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The Role of Collaborative Engagements Among Asset Managers

By Team Maanch  |  
February 12, 2024  |  
9 minutes read

Responsible Investing has become a cornerstone in modern asset management, where integrating Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) risks is a crucial factor in securing long-term financial returns. Asset managers globally are increasingly recognising the importance of ESG considerations in their investment strategies. These are driven by both stakeholder demands and the growing awareness of sustainability issues. This shift has spurred an increasing trend of collaborative engagements within the industry. Such collaborations, ranging from joint initiatives to shared ESG frameworks, are setting new standards in investment stewardship. Highlighting a collective commitment to creating a more sustainable and prosperous future for all.

Overview of the Data

Our dataset presents a detailed landscape of asset management firms: segmented by size, geographic location, and their active participation in a variety of key ESG initiatives. These initiatives, encompassing a wide range of environmental, social, and governance concerns, are as follows:

  1. Climate Action 100+: An investor-led initiative to ensure the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters take necessary action on climate change. 
  2. Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC): A network aiming to mobilise capital for the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy. 
  3. Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP): An organisation that supports companies and cities to disclose the environmental impact of major corporations. 
  4. Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative: A group of asset managers committed to supporting the goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner.
  5. Emerging Markets Investors Alliance: Focuses on promoting sustainable investment practices in emerging markets. 
  6. Task Force on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD): Works towards a framework for organisations to report and act on evolving nature-related risks. 
  7. 30% Club: Aims to achieve at least 30% female representation on boards and senior management of listed companies. 
  8. Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) Initiative: An investor network that raises awareness of the ESG risks and opportunities caused by intensive livestock production. 
  9. Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI): An investor initiative in partnership with UNEP Finance Initiative and UN Global Compact, promoting the incorporation of ESG factors into investment decision-making.
  10. International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN): Advocates for higher standards of corporate governance and investor stewardship to enhance long-term value creation. 
  11. UK Stewardship Code: This FRC Code sets high stewardship standards for those investing money on behalf of UK savers and pensioners, and those that support them.

Analysis of Collaborative Engagements

In the dynamic realm of asset management, the integration of ESG factors has transformed from an optional approach to a core strategy for managing risk and creating sustainable value. Our analysis, based on asset managers’ participation in various ESG initiatives, highlights significant trends and implications. We are providing an enriched overview with specific percentages and numbers for a more precise understanding.

The information provided in this table is for general informational purposes only. While efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the data, discrepancies may exist, and the information may not reflect the most current engagement levels or participation in ESG initiatives by the listed asset managers. This table should not be used as the sole basis for making investment decisions, nor should it be considered as investment advice. All data is subject to change and should be independently verified before being used for professional or commercial purposes.

Key Initiatives:

The data shows that out of 75 asset managers:

  • The majority (over 50%) participate in initiatives addressing climate change and environmental transparency. Both Climate Action 100+ (77.33%) and CDP (66.67%) being highly supported.

  • Social and governance initiatives like the 30% Club (34.67%) and UK Stewardship Code (60%) indicate significant but varied engagement.

  • All asset managers (100%) are involved with the Principles for Responsible Investment, signalling a strong consensus on the importance of responsible investment practices.

  • Fewer asset managers are engaged with initiatives focused on emerging markets (6.67%) and nature-related financial disclosures (14.67%). This showcases potential areas for growth.

This summary reflects the asset management industry’s commitment to various ESG aspects, with climate-related initiatives receiving the most attention.

  • Among larger asset managers, the data indicates a prioritisation of environmental initiatives. With 76.67% participating in Climate Action 100+ and CDP. This emphasises a strategic focus on climate change mitigation and transparency. 

  • Social and governance aspects are also represented, with 50% supporting gender diversity through the 30% Club and 70% adhering to the UK Stewardship Code. This highlights a commitment to broader ESG principles. 

  • However, lower participation in initiatives like the Emerging Markets Investors Alliance (16.67%) and TFND (20%) suggests opportunities for increased focus on sustainable practices in emerging markets and nature-related financial risks. 

  • Notably, all larger asset managers (100%) participate in PRI, showing a universal commitment to responsible investment.

  • Canadian asset managers vary in ESG initiative engagement, with larger firms typically more involved than smaller firms.

  • European asset managers, especially larger ones, particularly demonstrate a higher rate of participation. With some showing nearly full engagement in ESG initiatives.

  • The UK exhibits robust ESG participation across asset managers of all sizes, with larger firms often leading in engagement. Thus, the diversity in participation suggests a strong overall commitment to ESG, yet with room for growth in smaller firms.

