ESG Investment Strategy
ESG: sustainability criteria and methodology relating to the SUNARES Fund
SUNARES is a fund with environmental and/or social characteristics (Art. 8 Regulation (EU) 2019/2088, Disclosure Regulation)
The SUNARES Fund advisory teams use various data sources to assess the rating of potential new investments and existing investments held in the Fund. From the vast amount of data available from various data providers, the criteria that are most important to the fund advisors are summarised, evaluated and compared for existing investments and new potential investments. It is important for investors to understand that we use both our own internal analysis and that of external data providers.
One such external data provider used by the Fund's advisers is SUSTAINALYTICS (www.sustainalytics.com) which uses a rules-based methodology to calculate an overall ESG risk rating per company. ESG refers to the consideration of environmental, social and governance criteria. To help investors interpret a company's rating, five risk categories have been created to indicate the degree of ESG risk in relation to a company's enterprise value:
(1) Immaterial (Negligible)
(3) Average (Medium)
The fund advisors also take into account the ESG risk of a company’s overall business model. This assessment of a company’s business model ESG comprises 3 categories:
(2) Average (Medium)
(3) High (High)
This ESG risk assessment of the company's business model is followed by an assessment of a company's management in how effective they are in managing the relevant ESG issues of the company. The management score assesses the robustness of a company's ESG programmes, practices and policies through three scoring categories:
(1) Compelling (Strong)
(2) Average (Medium)
Finally, the various ESG topic areas in which the company faces specific challenges are analysed and evaluated for each company. Here are some examples:
1. Corporate Governance (Business Ethics Incidents)
2. Use of Resources
3. Community Relations (Society & Community Incidents)
4. Carbon Emissions - Own Operations
5. Water Use (Operation Incidents)
6. Land Use and Biodiversity - Supply Chain (Environmental Incidents)
7. Emissions, Effluents and Waste
8. Occupational Health and Safety
9. Labour Relations (Employee Incidents)
10. Customer Incidents (Anti-competitive practices)
11. Human Rights - Supply Chain
The overall Sustainalytics scores are recorded, evaluated and summarised in an overall score per company. A 'best-in-class' approach is then used to rank which companies represent the top leaders in ESG. In addition, we want to weed out companies that indicate serious ESG risk and whose management have responded poorly to ESG with weak and insufficient policies and practices. We also emphasise transparency and clear, accountable governance structures. We pay particular attention to the extent to which a company demonstrates alignment with the interests of long-term investors.
In addition to Sustainalytics, MSCI ESG Ratings are also used in order to have additional independent information and data available concerning ESG and sustainability. MSCI is taking a leading role in promoting ESG transparency to raise awareness of the value of ESG data and ratings and to improve disclosure standards. The public ESG ratings search tool allows users to search for over 2,800 companies that are components of the MSCI ACWI Index.
MSCI assigns an ESG rating in seven different categories, ranging from:
1. AAA LEADER
2. AA LEADER
3. A AVERAGE
4. BBB AVERAGE
5. BB AVERAGE
6. B LAGGARD
7. CCC LAGGARD
In addition, MSCI also shows the distribution of the specific companies in their industry/sector in the 7 different MSCI ESG categories, to gain an overall view of the percentage distribution of a specific industry in the ESG area.
In addition to this sector distribution, there is also a time-historical graph of how the company has performed (ESG rating) over the last 5 years. Preference is given here to those companies that can demonstrate a clear and distinct tendency to improve their ESG rating over the course of the last few years.
MSCI ESG Rating Example: Rio Tinto plc. as of 04.03.2021
In addition, the most important ESG issues that are relevant to the specific industry are also assessed and analysed, e.g. for Rio Tinto this would be the industry: metals and mining - not precious metals.
This examines how the company compares to its industry peers. An overview page of the company's ESG rating shows on which ESG issues the company is an ESG leader (LEADER), average (Average), or lags behind the industry (LAGGARD) compared to its industry:
In addition to these two ESG rating companies Sustainalytics and MSCI, Bloomberg is also used as a third information and data provider for the overall analysis and assessment of ESG risks and ratings. From all three of these different data providers, an overall score is used to calculate and determine the 'Best' and 'Worst' in Class per sector.
Subsequently, the best-in-class companies are approved for investment as ESG leaders or ESG averages, or not, if the company is among the worst-in-class. In addition, the companies and their management teams in which the fund is invested, are continuously reviewed for their ESG rating developments and monitored to ensure that they still meet the requirements of the SUNARES fund.
We want to invest in companies that have a good management team and incorporate and actually implement 'live' ESG and sustainability issues in their corporate philosophy. It is well known that good management and sound, sustainable governance influences long-term performance. Past successes can often be repeated by capable management, whereas poor governance often leads to a lack of focus on ESG factors, which in turn results in poor company performance.
It is well established that ESG factors influence returns over the long term. Furthermore, it is central to our philosophy to include climate change objectives, as the planet will not be viable in the long term if we do not sustainably and permanently reduce carbon emissions.
Exclusions from the SUNARES Fund:
• Conventional car and vehicle producers
• Financial industry exposure (banks, insurance companies, brokers, general financial companies) and excluding the use of derivatives
• Telecommunications companies
• The armament and defence industry
• Adult entertainment & pornography
• Tobacco & addictive substances (& unhealthy food) if share exceeds 15% of total turnover
• Conventional energy and electricity producers if turnover exceeds:
o 25% of total turnover for coal
o 30% of total turnover for natural gas
o 30% of total turnover is for uranium/ nuclear energy