNG Label has started
FNG, the Sustainable Investment Forum for Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, awarded its label for sustainable mutual funds for the first time in December 2015. A total of 35 funds have the FNG Label for 2016. Interested parties can now apply for the FNG Label 2017. The application period started last week and ends on June 20, 2016. Sustainable mutual funds licensed for distribution in at least one of the above mentioned German speaking countries are cordially invited to attend. Like last year, a complete application includes the FNG sustainability profile, the European Transparency Code and the completed questionnaire.The label methodology consists of minimum requirements – the exclusion of weapons and armaments, nuclear energy and the four areas of the UN Global Compact – and a grade model with the components institutional credibility, product standards and impact (selection and dialogue strategy and ESG key performance indicators).Please find further information here (in German) and here (in English) or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FNG Sustainable Investment Market Report to be published on May 11
The Sustainable Investment Market Report – Germany, Austria and Switzerland is FNG’s central yearly publication. It serves industry insiders, journalists, scholars, and politicians as a source of up to date market data. Besides volume figures, which are already collected since 2005, the market report provides a wide range of supplementary data and information, which allow deriving current trends and developments. FNG looks forward to the report’s 2016 edition which will be presented to the public at the FNG Dialogue on May 11, 2016 .
VBDO Engagement with listed companies
The VBDO engages Dutch Listed companies yearly about their sustainability performance, both by asking questions in writing and during AGM’s. This year VBDO addresses the most material social, economic, environmental and governance sustainability issues including greenhouse gas emissions, employee diversity, integrating externalities, OECD Guidelines and human rights commitment.
The three priority themes this year are:
- Social supply chain management
- natural capital and
- responsible taxation.
For more information please contact Ingmar Schuurman.
Spainsif and the Ministry of Employment and Social Security sign cooperation agreement
On the 11th of April, Spainsif and the Spanish Ministry of Employment and Social Security signed a cooperation agreement aiming to launch joint actions in the context of the 2014-2020 Spanish National CSR Strategy. This Strategy lays out plans to educate financial analysts and investors to ESG criteria required to ensure essential business competitiveness.
For more information: http://www.spainsif.es/node/1597
Interview with Sébastien Senegas. Head of Spain, Edmond de Rothschild AM
During the latest Spainsif SRI workshop Sébastien Senegas gave an interview pointing out that: "ESG analysis allows us to consider a company as a whole."
Read the interview in EN: http://www.spainsif.es/node/1596
Overwhelming interest for Swesif’s ESG Profile
In 2013 the ESG Profile (“Hållbarhetsprofilen”) was developed by Swesif together with its member companies. The ESG Profile is a standardized information leaflet describing the fund's work on ethics and sustainability issues, and is a supplement to the financial fund fact sheets. The ESG profile is aimed at fund investors and others, and its purpose is to provide clear and easy access to information on how funds apply various sustainability criteria in their fund management. The ESG profile also makes it easier for investors to compare funds that apply sustainability criteria with each other.In May 2015 Swesif launched the ESG profile on the private market in Sweden. After eleven months, 36 fund companies have already joined and today more than 640 funds are reporting their sustainability efforts on www.hallbarhetsprofilen.se.
"We had high hopes that the fund companies in the private market would embrace the ESG Profile, but this impact surpasses anything we could imagine", says Johan Florén, Chairman of Swesif.
Since the launch on the private market Swesif has initiated a new project to develop the ESG Profile further, with the aim of raising awareness among savers and improve the ability to compare different funds.As a consequence of Swesif’s impact on the sustainability arena during 2015, Johan Florén was recently appointed as one of Sweden’s most influential sustainability professionals.Find more information about the ESG Profile here.
UKSIF produces trustee guide to help resolve ESG investment and fiduciary duty misconceptions
The Ownership Day 2016 (22 March) saw the launch of UKSIF’s new guide featuring:
- The latest thinking on fiduciary duty in the light of recent Law Commission developments and the McCall Opinion on fiduciary duty for charities.
- How the latest thinking on fiduciary duty particularly applies to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and responsible investment?
- A look at current policy and sector activity in this area.
- Simple tips for best practice.
Guide is here. Ownership day website here.
UK finance met in Edinburgh, Scotland to discuss ESG investment issues such as high pay & protecting world heritage sites
In the run up to the Brexit vote, and in the wake of the Panama Papers leak, this one day conference included a Scottish election hustings where candidates gave thoughts on responsible investment and finance.
Also, rating agencies MSCI and Morningstar made their first public appearance together to debate their new sustainable investment fund ratings.
Click here for more information.
National SIF Calendar
10/05 Common FNG and SSF event in Zurich
11/05 FNG Dialogue in BerlinItalian Sustainable Investment Forum: Welfare and Sustainable Investment
19/05 Swesif Annual General Meeting
26/09 - 02/10 FrenchSif - 7th SRI Week
30/10 - 05/11 UKSIF: Good Money Week
oikos Young Scholars Finance Academy 2016
oikos and the Henley Centre for Governance, Accountability, and Responsible Investment (GARI) will convene the sixth oikos Young Scholars Finance Academy from September 11 to 15, 2016, in Reading, United Kingdom.The academy provides a unique platform for exceptional PhD and post-doctoral researchers in the field of finance and sustainability to advance their research and expand their international research relations. Participants will benefit from presenting and discussing their work in progress with leading academics and professionals who will provide feedback and share advice on the research presented and academic career development. The event includes a practitioner day, a paper development workshop, coaching on professional development, and recreational outdoor excursions.
Responsible Investment in Europe: A multi-stakeholder conference hosted by ShareAction
On 9 & 10 June ShareAction is launching its new European Responsible Investment Network (ERIN), a new network of civil society organisations in Europe that are working towards sustainable capital markets. The core aim of the conference is to explore how civil society, the investment industry and policy actors can work together effectively to progress Responsible Investment and the low carbon transition in Europe. A range of exciting speakers are confirmed, including David Pitt-Watson, Chair of the UNEP Finance Initiative, Claudia Kruse, Managing Director Sustainability & Corporate Governance at APG, Jeroen Hooijer from the European Commission and Jochen Wermuth, Founder and CIO, Wermuth Asset Management. Register your free place here.
European Corporate Governance Conference: The next steps in Corporate Social Responsibility in the Boardroom
In line with ‘Disruptive Thoughts, Entrepreneurial Action!’ a variety of international Thought leaders such as Peter Bakker (President World Business Council for Sustainable Development) and a selection of entrepreneurs will provide you with all the future proof lessons learned. This conference is organized by the NCD (the Netherlands association of Corporate Directors) in collaboration with ecoDa and the European Commission. The European Presidency of the Netherlands is an ideal moment to look ahead with European directors and supervisory board members and anticipate; what do the changes and the shift towards Corporate Social Entrepreneurship mean for the future of supervision and leadership.
About Eurosif Eurosif – The European Sustainable Investment Forum is the leading European sustainable and responsible investment (SRI) membership organisation whose mission is to promote sustainability through European financial markets. A partnership of national Sustainable Investment Fora (SIFs) across Europe, Eurosif draws from a pool of over 400 organisations and some of the main stakeholders within the sustainable investment industry. These organisations include institutional investors, asset managers, financial services, index providers and ESG research and analysis firms totalling over €8 trillion in assets. Eurosif is also a founding member of the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, the alliance of the largest SIFs around the world. The main activities of Eurosif are public policy, research and creating platforms for nurturing sustainable investing best practices.
Eurosif’s EU Transparency registration number with the European Commission is 70659452143-78.