The PRI Leaders’ Group 2019 showcases PRI signatories that demonstrate both a breadth of responsible investment excellence, and that excel specifically in this year’s theme: selection, appointment and monitoring of external managers. Our evaluation focused specifically on listed equity and private equity, as these are the asset classes where we have the most developed work on identifying good industry practice, and are most able to support signatories. The group of leading signatories is roughly equivalent to 10% of all asset owner signatories.
There is no ranking within the group listed in alphabetical order below. To look into any given signatories’ practices in detail, follow the link to their Transparency Report.
The PRI congratulates the following 47 asset owner signatories for being included in the PRI Leaders’ Group 2019, in particular for their responsible investment work in the field of selecting, appointing and monitoring external managers in listed and/or private equity:
Who was not eligible for the 2019 Leaders’ group?
- Signatories that are classified as investment managers or service providers.
- Signatories that do not use external managers.
- Signatories that do not have listed equity or private equity in their assets managed by external managers.
- Signatories that opted out of being included in the Leaders’ Group (Reporting Framework indicator CM 10.3).
Signatories were screened based on this year’s leadership topic.
In 2019, signatories must be an asset owner that has received an A or A+ in the selection, appointment and monitoring module, in either listed equity or private equity.
A combined score using responses from across the Reporting Framework was then used to identify, from that pool, a group of leading signatories equivalent to 10% of all asset owners.
Strategy & governance
How does the Leaders’ Group compare to the overall signatory base?
The Leaders’ Group includes various types of asset owner, in proportions broadly reflective of the composition of PRI’s asset owner signatory base in general. Development finance institutions are the most starkly well-represented group: 60% of all DFI signatories for whom this year’s theme is applicable make it into the Leaders’ Group. State-controlled funds also do well, and insurance companies fare better than average. Non-corporate pension funds do nearly twice as well as corporate pension funds.
Signatories from Europe and Oceania are particularly well represented in the Leaders’ Group, with nearly 20% of relevant signatories from these regions making the group. North American signatories perform less well, with just 6% of relevant signatories meeting the criteria, and neither Asia nor Latin America count any representative, putting them behind Africa, which – despite low overall signatory numbers – sees one signatory make the cut.
There is a clear trend for leaders to be more likely to be long-standing signatories than new joiners, although this is primarily driven by an over-representation of signatories from the PRI’s inaugural year: more than a third of the Leaders’ Group is made up of asset owners that signed up to the Principles in 2006.
There is a slight trend in larger signatories being better represented in the Leaders’ Group than smaller ones. Of the signatories relevant this year, those managing more than US$10bn do about twice as well as those managing less than US$10bn.
Examples of leading selection, appointment and monitoring practices
LEADERS HAVE: a thorough and systematic process
Signatories in the Leaders’ Group embed assessment of potential managers’ ESG approach right throughout their evaluation process.
From the outset, the asset owner will communicate their own investment strategy, and what part in it ESG plays. They will lay out any ESG requirements for managers in selection documentation such as RfPs, RfIs or DDQs. As well as collecting information through these documents, information will come from reviewing public information and conducting on-site visits.
A careful assessment of managers’ ESG credentials will take in their investment strategy, capacity, governance, investment processes and how ESG factors are incorporated into investment valuation and decisions. Qualitative information will be considered covering areas such as managers’ responsible investment beliefs, culture and policies.
In listed equity, quantitative information such as ESG scoring and weighting systems (either proprietary, external or a mix) will be used to run peer comparison and shortlist potential managers. Some set targets for the extent to which an investment positively or negatively impacts the real economy, or the environment and society more broadly. Most require their investment managers to engage and vote on their behalf, and so review engagement and voting policies, their process and outcomes, as well as seeking to understand whether those outcomes feed back into the investment decision-making process.
In private equity, leading signatories not only assess the ESG expertise of the manager’s investment teams, the quality of their investment policy and its reference to ESG, but often go deeper to compare the firm-level approach with the approach on a particular product. They will review and agree the frequency and detail of ESG reporting, and have upfront discussions with managers about how ESG materiality is evaluated, setting expectations for the monitoring phase.
