On our behalf, the External Management department of PGGM Investments selects, monitors and manages external managers for the funds and segregated mandates in which we are invested. We recognize the important role External Management has with regard to responsible investment. We aim to select external managers who share our beliefs and pay due attention to material ESG risks and opportunities in the investment decision making processes. One of the indicators hereof is when the external manager is a signatory to the UNPRI and/or other relevant organizations. However, being a signatory is often not enough. We seek further understanding of the actual activities of the manager in integrating ESG in their investment process. This is included in the selection and monitoring of external managers. We expect external managers to live up to the spirit of our responsible investment beliefs in both their investment processes and in the way that they organize their business.
External Management uses the PGGM Selection and Monitoring Framework (SMF) to assess the quality of potential external managers and for ongoing monitoring of current external managers. This framework consists of seven categories: Philosophy, People, Process, Performance, Planet (ESG), Platform/Organization, Price/Costs.
The category 'Planet' is the basis to determine in both the selection and monitoring the extent to which the external manager has integrated responsible investing in its investment process and to which extent it is incorporated in its day to day operations. This involves an assessment of the responsible investment policy, governance, the degree of ESG integration in investments, voting/engagement, reporting and alignment with the PRI/other initiatives. All managers are uniformly scored on their ESG profile in accordance with this. PGGM continuously monitors the progress of the responsible investment activities of external managers. Besides that PGGM compares their activities to what is considered best practice in the market regarding responsible investment in asset management. This also enables PGGM to create its own benchmark against which the managers' responsible investment activities can be scored. Any possible improvements will also be input for future discussions.
The responsible investment criteria are used as a formal component of overall manager performance evaluation. In the contract with the manager PGGM determines how ESG factors will be discussed, which assessment criteria apply to them, what reporting requirements and KPIs are laid down. For our yearly reviews of external managers, we ask them how they integrate ESG and any progress made and score them on ESG. The Risk committee oversees the ESG scores and monitors them. We receive an External Manager Report which contains a separate section on ESG.
In addition, our fiduciary, on our behalf encourages external managers to be transparent and to share their knowledge of ESG integration and its impact on investments. PGGM also assess the voting behaviour of external managers. How often do they vote in favour of management proposals? Is their voting behaviour in line with the voting guidelines? When we suspect discrepancies, we engage the external managers in dialogue. Apart from this, the team organises knowledge sessions to which external parties who we consider to be thought leaders are invited to share their knowledge with our internal teams and to enter into a dialogue relating to any responsible investment issues. This way we try to facilitate knowledge sharing among our internal and external managers.
See our fiduciaries RI guideline for more information: https://www.pggm.nl/english/what-we-do/Documents/responsible-investment-in-external-management_january_2017.pdf.
When the private market teams (Infrastructure, Private Equity, Private Real estate, CRST work with an external manager, evaluating them on ESG integration and the quality of managing ESG issues is part of the investment process. For their guidelines see: https://www.pggm.nl/english/what-we-do/Pages/Guidelines.aspx
Regarding Private Equity: In the selection stage, we make an assessment of our investment partners to determine that ESG risks and opportunities will be treated appropriately and in line with our responsible investment strategies and beliefs. In order to integrate ESG into the investment process, the first step involves completion of the ESG questionnaire by the respective private equity deal team during the due diligence phase. This questionnaire, our ESG Integration Assessment, has seven questions drawing from the PRI's Due Diligence Questionnaire. It includes metrics such as RI policy and responsibility in the fund, involvement in industry initiatives (i.e. UNPRI signatory), ESG integration in day-to-day activities, ESG monitoring, and ESG reporting, resulting in a score of 1 (worst) to 5 (best). The PGGM PE team uses the framework to score the GPs in the due diligence period before investment and then also for monitoring. The scoring of GPs is summarized within the final investment proposal (FIP), the document upon which the relevant Investment Committee(s) take a decision on whether or not to commit. During the deal team process, PE investment professionals, challenged by the Risk Analysis team and supported by the RI team when necessary, consider the ESG risks and opportunities of each investment. The PE Investment Committee is committed to showing an improvement in ESG implementation within the portfolio over time.