We have a fully-integrated ESG methodology in which we qualitatively account for all identifiable risks in our risk-adjusted returns expectations.
Our thematic approach encompasses a disciplined focus on growth of domestic consumption in emerging markets. Our ethnographic research approach gives a voice to people in emerging markets, and the solutions that they see to their own social and environmental problems.
Our Approach to Responsible Investing
We seek to generate impact through seven social and environmental sustainable themes, such as Women Effect, Next Billion and Longevity.
All risks are given a qualitative score that translates into a forward-looking beta, which feeds into a cost of equity calculation to determine risk-adjusted returns.
We engage with managements on their own assessment of risks they face and provide transparency as to our proxy voting stance.
We are a signatory to the UN's Principles for Responsible Investment. We actively support the goals towards the global financial system's sustainability, and benefits to the environment and society.
Generating Impact - Our Themes
Our intense and unparalleled investment-oriented ethnographic research has helped us to identify seven major themes, each of which has far reaching implications, across a number of countries, and across multiple sectors.
We constantly re-assess each theme for relevance and investment impact potential, at the same time as looking out for additional themes.
Income growth is faster for aspirational consumers at the bottom of the pyramid than for middle classes. Companies with value-for-money products can capture their growing demand.
Migrants are among the most driven consumers, willing to uproot themselves, striving for a better future for themselves and their families.
Understanding changing values can help to explain and predict changing societies and consumption patterns.
Electrification boosts productivity and propels women to the centre of the family, allowing them more control over their families’ futures and expenditure.
ESG Risk Integration
ESG Risk Integration
Knowledge and trend-sharing through smartphones and social media can make societies more inclusive, and are turning youth into a homogeneous group.
Rather than being a burden, increasing longevity enables more people to be more productive for longer, boosting economic activity and shifting consumption patterns.
HEALTH & WELLNESS
Healthcare expenditure, driven in part women’s changing roles, is seen as enabling achievement, and a symbol of progress.
Investors should be fully compensated for all risks, and not just operational risks. Full integration of ESG risks should therefore be fundamental to any methodology which aims to measure risk-adjusted returns.
For example, take a company that is heavily exposed to foreign exchange risk in its sourcing of raw material. The company can accurately calculate its exposure and is able to hedge all or part of it. While foreign exchange risk is a material risk, it should be relatively efficiently priced in by the market.
In contrast, ESG risks are inherently more difficult for many stakeholders to identify, assess, and quantify, and then act upon. For investors, this can result in an incomplete, and therefore incorrect integration of risk into a risk assessment and valuation for a company.
Consequently, it pays for investors to spend time trying to assess the probability and materiality of risks, and the extent to which they are priced in. Because of this we have structured our process such that we spend as much time analysing risk as we do thinking about upside opportunity.
NB: The size of the bubble reflects the extent to which risk is priced in
Premortem Risk Analysis
We perform a bottom-up premortem risk analysis on each company that we consider. This involves projecting ourselves in the future and imagining that the investment thesis has failed. We then working backwards to visualise the risks that might have caused that failure.
The aim is to quantify individual risks as objectively as possible, and factor these risks into our valuation assessment for each stock.
The premortem risk assessment methodically considers each risk. The top ten risks are identified by scoring each risk for probability, materiality, and the extent to which it is discounted in the share price (see chart above).
The outcome is effectively an ex ante, or forward-looking, Beta (the Risk Score on the chart above). We believe that conventional Beta incorporates insufficient information regarding future risks, especially those risks that are not efficiently quantified by the market.
The ex ante Beta is measured against our universe of stocks, and then using CAPM, we forecast risk-adjusted returns. Our portfolio aims to maximise these forecast risk-adjusted returns, incorporating our quantified risk measurement of all risks, including ESG risks.
Proxy Voting and Engagement with companies in which we invest are fundamental elements of our investment process.
As we have chosen to comply with the EU's Revised Shareholder Rights Directive (SRD II) we are required to disclose our engagement/proxy voting policies, and to make an annual disclosure regarding our compliance with SRD II.
We have appointed a third party agency to transmit our proxy voting instructions, a process that is reliant on various external parties. We publish our voting records on a quarterly basis.
The Financial Reporting Council's UK Stewardship Code aims to enhance the quality of engagement between investors and companies to help improve long-term risk-adjusted returns to shareholders. We are enthusiastically aligned to these objectives. We are a Tier 1 signatory to the Code.
View our UK Stewardship Code Statement
We actively engage with company management, both during our due diligence process and on an ongoing basis. We aim to assess whether the management shares our views on the trends we identified during the Immersions research process. We also consider how the management is positioning the company to capture those trends.
We commit to exercising our voting rights - proxy voting has to be a crucial element of responsible investing. But we also aim to go further in engaging with management around ESG principles, not least because of the potential for management actions to affect our portfolio returns.
The weaker a company's approach to ESG, the less attractive its valuation due to the impact on the risk-adjusted returns calculation. That, in turn, makes it less likely that we will invest our clients' funds.
During our engagement with managements, we make clear our investment thesis, testing whether it is corroborated by management. We also consider management's assessment of the major risks that we identify, and their attitude to monitoring and controlling these risks.