We see sustainability as a long-term force for change in markets, countries and companies. This means it can have an important impact on future performance. So in our investment processes, we treat sustainability just like any other value driver, such as company financials or market momentum. We are convinced that this leads to better-informed investment decisions.
We have access to research from leading sustainability specialists, such as our sister company, RobecoSAM. We are particularly interested in materiality: which ESG elements impact companies’ financial performance and which don’t. This enables us to focus on the information that is most relevant to our investment performance. After all, our aim is first and foremost to achieve good investment returns for our clients. At Robeco, we regularly publish articles, white papers, engagement case studies and academic research on sustainability.
A dedicated team of engagement specialists maintains an active dialogue with some 200 companies a year on financially material themes that we identify in consultation with our investors. This has proven to be a successful means of influencing corporate behavior. They also vote at around 5,000 shareholder annual general meetings. All Robeco’s activities are in line with the Principles for Responsible Investing (PRI), which require asset managers to be active owners and incorporate ESG factors into their ownership policies and practices.
In our equity strategies our analysts quantify the impact of ESG criteria on a company’s valuation. In doing so they focus on the most material issues that can affect the company’s value drivers, such as its sales growth and profit margins. They then analyze the impact of these elements on the company and, based on this assessment, adjust the company’s valuation.