It is our conviction that analying sustainability information leads to better informed investment decisions. Whereas sustainability integration has been applied to equity investments for years, in fixed income it has only recently gained broader interest. At Robeco, we currently have six ways in which we can improve the sustainability of credit portfolios. But we are also looking ahead and, together with RobecoSAM, we are in the process of developing a framework to measure the contribution of companies to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of sustainability goals released by the United Nations in 2015 as a successor to the Millennium Development Goals. This framework will be a further step in the ongoing process of integrating sustainability into Robeco’s credit solutions.
A growing number of investment managers apply some form of sustainability integration to the portfolios they manage. Approaches range from basic exclusions to full sustainability integration and impact investing. At Robeco we see sustainability as a long-term driver for change in countries and companies, which can impact performance. Depending on the strategy, we have an array of six methods to integrate sustainability into our credit investment processes.
The first way to improve the sustainability of our credit portfolios is the exclusion of companies we consider to be highly controversial in their business conduct. We apply this to all our credit portfolios. We exclude a number of companies that structurally breach the United Nations Global Compact and do not show any sign of improvement after an intense process of three years of engagement. Such breaches can for instance relate to human rights, corruption and environmental issues. Companies that are involved in the production of controversial weapons are also excluded from our investable universe. Although generally we prefer to engage with companies rather than to exclude them, we do exclude these two groups of companies from all our credit portfolios.
The fundamental analysis of companies in which we invest is the foundation of our approach to credit investing. The credit analyst performs an in-depth assessment of a company’s business position, strategy, corporate structure and financial position, and consistently complements this with an assessment of how the company handles environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) matters.
This ESG assessment is a perfect addition to the traditional analysis because it enables the analyst to identify potential additional downside risks that otherwise would have remained below the surface. Examples are the risk of claims related to pollution or lacking safety measures for personnel, or weak corporate governance that could lead to fraud. If these additional risks are material enough to pose a threat to the financial stability of the company, the analyst will adjust his company appraisal. This happens in approximately 30% of cases.
ESG integration in quantitative credit portfolios
For the quantitatively managed credit portfolios, we apply portfolio construction rules to ensure that companies with high RobecoSAM sustainability scores are more likely to be included in the portfolio than companies with low scores. In addition, our credit analysts assess whether the companies the quantitative model proposes for investment bear additional ESG risks. If these risks are financially material, we will not invest in these companies.
Although we as bondholders don’t have formal voting rights for the companies in which we invest, we do exercise our influence as creditor to discuss potential improvements in their business conduct. We focus on improving sustainable corporate behavior as this can result in better long-term performance of the company and hence better quality of our investments. The selection of the right engagement themes per industry is a joint effort between portfolio managers, active ownership specialists and sustainability researchers from RobecoSAM.
Another way to improve the sustainability of a credit portfolio is to reduce its aggregated environmental footprint. For the companies in which we invest, RobecoSAM measures their greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, water use and waste generation. We use this information to substitute companies with the largest negative impact on society with those that have less of an impact. We apply this simple yet effective way to a number of credit portfolios to ensure that the aggregated environmental footprint of these portfolios is below average.
Our approach to ESG integration in corporate bonds was rewarded with a high A score by the UNPRI in their 2017 assessment.
More and more institutions and companies issue bonds whose revenues are used to finance green projects. These ‘green bonds’ comprise a growing part of the investment grade credit universe. A way to improve the sustainability of credit portfolios is to allocate to this type of bonds.
We only invest in green bonds with and attractive performance potential. Furthermore, we thoroughly screen the green documentation of the bonds to ascertain that the proceeds raised by the bond issue are actually used to finance green projects. Not only has the supply of green bonds increased over recent years; demand is also on the rise. This makes the performance potential of many green bonds attractive.
The five sustainability approaches described above are all focused on preserving or even enhancing the portfolio’s alpha. For those investors that want to take sustainability a step further and that consider a portfolio’s sustainability just as important or perhaps even more important than its alpha, we can adjust the investment universe in such a way that only the most sustainable companies are included. For various credit portfolios we apply such a ‘best in class’ approach. For each business industry, we rank the companies in that industry on the basis of their RobecoSAM sustainability score and only include the top-50% companies. Regardless of the subsequent investment decisions, the resulting portfolio is by nature much more sustainable than its benchmark.
Sustainable Development Goals
As a signatory of the Dutch SDG Investing Agenda, Robeco is committed to contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals and considers them to be catalytic drivers for positive change. Robeco is also involved in various activities to investigate how the investment industry can contribute to achieving these goals. In one of these initiatives, we are working closely with RobecoSAM to develop an SDG framework that enables us to score companies based on the contribution they make. This framework will be the first step towards constructing credit portfolios that have a tangible positive impact on the realization of these goals.
This information is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as an offer to sell or an invitation to buy any securities or products, nor as investment advice or recommendation.
The contents of this document have not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”). Robeco Singapore Private Limited holds a capital markets services license for fund management issued by the MAS and is subject to certain clientele restrictions under such license.
