KEPLER's first sustainable equity fund - KEPLER Sustainability Aktienfonds - was issued in November 2000, therefore, 17 years ago. KEPLER was aware of the importance of sustainable investments quite early and also was aware of its responsibility to promote this kind of investment strategy. Two years later, KEPLER Ethik Aktienfonds, the first ethical (equity) investment fund in Austria, was issued and thus KEPLER led the ground for further ESG funds. Different special funds were issued for institutional investors and KEPLER Ethik Rentenfonds, an ethical bond fund for private clients, was incorporated. In 2014, KEPLER launched KEPLER Ethik Mix, a mutual fund with a mixture of ethical bonds and equities. High transparency, international and independent partners (such as oekom research AG) and an ongoing dialogue with the partners as well as a continuous development of the investment approach are vital for the success of KEPLER's ESG investment approach.
Ethical/sustainable investments with KEPLER can be described as an interaction between 4 parties and main thematic fields respectively: KEPLER fund management for the investment process, oekom research as external sustainable research provider, KEPLER ethical committee for discussion, dialogue and exchange of experience as well as the KEPLER engagement process to have a dialogue with issuers as far as the violation of exclusion criteria are concerned.
KEPLER interacts with companies on ESG issues in order to influence corporate practice on ESG issues and to encourage improved / increased ESG disclosure. So far, we do not engage via collaborative engagements and service provider engagements - this is in internal discussion and might be changed in the near future. KEPLER's engagement policy covers transparently environmental factors, social factors and governance factors.There is a formal process for identifying and prioritising engagement activities carried out by internal staff. These are exposure (holdings) and in reaction to ESG impacts with has already taken place. To monitor and evaluate the progress of your engagement activities, we define timelines of the milestones and goals and establish a process for when the goals are not met.
There is both a "positive" engangement process as well as a "negative" engagement process.
- Positive engagement: motivation for investability
The aim of positive engagement is to motivate companies via contacting them (letter) to take the necessary steps to be investable. These companies either do not violate any exclusion criteria, however, do not reach the investment threshold or they violate exclusion criteria but are above the investment threshold. KEPLER receives the potential for improvement for every company by oekom research AG. Positive engagement is done bi-annualy.
- Negative engagement: in case of any violation of exclusion criteria
oekom research AG quarterly sends the new investment universe including those companies which violate an exclusion criterion. KEPLER contacts these companies via letter, including an explanation of the violation as well as the consequence: sale of stocks (equities or bonds). In case the company answers, oekom research AG undertakes the following dialogue with the company. The maximum period between publication of any breach and final sale is 4 months.