Environmental, social, and corporate governance
Responsible investing is an important aspect of the service we offer our clients and a key point of differentiation with passive investment strategies and many other active managers. SVM began managing Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) products in 2006. Since then, our engagement principles have evolved to include environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues across our range.
Our top priorities are to do our best for our clients, by maximising their portfolio returns and protecting their interests, and to drive benefit for society. To select investments we employ a consistent and disciplined approach that focuses on intensive bottom up research. As part of our investment process we assess many factors including ESG considerations for their potential to materially affect a company’s performance.
As a boutique investment firm we recognise that, because in most cases we will not hold significant positions in investee companies, it can be difficult to encourage changes in management attitudes and behaviour purely by exercising client voting powers alone. Instead, we have adopted a more flexible approach and we engage with company management and boards as and when we believe it will be of most benefit.
Using information derived from a combination of in-house research, dialogue with the company and external sources we identify the key issues and discuss them directly with company management, in order to affect change.
We use the services of Institutional Shareholder Services (“ISS”) which provides analysis and recommendations on voting, while determining ourselves the way in which we will vote on behalf of our clients. Our votes, therefore, may differ from the ISS recommendation. SVM publish online all voting and reasons for differences with board recommendations.
Our socially responsible investing fund
In 2006 SVM launched the SVM All Europe SRI Fund. Our SRI approach not only enters into meaningful dialogue with companies regarding ESG issues but also takes this a step further and screens out companies where a principle activity is tobacco, pornography or armaments. Positive screening involves the completion, either in-house or by the company concerned, of a questionnaire covering four key areas: personnel; society & stakeholders; human rights and environment.