An investment will involve a high degree of risk, and you should consider carefully whether an investment is suitable for you.
Warning/Important note: This website contains information which is only available to qualified investors as defined below. If you are not a qualified investor, please click “I Disagree” to leave the website.
By clicking on "I agree", I declare that:
1 - This website may only be accessed directly or indirectly by the following persons in Singapore:
1) “institutional investor” under section 304 of the Securities and Futures Act (Cap.289)(“SFA”), which means:
(i) the Government; (ii) a statutory board as may be prescribed by regulations made under section 341 of the SFA; (iii) an entity that is wholly and beneficially owned, whether directly or indirectly, by a central government of a country and whose principal activity is (A) to manage its own funds; (B) to manage the funds of the central government of that country (which may include the reserves of that central government and any pension or provident fund of that country); or (C) to manage the funds (which may include the reserves of that central government and any pension or provident fund of that country) of another entity that is wholly and beneficially owned, whether directly or indirectly, by the central government of that country; (iv) any entity (A) that is wholly and beneficially owned, whether directly or indirectly, by the central government of a country; and (B) whose funds are managed by an entity mentioned in sub-paragraph (iii); (v) a central bank in a jurisdiction other than Singapore; (vi) a central government in a country other than Singapore; (vii) an agency (of a central government in a country other than Singapore) that is incorporated or established in a country other than Singapore; (viii) a multilateral agency, international organisation or supranational agency as may be prescribed by regulations made under section 341 of the SFA; (ix) a bank that is licensed under the Banking Act (Cap.19); (x) a merchant bank that is approved as a financial institution under section 28 of the Monetary Authority of Singapore Act (Cap.186); (xi) a finance company that is licensed under the Finance Companies Act (Cap.108); (xii) a company or co-operative society that is licensed under the Insurance Act (Cap.142) to carry on insurance business in Singapore; (xiii) a company licensed under the Trust Companies Act (Cap.336); (xiv) a holder of a capital markets services licence; (xv) an approved exchange; (xvi) a recognised market operator; (xvii) an approved clearing house; (xviii) a recognised clearing house; (xix) a licensed trade repository; (xx) a licensed foreign trade repository; (xxi) an approved holding company; (xxii) a Depository as defined in section 81SF of the SFA; (xxiii) an entity or a trust formed or incorporated in a jurisdiction other than Singapore, which is regulated for the carrying on of any financial activity in that jurisdiction by a public authority of that jurisdiction that exercises a function that corresponds to a regulatory function of the Authority under this Act, the Banking Act (Cap.19), the Finance Companies Act (Cap.108), the Monetary Authority of Singapore Act (Cap.186), the Insurance Act (Cap.142), the Trust Companies Act (Cap.336) or such other Act as may be prescribed by regulations made under section 341 of the SFA; (xxiv) a pension fund, or collective investment scheme, whether constituted in Singapore or elsewhere; (xxv) a person (other than an individual) who carries on the business of dealing in bonds with accredited investors or expert investors; (xxvi) the trustee of such trust as the Authority may prescribe, when acting in that capacity; or; (xxvii) such other person as the Authority may prescribe.
2) “relevant person” under section 305(1) of the SFA, which means:
(i) An accredited investor; (ii) a corporation the sole business of which is to hold investments and the entire share capital of which is owned by one or more individuals, each of whom is an accredited investor; (iii) a trustee of a trust the sole purpose of which is to hold investments and each beneficiary of which is an individual who is an accredited investor; (iv) an officer or equivalent person of the person making the offer (such person being an entity) or a spouse, parent, brother, sister, son or daughter of that officer or equivalent person; or (v) a spouse, parent, brother, sister, son or daughter of the person making the offer (such person being an individual).
3) any person who acquires the units [in a collective investment scheme] as principal if the offer is on terms that the units may only be required at a consideration of not less than $200,000 (or its equivalent in a foreign currency) for each transaction, whether such amount is to be paid for in cash or by exchange of units in a collective investment scheme, securities, securities-based derivatives contracts or other assets, and if the following condition is satisfied: (i) the offer is not accompanied by an advertisement making an offer or calling attention to the offer or intended offer; (ii) no selling or promotional expenses are paid or incurred in connection with the offer other than those incurred for administrative or professional services, or by way of commission or fee for services rendered by any of the persons specified in section 302B(1)(d)(i) to (vi) of the SFA; and (iii) no prospectus in respect of the offer has been registered by the Authority or, where a prospectus has been registered (A) the prospectus has eAccxpired pursuant to section 299 of the SFA; or (B) the person making the offer has before making the offer 1. informed the Authority by notice in writing of its intent to make the offer in reliance on the exemption under this subsection; and 2. taken reasonable steps to inform in writing the person to whom the offer is made that the offer is made in reliance on the exemption under this subsection.
4) Or otherwise pursuant to, and in accordance with the conditions of, any other applicable provision of the SFA.