  • U.S. asset managers show a broad range of ESG engagement, with large firms displaying both high and low levels of participation. However, smaller U.S. firms generally show moderate engagement.

  • Overall, larger asset managers across all regions tend to be more engaged in ESG initiatives than smaller firms, with the UK notably active in ESG participation. All the data highlights a positive trend towards ESG involvement, particularly in areas of climate action and corporate governance. There remains varying levels of commitment to social initiatives.

Importance of Collaborative Engagements:

Collaborative engagements play a pivotal role in the ESG landscape, offering multiple benefits to asset managers, their clients, investee companies & the wider community:

Mitigating ESG Risks:

Joint efforts lead to a deeper understanding of ESG risks and more effective strategies to address them. Collaborations, such as Climate Action 100+, enable asset managers to pool resources and expertise, enhancing their ability to influence corporate behaviour on critical issues.

Benefits to Asset Managers and Clients:

  • Collaborations increase the influence and reach of individual asset managers, amplifying their impact on investee companies.

  • Clients of asset managers benefit from more sustainable investment portfolios and potentially better long-term returns due to improved risk management.
Advantages for Investee Companies:

  • Companies receive clear, consolidated messages about investor expectations on ESG issues which leads to more focused and effective responses.

  • Collaborative engagements can provide companies with access to a broader range of investor perspectives and expertise, aiding in their sustainability journey.
Impact on the Wider Community:
  • Collective investor actions contribute to broader societal benefits, such as reduced environmental impact and improved social standards.

  • Collaborations help in setting industry-wide benchmarks and best practices, promoting a shift towards a more sustainable and equitable global economy.

Challenges of Collaborative Engagements

While collaborative engagements in ESG investing offer significant benefits, they also present unique challenges:

  • Alignment of Interests: Aligning the diverse objectives and investment philosophies of multiple participants can be complex and time-consuming.

  • Effective Communication: Ensuring clear and consistent communication among a large group of stakeholders is challenging, especially across different geographies and time zones.

  • Decision-Making Efficiency: Collaborative efforts can sometimes slow down decision-making processes due to the need for consensus among all parties.

  • Measuring Impact: Quantifying the direct impact of collaborative engagements on ESG outcomes can be difficult. Making it challenging to assess the true effectiveness of these initiatives.

  • Long-Term Commitment: Sustaining engagement over the long term requires continuous commitment, resources, and effort, which can be demanding for all parties involved.

Leveraging Technology for Collaborative Engagements

Technology serves as a powerful catalyst in maximising the efficacy of collaborative engagements. 

By leveraging sophisticated engagement tracking systems, asset managers can monitor interactions with investee companies in real-time. Ensuring that key sustainability goals are pursued diligently. Such platforms provide a centralised dashboard, offering a holistic view of engagement activities and progress.

Furthermore, the adoption of standardised metrics facilitated by technology allows for the quantification of ESG impacts. This standardisation is crucial for asset managers to measure, compare, and communicate the outcomes of their initiatives effectively.

Automation technology plays a pivotal role in streamlining ESG processes, from data collection to reporting. By automating these routine tasks, asset managers can focus on strategic decision-making, while also ensuring data accuracy and consistency.

Lastly, machine learning algorithms are instrumental in dissecting vast datasets to unearth trends and insights. Indeed, this advanced learning aids asset managers in refining their engagement strategies and aligning them with the broader objectives of sustainability and long-term value creation.

In essence, technology not only amplifies the efficiency of collaborative engagements but also enhances their strategic impact in the realm of responsible investing.

Conclusion and Future Outlook

Collaborative engagements are transforming asset management, with ESG considerations becoming integral to risk management and long-term value creation. European and North American firms are leading the way, setting a precedent for global sustainable investment practices. These collective efforts are not only mitigating ESG risks but also yielding enhanced returns and bolstering reputations, setting a new standard in investment stewardship. 

Asset managers will likely see a shift towards more sophisticated, data-driven engagement strategies, facilitating greater transparency and impact. As regulatory demands and stakeholder expectations evolve, the intersection of collective investor action and advanced technology will become increasingly vital. This will help drive efficiency and scalability in these engagements. As such, we anticipate a surge in the adoption of digital tools that track engagement, automate reporting, and harness analytics for deeper ESG integration. 

Asset managers are at a crossroads. The path towards sustainable investing is clear, and the tools to engage collaboratively are more accessible than ever. To see how Maanch can support your journey towards impactful collaborative engagements, book a demo today.

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