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BNP Paribas Asset Management

PRI reporting framework 2020

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ESG incorporation in actively managed fixed income

Implementation processes

FI 01. Incorporation strategies applied

Indicate (1) Which ESG incorporation strategy and/or combination of strategies you apply to your actively managed fixed income investments; and (2) The proportion (+/- 5%) of your total actively managed fixed income investments each strategy applies to.
SSA
0 Screening alone
0 Thematic alone
0 Integration alone
95 Screening + integration strategies
0 Thematic + integration strategies
0 Screening + thematic strategies
5 All three strategies combined
0 No incorporation strategies applied
100%
Corporate (financial)
0 Screening alone
0 Thematic alone
0 Integration alone
95 Screening + integration strategies
0 Thematic + integration strategies
0 Screening + thematic strategies
5 All three strategies combined
0 No incorporation strategies applied
100%
Corporate (non-financial)
0 Screening alone
0 Thematic alone
0 Integration alone
95 Screening + integration strategies
0 Thematic + integration strategies
0 Screening + thematic strategies
5 All three strategies combined
0 No incorporation strategies applied
100%

01.2. Describe your reasons for choosing a particular ESG incorporation strategy and how combinations of strategies are used.

Screening and ESG integration, guided by our sustainable investment approach and ESG integration Guidelines (as explained in LEI 01.2) are mandatory for all our equity open-ended funds. 100% of investment processes in our ESG Validation scope has been reviewed as of end of December 2019.

Screening, ESG integration and thematic approach: In addition to implementing the four pillar of sustainable investment, our Sustainable + funds go a step further, by implementing more explicit ESG tilts and/or adopting a thematic or impact approach. Thematic funds invest in companies that provide products and services providing concrete solutions to specific environmental and/ or social challenges, seeking to benefit from the future growth anticipated in these areas while contributing capital towards the transition towards a low carbon, inclusive economy (such as our green bond and social bond strategies).

In addition, the Sustainable + range includes a series of fixed income funds using a Best in class approach launched in 2002. These funds are screened using the UN Global compact compliance filter and then an identification of the best companies sector per sector is made by defining sector-specific ESG indicators.

01.3. Additional information [Optional].

Through our Global Sustainability Strategy (GSS) launched in March 2019, we committed to integrating sustainable investment practices across all our assets. This includes actively managed bond portfolios.

Underpinning our approach to sustainable investment and working towards a sustainable future are our beliefs that:

1.     We are long-term, forward looking investors

„ As active investors, we are forward looking.  We analyse the past in order to better anticipate future developments; we place greater emphasis on  identifying and helping to promote positive change in the future than rewarding (or punishing) past or current behaviour.

„ We are long-term investors, and are prepared to be patient to achieve better results for our clients, and for the world at large.

2.     Our fiduciary duty is aligned with sustainable investment

„ We believe that our fiduciary duty to our clients includes taking environmental, social and governance risks into consideration in our investment decisions.

„ We have a fiduciary duty to our clients to make informed decisions taking reputational, operational and financial risks into careful consideration.

3.     Stewardship is an opportunity and an obligation

„ Stewardship is an integral, and crucial, part of sustainable investment. As active asset owners, we believe that we should use company engagement, proxy voting and policy advocacy to influence companies and the world for the better.

„ Stewardship, if done correctly, can reduce risk, unlock value and impact the world around us in a positive way through the promotion of improved sustainability practices, disclosure levels and transparency.

„ We believe that engagement is generally more effective than exclusion but divestment can be effective as a last resort.

„ Company disclosure is a fundamental requirement for sound investment decision-making.

„ Collaboration with other long-term investors and stakeholders can help to achieve our common environmental and social aims, particularly when engaging with companies and regulatory bodies.

„ We are also committed to engaging with our clients to promote greater acceptance and implementation of sustainable investing.

4.     ESG integration helps us achieve better risk-adjusted returns 

As mentioned in our sustainable investment philosophy: 

„ Sustainability is a long-term driver of investment risks, and returns (although these risks also manifest in the short-term).

„ Sustainability is imperfectly understood, under-researched and inefficiently priced – different players have different goals, approaches, accesses to information, levels of understanding, integration into investment processes etc. Information and disclosure levels are imperfect, incomplete and inconsistent.