- Enhancing manager selection with ESG insight
- Considering ESG integration in manager selection in listed equities
- LP responsible investment DDQ: and how to use it.
LEADERS HAVE: clear, specific, contractual definitions
The most common way to formalise ESG expectations with a chosen manager is through investment management agreements (IMAs), limited partnership agreements (LPAs) or side letters, although exact approaches vary, including between regions.
Leading signatories seek a robust governance framework for ESG integration, across multiple elements of governance, investment decision-making processes and investor reporting.
In the event that ESG requirements are not met, action is taken to understand reasons for non-compliance, and in the vast majority of cases, project plans are drawn up to engage with the manager and rectify the issue. More than half of those in the Leaders’ Group place the investment manager on a watch list if requirements start to be missed, and will terminate the contract if the manager is failing in all actions.
In listed equity, leading signatories are much more likely to clearly layout out overall ESG objectives and/or specific exclusions/restrictions in contracts, and most include active ownership considerations such as requiring managers to provide detailed descriptions of engagement cases, progress and outcomes. This can extend to specifying voting and engagement participation thresholds (e.g. requiring managers to vote on 100% of resolutions), and requiring regular reporting on voting records and engagement activities.
In private equity, leading limited partners are getting clear commitment from general partners in three areas: ESG objectives; reporting on ESG objectives; adherence to ESG guidelines, regulations, principles and standards.
- Considering ESG integration in manager appointment in listed equities
- Incorporating responsible investment requirements into private equity fund terms
LEADERS HAVE: rigorous follow-up procedures
To reduce reputational and management risk, leading signatories have detailed policies for frequently monitoring managers’ performance through on-site interviews, calls, and DDQ reviews. The Leaders’ Group often develop their own minimum criteria for ESG incorporation and active ownership and use this to evaluate manager performance.
They particularly distinguish themselves by reviewing and evaluating evidence of how ESG materiality has been evaluated by the manager, and how ESG incorporation has affected the investment decisions and ultimate financial performance of the fund/ portfolio. Some also monitor changes to who is overseeing, and who is responsible for, implementing ESG considerations.
- Monitoring managers’ ESG integration in listed equity
- ESG monitoring, reporting and dialogue in private equity
Frequently asked questions
Which signatories were eligible for the Leaders’ Group?
Each year the Leaders’ Group will be focusing on a topic identified in the Blueprint for responsible investment. In 2019, the topic is asset owners’ selection, appointment and monitoring of external managers in listed equity and private equity. Therefore, the Leaders’ Group only looked at asset owners with externally managed listed equity and private equity.
What is the difference between the PRI Leaders’ Group and the PRI Leadership Awards?
The Leaders’ Group is identified using signatories’ self-reported data through the Reporting Framework and PRI assessment across signatories’ assets. However, the PRI Awards are recognising individual projects that have been self-nominated by signatories and are evaluated by a panel of independent judges.
Can the PRI share how close my organisation came to the cut-off for the Leaders’ Group?
Showcasing leadership is not about publicly rating signatories – it is to highlight relevant and useful practices and promote learning amongst the responsible investment community. The methodology for identifying the Leaders’ Group consists of an element of scoring. However, the scores are not designed to be meaningful outside of this context, and so will not be communicated, either publicly or to the signatories concerned. The PRI will not be publishing any scores, nor ranking the signatories within the Leaders’ Group.
Will you be releasing a Leaders’ Group every year?
We plan to. We’re very pleased to recognise leadership and to showcase best practices from our signatories in responsible investing. We will look to give similar recognition next year, but on another Leaders’ Group theme.
Will future Leaders’ Groups also be for asset owners, or do you plan to broaden the scope of the group in the future?
Future Leaders’ Groups will have broader themes that open up for the inclusion of Investment Managers. Themes include climate change management and active ownership.
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