The Long-Term Equity Strategy team (LTES) is set up to invest via public stocks in solutions for the four sustainability themes, climate change, pollution and emissions, water scarcity, food security and healthcare (10% of the actively managed Listed Equities).We construct a universe of companies based on impact criteria. This universe is screened and UN Global Compact Violators and companies on our exclusion list are taken out.
Finally, we select companies from that universe for the portfolio by also including ESG risk considerations in the selection. There may be companies in the universe whose ESG risks outweigh the positive impact. LTES focuses primarily on factors that are significant risk for PGGM and its customers. This includes child labour and other forms of exploitation. We are convinced that avoiding these types of ESG risks not only leads to a better world, but in the long run also leads to a better financial return. We therefore screen companies for ESG risks as part of the stock selection process. The ESG analysis includes an assessment of the existing ESG policy, the reporting and monitoring system, as well as an investigation of independent external sources on the ESG performance of the company. LTES uses external data sources such as the internet, annual reports and specialist databases for this purpose (Sustainalytics B.V. and MSCI). In addition, LTES explicitly looks at the outstanding controversies per company. LTES also engages with the management of the companies in which we invest. The final result of the ESG analysis forms an integral part of the investment case.
We are aware we cannot offset negative with positive impact. All the companies are stable, profitable listed companies that are highly focused on ESG factors. A differentiating factor is the major shareholder positions which enables PGGM to play an influential shareholder's role in order to improve the behaviour of these companies in the ESG domain, where necessary. We apply the following instruments: engagement, voting and legal proceedings.
The LTES team is a pioneer in the field of impact investing. Since 2015, it has been active in measuring and calculating the external impact of the products and services offered by listed companies. The team discusses this with the companies, and strives for better reporting by the companies themselves. LTES had more than 170 times extensive contact with companies in 2019. LTES also made a start in 2019 on modelling the impact per theme. We want to use this to estimate the impact of companies that do not report on this themselves and to make an objective benchmark for the companies that do.
On our behalf, PGGM Investments manages several public equity mandates, including both fundamentally driven mandates as well as systematic investment strategies. PGGM recognizes that: i) through the companies in which PGGM invests on our behalf it has a significant impact on the environment and broader society as a whole, and ii) as a sizeable long-term equity investor PGGM has the opportunity to address environmental, social and governance (ESG) related issues directly with the executive management of a broad variety of companies.
Our Systemic Equity Strategies (SES) team manages the PGGM Developed Markets Alternative Equity Fund (90% of the actively managed Listed Equities). This is a quantitatively determined portfolio with exposure to a certain set of financial factors (such as value, low volatility, quality and size). The main objective of the SES mandate is to achieve a satisfactory risk-weighted financial return over the expected life of the investment. The fund is screened against our exclusion list. The SES team is bound by this list. Second, the SES team explores possibilities for systematic ESG integration in multifactor models. The team seeks to improve the ESG profile of the portfolio, while at least maintaining the desired level of exposure to its main factors. The SES team conducts research into ESG factors with regard to their potential value for the investment portfolio. The team made good progress in 2019 with their ESG integration research. For example, data from five providers was used for a comparative study of the effects of ESG factors on risk and return. With the results of this study, further steps can be taken towards an improvement of the ESG profile of the portfolio without adverse, or perhaps even with positive effects on risk in particular.
The SES team explores the possibilities for ESG integration in multifactor models. Candidate ESG factors are assessed based on their relationships to other factors in the model, their potential to add value to the investment process, and their potential to improve the ESG profile of the portfolio on top of its financial characteristics. Depending on the outcome of such an evaluation ESG factors are considered for addition to the model. Good and reliable data are naturally the challenge and key to this effort.
Third, PGGM wants to combat climate change by halving the CO2 emissions of the equity portfolio. Since 2016, we have been selling the shares of the most CO2-intensive companies in the most polluting sectors: utilities, energy and materials (70% of the total footprint comes from companies in these sectors). We reinvest the freed-up capital in the shares of more CO2 efficient companies in these three sectors. The DMAE Fund remained below the set CO2 reduction targets in 2019, thanks to an optimal trade-off between CO2 intensity and factor scores. Lastly, through active ownership such as engagement, voting and legal proceedings PGGM aims for positive change.