„ We will make better investment decisions, based on a richer and deeper understanding of risks and opportunities, if we systematically and explicitly integrate ESG factors into our investment analysis and investment decision-making.

„ Risk management needs to incorporate ESG risks.

5.     A sustainable economic future relies on sustainable investment practices

„ We can deliver the same or better financial returns in the long term than traditional investments by investing sustainably, while generating positive environmental, social and governance outcomes.

„ The way we invest, and engage with companies and regulators, can help shape the world around us.  Effectively managing ESG risks will help promote greater market stability, and more sustainable long-term growth.

„ A 4°C warmer world will be uninvestable – we need to align our investments and use engagement to support successful implementation of the Paris agreement.

„ We should carefully monitor ESG performance, and try to measure the impact of our investments. 

6.     Walking the talk is critical to achieving excellence

 

Lastly, we believe that walking the talk is critical to achieving excellence:

„ As a sustainable asset manager, we should match or exceed in our corporate practices, and in disclosure, the standards we expect from the entities in which we invest.

„ Fostering a sustainable culture internally drives sustainable investment by our staff. 

 

As part of the GSS, we define five pillars of sustainable investment:

1.     ESG Integration: Our ESG Integration Guidelines and Policy apply to all of our investment processes (and therefore funds, mandates, and thematic funds). However, they are ‘non-applicable’ for index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

2.     Stewardship: Shareholder-engagement and public policy advocacy activities are undertaken on behalf of all of our assets under management. 

3.     Responsible Business Conduct policies and sector-based exclusions: To date, we have applied these policies to all our funds, but related exclusions are not currently applied to all client mandates. During 2020, this will become the default approach for new mandates, and we will approach existing clients to seek their approval to apply the policy to existing mandates. 

4.     Forward-looking perspective – the ‘3Es’: As set out in Part II of our GSS, we will measure our exposure to key issues across our full assets under management, and undertake related research in support of all investment processes.

5.     ‘Sustainable +’ solutions: these include our Enhanced ESG, thematic and impact investing strategies, enabling investors to allocate to sustainable investment opportunities.

Together, these approaches strengthen the way we invest, including how we generate investment ideas, construct optimal portfolios, control for risk, and use our influence with companies and markets. Further information on each of these components can be found in the GSS.

https://www.bnpparibas-am.com/en/sustainability/as-an-investor/


FI 02. ESG issues and issuer research (Private)


FI 03. Processes to ensure analysis is robust

03.1. Indicate how you ensure that your ESG research process is robust:

specify description

          Cooperation between ESG analysts and portfolio managers/sector analysts + joint meetings (PM + Sustainability CentreESG) with issuers.
        

03.2. Describe how your ESG information or analysis is shared among your investment team.

          ESG Champions have been appointed within each investment team as a first point of contact with our Sustainability Centre.
        

03.3. Additional information. [Optional]

In 2016, we developed an IT solution to store our ESG research and companies' ESG profiles. ESG scores are available in Aladdin, the firm's front to back solution.

In 2018 and 2019, we appointed ESG champions within each investment team to help promote ESG integration within their teams and to liaise with the Sustainability Centre. Trainings sessions are organised centrally, both for the ESG Champions as well as across investment teams, as we work to enhance the firm's overall capabilities on sustainability issues.


(A) Implementation: Screening

FI 04. Types of screening applied

04.1. Indicate the type of screening you conduct.

Select all that apply
SSA
Corporate (financial)
Corporate (non-financial)
Negative/exclusionary screening
Positive/best-in-class screening
Norms-based screening

04.2. Describe your approach to screening for internally managed active fixed income

All funds comply with our Responsible Business Conduct Policy which: 

  • Excludes companies in severe breach of the UN Global Compact Principles and OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (OECD MNEs Guidelines).
  • We have a series of sector policies that set out the conditions for investing in particular sectors, products and activities (e.g. agriculture, palm oil, nuclear).

  • We have another set of policies that commit us to exclude particular sectors or activities (tobacco, coal, controversial weapons or asbestos), as we deem them to be in violation of international norms, or to cause unacceptable harm to society and/or the environment, without counterbalancing benefits. These are generally sectors where engagement makes little sense.

Using our proprietary ESG scoring methodology, we avoid investing in a weakly rated entity (lowest decile) without actively engaging particularly on the key issues identified, and we may disinvest from weakly rated entities which do not respond to engagement.

