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

OUR FIRST SRI FUND
WAS LAUNCHED IN 2002

I’m an SRI (Socially Responsible Investment) portfolio manager in BNPP AM’s European Large Cap Equities team, based in Paris. I manage our SRI best-in-class funds, one of which is the first SRI fund that our company launched – all the way back in 2002. The best in class strategies I manage represent around EUR 3billion. My job is to invest in companies that not only have a good financial profile, but that also have excellent Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) characteristics.

OUR FIRST SRI FUND
WAS LAUNCHED IN 2002



How did you get involved in sustainability in your professional life?

The energy transition theme took centre stage in my career early on. It goes back to 2000 when the German government launched its renewable energy resources act, which defined a feed-in tariff for the electricity generated from renewable sources. As a consequence, a lot of solar and wind power companies listed on the German Stock Exchange, and utilities companies were forced to reconsider their strategies because there was lots of hype around solar and wind power. This had big implications for me because at the time I was a sell-side analyst at a German bank, covering utilities and renewable energy companies. I studied what was going on in depth as part of my job and it really opened my eyes to how the future was going to be.

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interview

Do you get involved in sustainability initiatives on a personal level?

When I moved to Paris from Germany ten years ago, I went to the supermarket and asked the cashier where the sorting point to deposit my empty plastic bottles was. He said that I should just put them in the bin outside. I thought this was outrageous! That’s because we’d been collecting and recycling plastics in Germany for years. As the situation has still not changed, and to help, I’ve decided to get involved in a local think tank that proposes solutions to environmental problems. The best ideas will be enacted at the city and regional levels. I’m currently working on a proposal that I’m planning on putting forward.

Has your job changed over the years?

WE RECENTLY ENHANCED
OUR ESG SCORING
METHODOLOGY FOR MORE
THAN 12,000 SECURITIES

When I started at BNPP AM in 2007, companies didn’t know what we wanted to learn from them when we talked about ESG. They were not aware of what, for example, their water consumption was, and they didn’t understand why they should hire people to care about these things and give us this kind of information. Of course, that’s all changed now. Similarly, most investors were much less aware of ESG issues than they are today. But some were, including some of our insurance clients, which are very sophisticated investors with long-term horizons. We’ve kept them informed and they’ve shared their knowledge with us as we developed our ESG understanding, our structure, the way we rate companies.
Today, clients are very aware of sustainability issues – especially climate change – and they’re willing to integrate these issues into their investment decisions. And many clients no longer just want mainstream SRI they want innovative, ambitious ESG strategies tailored to their individual needs. Examples include portfolios designed to help meet the Paris Agreement goals on climate change. At BNPP AM, we’re well placed to help them.

WE RECENTLY ENHANCED
OUR ESG SCORING
METHODOLOGY FOR MORE
THAN 12,000 SECURITIES

Why do you think BNPP AM is at the forefront of sustainability investing?

There are many reasons. One is that we’ve had a long history investing sustainably, which has given us a first-mover advantage. Another is that we were in the right place at the right time – we decided to significantly increase our sustainability capabilities by investing massively in our Sustainability Centre1 in 2018, before Covid and regulation confirmed our convictions and strategy. We also enjoy the support of the BNP Paribas Group and an atmosphere conducive to innovation – our employees know that if they have a great idea, they can present it and there could be resources to back it up. And we don’t stand still – just because we’re at the forefront of sustainability now, it doesn’t mean we don’t plan to develop our capabilities even further, launch even more innovative products, or enhance our investment approaches and rating systems. For example, together with our Sustainability Centre and the Quantitative Research Group, we recently have enhanced our ESG scoring methodology for more than 12,000 securities. The ESG scores and insights the methodology provides are very helpful for me in exchanging with the companies I am invested in and evaluating their performance.

Does the company make it possible for you to achieve your goals?

Today, I’d say my ambition is to earn money for our clients’ investments in a sustainable way. I’d like to help put the finance industry under a positive light by increasing the wealth of citizens in a responsible manner. BNPP AM is a great place to work for me because its commitment to sustainability is fully in line with my personal views. It’s really motivating to work for the company and to play a part in its sustainability story.

CLIENTS NO LONGER WANT
MAINSTREAM SRI, THEY WANT INNOVATIVE,
AMBITIOUS, TAILORED ESG STRATEGIES

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.

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