Responsible Investment Policy

This policy outlined EQ's approach to responsible investment. It has been developed by the investment team and adopted by the Board for use across the entire firm and will be reviewed annually.

Defining responsible investment

EQ defines responsible investing as the integration of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors into investment management processes and ownership practices in the belief that these factors should be considered when evaluating both investment risk and opportunity.

Statement of responsible investment beliefs

EQ believes that the integration of ESG factors into its evaluation of third-party managers improves its analysis of risk and reward. As a multi-manager, EQ engages with the managers it invests with to improve their approaches to ESG integration and stewardship.

As a signatory of the UN Principles of Responsible Investment, EQ Investors commits to the following statement:

As institutional investors, EQ has a duty to act in the best long-term interests of all beneficiaries. In this fiduciary role, we believe that environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) factors can affect the performance of investment portfolios (across companies, sectors, regions and asset classes, through time and to varying degrees).

EQ also recognises that applying the following Principles may further align investors with broader objectives of society. Therefore, where consistent with fiduciary responsibilities, EQ commits to the following:

  • Principle 1: Incorporate ESG factors into investment analysis and decision-making processes.
  • Principle 2: Incorporate ESG factors into our ownership policies and practices.
  • Principle 3: Seek appropriate disclosure on ESG factors by the entities in which we invest.
  • Principle 4: Promote acceptance and implementation of the Principles within the investment industry.
  • Principle 5: Work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the Principles.
  • Principle 6: Report on our activities and progress towards implementing the Principles.

In signing the Principles, EQ commits to adopt and implement them, where consistent with its fiduciary responsibilities. EQ also commits to evaluate the effectiveness and improve the content of the Principles over time. EQ believes this will improve our ability to meet commitments to beneficiaries as well as better align our investment – activities with the broader interests of society. EQ encourages other investors to adopt the same or similar Principles.

As a Certified B Corporation, EQ Investors fully supports the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence:

  • We must be the change we seek in the world
  • All business ought to be conducted as if people and place matter
  • Through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all
  • We act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations

This encapsulates our vision of a global economy that uses business as a force for good. We strongly believe that all companies should be purpose-driven and run for the benefit of all stakeholders, not just shareholders.

It is only through understanding the interdependencies of the system – balancing the needs of communities, environment, customers and workers – that we can create a world in which we can all thrive.

This thinking drives the way we run EQ as a business and how we invest.

As one of the founding B Corps in the UK, EQ Investors strongly believes in business as a force for good. Our mission is to create systems change through the power of investments. By making it easy for our clients to invest in businesses that benefit people and planet, we can work together to create a better world.

John Spiers, CEO

Governance

Responsibility for the annual review of and regular adherence to this policy lies with EQ’s Board, and in particular, with the CEO, Head of Investment and Chief Global Investment Strategist. At an operational level, the Investment Management Committee, which is made up of the most senior members of the investment team will take responsibility for EQ’s evolving approach to responsible investing and reporting on its ESG integration and engagement. It is acknowledged that EQ (and the rest of the asset management industry) will encourage improvement in practices and processes.

Investment process

ESG analysis is fully integrated into EQ’s fund research process. Current and potential investments with third-party managers are evaluated by EQ’s fund analysts, including the approach of these managers to ESG analysis and engagement. EQ scores managers separately for E, S and G integration and engagement. We distinguish between achievements at the firm-wide and specific strategy level. EQ’s firm-wide analysis includes inputs from the PRI transparency reports, ShareAction and Stewardship Code.

The ESG evaluation is completed by sector specific fund analysts and is fully integrated into the fund selection process. There is no separate ESG team. ESG integration is one of the many factors that is considered by the fund analysts.

ESG evaluations of each manager are updated on a periodic basis for all funds on our approved list. We also encourage reporting on ESG data and engagement outcomes.

EQ’s responsible investment approach will evolve continuously as the industry’s approach evolves. EQ intends to continually push for improving standards of best practice.

Engagement and stewardship

As fund selectors EQ has a position of influence within the industry. EQ’s engagement and stewardship objective is to create systemic change by driving change in corporate behaviour.

EQ engages directly with fund managers to drive improvements in:

  1. ESG approaches at the firm and strategy level
  2. Engagement on ESG issues with the underlying investments
  3. Disclosure on firm-wide corporate responsibility
  4. Disclosure on voting and engagement
  5. Disclosure on real economy impacts

EQ also engages with industry bodies to improve best practices.

Climate change related risks and opportunities

EQ believes that climate change poses transition and physical impact risks that translate into material investment risks but also presents investible market opportunities, particularly relating to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

EQ has committed to the B Corp Net Zero 2030 initiative and is engaging constructively with asset managers to encourage them to commit to net zero target-based initiatives and to develop comprehensive action plans and reporting versus their targets, including TCFD reporting.

EQ is also encouraging managers to engage with their investee companies to do the same.

Client sustainability preferences

EQ offers a range of investment strategies to meet client sustainability preferences on ESG, sustainability and real economy influence. ESG is integrated across all strategies. These strategies can be accessed as model or bespoke portfolios. Bespoke portfolios are built to reflect client-specific sustainability and impact goals.

The EQ Positive Impact approach seeks to maximise risk-adjusted returns and positive real economy influence on society and the environment. EQ maps these portfolios to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and provides annual impact reporting.

Time horizon

EQ works with a range of different investors with varying time horizons. Portfolios can be built to reflect different time horizons and risk profiles but the approach to responsible investment is both long-term and relational. EQ collaborates with its stakeholders constructively, building long-term partnerships to drive positive change.

 

This policy was approved by the Board on 30 March 2020.