Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your role at BNP Paribas Asset Management (BNPP AM)?

MY MISSION WAS TO TURN BNPP AM’S AMBITIOUS
SUSTAINABILITY AGENDA INTO AN ACTIONABLE REALITY

I joined BNPP AM in August 2018 as Global Head of Sustainability, overseeing the Sustainability Centre1, with the objective of turning BNPP AM’s ambitious sustainability agenda into an actionable reality. I’m a member of BNPP AM’s Global Investment and Business Management Committees, and the BNPP AM France Board of Directors as well as the Task Force on Climate- related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), an important global framework for company reporting on the governance and management of climate-related risks and opportunities. Together with the BNP Paribas Group, we have played an important role in the promotion and dissemination of the TCFD recommendations.

MY MISSION WAS TO TURN BNPP AM’S AMBITIOUS
SUSTAINABILITY AGENDA INTO AN ACTIONABLE REALITY



Why did you choose to join BNPP AM?

I joined BNPP AM because of its ambition to be a leader in sustainable investment, and effect change through dialogue and engagement with the companies and markets in which we invest. And I have not been disappointed. Coming from the consulting industry - I was previously Partner and Chair of Responsible Investment at Mercer - I was humbled by this new challenge. It's no longer just about providing the client with a sustainability strategy, but about identifying and addressing all the challenges that go along with its implementation. And it's all about persuasion. There is no point in being authoritarian. Personally, I don't eat meat, but that doesn't mean that my children should automatically become vegetarians. Letting them make their own choices gives them independence and a critical eye.

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How do you bring long-term sustainable investment returns to our clients?

BNPP AM RANKED SECOND OUT OF THE 75 LARGEST ASSET MANAGERS
FOR ITS RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT APPROACH

We are witnessing a sustainability shift in our industry: we have gone from a stage where asset managers had to explain why they put so much emphasis on sustainable investment to a point where managers now have to justify why they don't put more emphasis on it. For my part, I believe that if we don't adopt a sustainable approach, long-term results will suffer. That’s why we launched our Global Sustainability Strategy (GSS), a truly unique programme that sets out a plan to integrate sustainability and ESG (environment, social and governance) considerations into BNPP AM's asset management processes. In ShareAction’s ‘Point of No Returns’ report (March 2020)2, BNPP AM ranked second out of 75 of the world’s largest asset managers for its approach to responsible investment. Since I joined in August 2018, we have revamped our proprietary ESG scoring model, which now covers more than 12,000 issuers (compared to 3000 previously).

BNPP AM RANKED SECOND OUT OF THE 75 LARGEST ASSET MANAGERS
FOR ITS RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT APPROACH

What does sustainable investment mean for BNPP AM?

We define sustainable investment as including four key principles:

  1. ESG integration: a process that is guided by formal ESG Integration Guidelines. As of 2019, almost 300 investment strategies and 1000 products covering all the assets in the scope were reviewed by an ESG Validation Committee, which we set up to ensure our Guidelines were implemented in a thorough and effective manner. We have been able to categorise 80% of our open-ended fund range as ‘Sustainable’ in the framework of Europe’s new Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR)3;

  2. Stewardship: we are thoughtful and diligent investors in companies, and have detailed proxy-voting guidelines on a range of ESG issues. We believe that meaningful engagement can enhance our investment processes and better enable us to successfully manage long-term risk for our clients. In 2020, we voted at 1,870 shareholder meetings general meetings, and against or abstained on at least one item at 80% of these meetings – a reflection of our independent views. We also engaged with 140 companies on voting issues;

  3. Setting Expectations for Companies: our responsible business conduct policy outlines our expectations for companies to meet their fundamental obligations in the areas of human and labour rights, protecting the environment and ensuring anti-corruption safeguards, wherever they operate, in line with the UN Global Compact Principles. We also have a wide range of sector policies covering areas such as coal, tobacco, and unconventional oil & gas, on which we work in collaboration with BNP Paribas Group;

  4. Being a Future Maker: we have a unique ‘forward looking focus’, focused on three key issues underpinning a sustainable economic future: energy transition, environmental sustainability and equality and inclusive growth (the “3Es”). These themes guide our strategic research and stewardship agenda, and inspire the development of new thematic funds.

IN 2020
WE ENGAGED WITH
140 COMPANIES
ON VOTING ISSUES

Our Global Sustainability Strategy sets out the rationale behind our sustainable investment approach, along with a series of commitments – ranging from engagement targets to specific performance indicators – that BNPP AM will measure and report on, such as its carbon, water and forest footprints. Within our energy transition approach, a key focus is the carbon intensity of our investments to meet BNPP AM’s target of aligning with the Paris Agreement, including a heightened focus on exiting coal. In terms of equality, we encourage companies to provide greater opportunities for women and minorities, at all levels of the organisation and to adopt more equitable and transparent remuneration policies, including tax strategies that ensure that wealth is distributed more fairly across the value chain. On the topic of gender parity, our proxy voting policy sets a baseline expectation that boards of directors should be 30% female in developed markets, and 15% in emerging markets. This sends a direct signal that we are unhappy with companies that can’t demonstrate minimum levels of diversity at the board level.

IN 2020
WE ENGAGED WITH
140 COMPANIES
ON VOTING ISSUES

Can we help shape a better world by investing sustainably?

Yes. I am convinced that if the finance sector takes better account of social and environmental externalities, we will protect our bottom lines, while making the world a better place and the global economy more sustainable. That’s why we look forward to working with our clients to meet the challenges of tomorrow today – strengthening our knowledge as an investor and contributing to a more secure economic future.

OUR PROXY VOTING POLICY BASELINE
IS THAT BOARDS OF DIRECTORS SHOULD
BE 30% FEMALE

1 In 2017, we created the Sustainability Centre, which is now a 25-person, multi-disciplinary expert group which provides investment teams with sustainability research, analysis and data. The Sustainability Centre also supports teams in developing sustainability-themed products and fully integrating sustainability-related risks and opportunities into investment strategies.
2 Point of no Returns: Asset managers' approach to responsible investment (shareaction.org)
3 As defined by Article 8 or Article 9 of the SFDR regulation.

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