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Comparing pension funds’ ESG policies in the Nordics and the Netherlands

Comparing pension funds’ ESG policies in the Nordics and the Netherlands

10-12-2020 | インサイト
Northern European pension funds are at the forefront of the global move towards more sustainable investing. But while these funds all concur sustainability needs to be taken into account, their ESG policies often vary significantly. A closer look at the policies implemented by large pension funds in the Nordics and the Netherlands shows important differences.
  • Laurens Swinkels
    Laurens
    Swinkels
    Researcher

Speed read

  • Pension funds concur sustainability is important 
  • Significant differences between the funds’ ESG policies 
  • Asset managers must adapt to changing needs 

Sustainable investing, responsible investing or ESG investing has become an important theme in asset management over the past decade, especially among pension funds in Northern Europe. These pension funds’ investment policies typically describe how sustainable investing is put into practice. Yet, these ESG policies can vary significantly from one fund to the next.

To assess the differences, we analyzed the individual policies of the ten largest pension funds in each of the four Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden – as well as the Netherlands. A prerequisite was that each fund had to manage at least EUR 1 billion in assets. Within these countries, we found strong network effects that were due either to the funds being part of a sustainability initiative or to excluding certain products or company behaviors.

Among the stocks typically considered for exclusion in academic studies – namely alcohol, tobacco, and gambling stocks – only tobacco stocks were shunned on a large scale by the pension funds in our sample. Stocks of alcohol producers and gambling firms were only rarely excluded.

Controversial weapons were by far the most heavily excluded category, sometimes through forced national regulation. The academic literature occasionally mentions adult entertainment and conventional weapons as meeting the criteria for product-based exclusions, but these were rarely excluded by pension funds in our sample.

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Focus on climate in Denmark and Sweden

From an environmental protection perspective, most Nordic countries have excluded investments in (thermal) coal companies, while Dutch pension funds are still not doing this on a large scale. Meanwhile, excluding oil and tar sands has become commonplace in Denmark and Sweden. These two countries’ largest pension funds were actually the first to start excluding oil companies from their portfolios.

There seems to be a great deal of disagreement about which companies should be excluded

An interesting finding from our study is that while pension funds concur on broad topics such as environmental damage, human rights and labor rights, there seems to be a great deal of disagreement about which companies should actually be excluded.

These variations between the exclusion policies reflect a healthy degree of diversity in the different approaches to sustainable investing. Sustainability means many things to many people. But these differences can also create challenges for asset managers. In particular, they ensure managers cannot follow a one-size-fits-all approach when developing sustainable investment solutions for institutional investors.

重要事項

当資料は情報提供を目的として、Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V.が作成した英文資料、もしくはその英文資料をロベコ・ジャパン株式会社が翻訳したものです。資料中の個別の金融商品の売買の勧誘や推奨等を目的とするものではありません。記載された情報は十分信頼できるものであると考えておりますが、その正確性、完全性を保証するものではありません。意見や見通しはあくまで作成日における弊社の判断に基づくものであり、今後予告なしに変更されることがあります。運用状況、市場動向、意見等は、過去の一時点あるいは過去の一定期間についてのものであり、過去の実績は将来の運用成果を保証または示唆するものではありません。また、記載された投資方針・戦略等は全ての投資家の皆様に適合するとは限りません。当資料は法律、税務、会計面での助言の提供を意図するものではありません。

ご契約に際しては、必要に応じ専門家にご相談の上、最終的なご判断はお客様ご自身でなさるようお願い致します。

運用を行う資産の評価額は、組入有価証券等の価格、金融市場の相場や金利等の変動、及び組入有価証券の発行体の財務状況による信用力等の影響を受けて変動します。また、外貨建資産に投資する場合は為替変動の影響も受けます。運用によって生じた損益は、全て投資家の皆様に帰属します。したがって投資元本や一定の運用成果が保証されているものではなく、投資元本を上回る損失を被ることがあります。弊社が行う金融商品取引業に係る手数料または報酬は、締結される契約の種類や契約資産額により異なるため、当資料において記載せず別途ご提示させて頂く場合があります。具体的な手数料または報酬の金額・計算方法につきましては弊社担当者へお問合せください。

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商号等: ロベコ・ジャパン株式会社  金融商品取引業者 関東財務局長(金商)第2780号

加入協会: 一般社団法人 日本投資顧問業協会

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