Heading the investment chain, asset owners wield enormous power and influence
Selection, appointment and monitoring
Responsible investment principles should be at the core of the relationship between asset owners and investment managers and should be incorporated into all stages of the investment manager relationship.
Indeed, 82% of reporting asset owners said they incorporated ESG factors into their selection, appointment, and monitoring processes this year, with notable improvements across alternative asset classes such as farmland and infrastructure (see chart below). Some 86% reported implementing ESG requirements in their requests for proposals, investment management agreements, limited partnership agreements and other appointment processes.
We published three detailed guides to assist our asset owner signatories further with their responsible investment practices across selection, appointment and monitoring. Each guide is accompanied by tools – such as sample ESG scoring methodologies, disclosure questions and standard ESG clauses that can be inserted into legal documentation.
In the coming year, we will produce work on ESG considerations in mandate design, to help asset owners close the gap between internal responsible investment governance and their manager relationships.
Strategy, policy and strategic asset allocation
Having a responsible investment policy and reflecting this in their investment strategies and strategic asset allocation allows asset owners to show how they are financing a sustainable economy, inclusive of environmental and social issues.
Some 98% of asset owner signatories reported having a responsible investment policy, while 96% of investment managers did so, reflecting a well-established practice among all respondents.
We published a series of signatory case studies, as well as guidance on the implications of the Inevitable Policy Response for ESG incorporation. More detail on this work can be found at Strategy, policy and strategic asset allocation.
Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance
- 14 members joined in 2020/21, with membership tripling to 37 since its 2019 launch
- As of May 2021, 19 asset owners have set 2025 targets
The Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance is an ambitious climate leadership group, co-convened by the PRI and UNEP FI. Members make a public commitment to transitioning investment portfolios to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, consistent with a maximum temperature rise of 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures. PRI CEO Fiona Reynolds serves on the steering group, while the alliance is supported by WWF and Global Optimism, an initiative led by Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance published several reports this year, including:
- the Inaugural 2025 Target Setting Protocol, which sets out how alliance members will issue and report on their intermediary targets for 2020–2025, in line with the Paris Agreement;
- a Thermal Coal Position paper, setting out how members will decarbonise their portfolios to contribute to global efforts to avoid a global average temperature increase above 1.5°C;
- a study, Sectoral Pathways to Net Zero Emissions, ased on the 2019 One Earth Climate Model by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney, mapping out possible 1.5 °C pathways for five high-emitting sectors: energy, utilities, materials in specific steel and cement, and transport; and
- a tool for investment manager engagement on climate-related proxy voting.
The alliance was initiated by Allianz SE, Caisse des Dépôts, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Folksam Group, PensionDanmark, and SwissRe. It is open to all PRI signatory asset owners to join.
All of our resources for asset owners can be found in a dedicated section of our website.
 All reporting data referenced in the Annual Report relates to the 2771 signatories that were required to report to the PRI in 2021. It excludes new signatories as they do not have to report in their first year. For more information, see The reporting process.
 Due to changes in the Reporting Framework methodology, asset owners whose externally managed assets were held in pooled investment vehicles were excluded from answering this question.