If you are not any of the types of persons described above, you are not authorized to enter this website and you should leave this website immediately.
2 Terms and Conditions
You acknowledge that you have read these Terms and Conditions (“Terms”) prior to accessing the website located at www.robeco.com/sg (“Website”) and you agree to be bound by the Terms. If you do not agree to all of the Terms, you are not an authorised user and you should not use the Website. The Website is owned by Robeco Singapore Private Limited (company registration number: UEN. 201541306Z), which is licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”) pursuant to the Securities and Futures Act (Cap.289) (“SFA”) of Singapore, and is managed by Robeco Singapore Private Limited and/or its affiliates (collectively, as “Robeco”). The Website is intended for and should be accessed by institutional investors or accredited investors (as defined under Section 4A of the SFA) of Singapore. The Website is not directed to, or intended for distribution to or use by, any person or entity who is a citizen or resident of or located in any locality, state, country or other jurisdiction where such distribution, publication, availability or use would be contrary to law or regulation or which would subject the Robeco to any registration or licensing requirement within such jurisdiction. It is your responsibility to observe all applicable laws, rules and regulations of any relevant jurisdiction. The content contained in the Website is owned by Robeco and/or its information providers and is protected by applicable copyrights, trademarks, service marks, and/or other intellectual property rights. You may not copy, distribute, modify, post, frame or link the Website, including any text, graphics, video, audio, software code, user interface, design or logos. You may not distribute, modify, transmit, reuse, repost, or use the content of the Website for public or commercial use, including all text, images, audio and/or video. Robeco may terminate your access to the Website for any reason, without prior notice. Neither Robeco, nor any of its associates, nor any director, officer or employee accepts any liability whatsoever for any loss arising directly or indirectly from the access of the Website. You agree to indemnity and hold Robeco, its associates, directors, officers or employees harmless against any and all claims, losses, liability, costs and expenses arising from your use of the Website due to violation of the Terms. Robeco reserves the right to change, modify, add or remove any parts of the Terms at any time and for any reason. The Terms shall deemed to be effective immediately upon posting. The Terms shall be governed by, and shall be construed in accordance with, the law of Singapore.
The Website has not been reviewed by the MAS. Accordingly, the Website may not be accessed directly or indirectly to persons in Singapore other than (i) to an institutional investor under Section 304 of the SFA, (ii) to a relevant person pursuant to Section 305(1), or any person pursuant to Section 305(2), and in accordance with the conditions specified in Section 305, of the SFA, or (iii) otherwise pursuant to, and in accordance with the conditions of, any other applicable provision of the SFA.
Nothing in the Website constitutes tax, accounting, regulatory, legal or investment advice. The Website is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as an offer to sell or an invitation to buy any securities or products, nor as investment advice or recommendation or for the purpose of soliciting any action in relation to Robeco’s businesses, or solicitation by anyone in any jurisdiction in which such an offer or solicitation is not authorised or to any person to whom it is unlawful to make such an offer and solicitation. Any reproduction or distribution of information from the Website, in whole or in part, or the disclosure of its contents, without the prior written consent of Robeco, is prohibited. By accessing to the Website, you agree to the foregoing.
The funds referred to in the Website are for information only. It is not a recommendation or investment advice, nor does it mean the funds is suitable for all investors. The contents of the website is not reviewed by the MAS. Any decision to participate in the funds should be made only after reviewing the sections regarding investment considerations, conflicts of interest, risk factors and the relevant Singapore selling restrictions. You should consult your professional adviser if you are in doubt about the stringent restrictions applicable to the use of the Website, regulatory status of the funds, applicable regulatory protection, associated risks and suitability of the funds to your objectives.
Any decisions made based on the information contained in the Website are the sole responsibility of yours. Any investments made or to be made shall be with your independent analyses based on your financial situation and objectives. The investments and strategies contained in the Website may not be suitable for all investors and are not guaranteed by Robeco.
Investment involves risks and may lose value. Historical returns are provided for illustrative purposes only and do not necessarily reflect Robeco’s expectations for the future. The value of your investments may fluctuate. Past performance is no indication of current or future performance. The Website may contain projections or other forward looking statements regarding future events or future financial performance of countries, markets or companies and such projection or forecast is not indicative of the future. The information contained in the Website, including any data, projections and underlying assumptions are based upon certain assumptions, management forecasts and analysis of information available on an “as is” basis and without warranties of any kind, whether express or implied, and reflects prevailing conditions and Robeco’s views as of the date published or indicated, and maybe superseded by subsequent events or for other reasons. The information contained in the Website are accordingly subject to change at any time without notice and Robeco are under no obligation to notify you of any of these changes. Robeco expressly disclaims all liability for errors and omissions in the information presented in the Website and for the use or interpretation by others of information contained in the Website.
Robeco Singapore Private Limited holds a capital markets services licence for fund management issued by the MAS and is subject to certain clientele restrictions under such licence. An investment will involve a high degree of risk, and you should consider carefully whether an investment is suitable for you.