A majority of Sustainable + funds must also exclude companies active in alcohol, tobacco, gambling, pornography, armament sector (if revenue >10% of the activity). 

Sustainable + funds with a Best-in-Class approach: We do not invest in companies belonging to the three lowest ESG scoring deciles.

04.3. Additional information. [Optional]

Implementation:

We are committed to ensuring the consistent implementation of our Responsible Business Conduct policy to all open-ended funds managed or delegated by BNP Paribas Asset Management entities, but related exclusions are not currently applied to all client mandates. This is now the default approach for new mandates, and we will approach existing clients to seek their approval to apply the policy to existing mandates.

Affiliated entities over which BNP Paribas Asset Management or the BNP Paribas Group do not have operational control are invited to adopt this strategy and implement the components of our Responsible Business Conduct Policy. Where we use affiliates or external investment managers for our open-ended funds, we expect them to incorporate Responsible Business Conduct policies in line with our sustainable investment philosophy.

In applying our Responsible Business Conduct Policy, we take into account specific circumstances as they relate to the environmental, social and governance practices of individual issuers. BNP Paribas Asset Management bases its judgment on data gathered from issuers and third-party research providers, and does its best to gather relevant information. However, it is dependent on the quality, accuracy and timeliness of the information collected.

We strive to implement this Policy in the best interest of our clients and operate at arms' length from the BNP Paribas Group and its subsidiaries or affiliate companies.

Our Responsible Business Conduct Policy is publicly available on BNP Paribas Asset Management's website and is reviewed regularly in order to reflect the evolution of ESG standards and market practices.


FI 05. Examples of ESG factors in screening process (Private)


FI 06. Screening - ensuring criteria are met

06.1. Indicate which systems your organisation has to ensure that fund screening criteria are not breached in fixed income investments.

Type of screening
Checks
Negative/exclusionary screening

other description

          Updated exclusions and watchlist are sent to investment teams monthly.
        
Positive/best-in-class screening

other description

          Updated exclusions and watchlist are sent to investment teams monthly.
        
Norms-based screening

other description

          Updated exclusions and watchlist are sent to investment teams monthly.
        

06.2. Additional information. [Optional]

Based on the UN Global Compact Principles, our sector policies and Sustainable + products that are Best in Class or thematic, the exclusion list and the buy list are programmed into our Compliance systems, which can block pre-trade and post-trade activity.

In case of a breach, an escalation process is activated, from on-screen alert messages and emails up to informing the CIO. The portfolio manager then has a maximum time frame of one month to sell the position in the best interest of the client.


(B) Implementation: Thematic

FI 07. Thematic investing - overview (Private)


FI 08. Thematic investing - themed bond processes

08.1. Indicate whether you encourage transparency and disclosure relating to the issuance of themed bonds as per the Green Bonds Principles, Social Bond Principles, or Sustainability Bond Guidelines..

08.2. Describe the actions you take when issuers do not disburse bond proceeds as described in the offering documents.

As explained previously if the issuer is not able to deliver an impact report describing how the proceeds have been allocated,  our decision is to downgrade the investment recommendation to OUT. That means that if the green bond was part of our green bond portfolio, the PM will sell the position within 4 weeks.

08.3. Additional information. [Optional]

Helena Viñes Fiestas, our Global Head of Stewardship and Policy and Deputy Global Head of Sustainability at BNPP AM, was appointed to the Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance, whose role is to assist the European Commission in the development of the EU taxonomy and the implementation of the EC Action Plan.This taxonomy aims at enforcing greater transparency in sustainable finance, to help prevent "green-" or "ESG-washing".


FI 09. Thematic investing - assessing impact

09.1. Indicate how you assess the environmental or social impact of your thematic investments.

09.2. Additional information. [Optional]

In 2019, the BNP Paribas Green Bond fund obtained the French Label GreenFin.


(C) Implementation: Integration

FI 10. Integration overview

10.1. Describe your approach to integrating ESG into traditional financial analysis.

At the core of all our investment processes, analysts and portfolio managers integrate a consideration of relevant ESG factors into their company, asset and sovereign evaluation and investment decision-making processes. As reflected in our investment beliefs, this process allows them to identify and assess areas of risk or opportunity which may not be understood by all market participants, and which may provide them with a relative advantage.

The process to integrate and embed ESG factors is guided by formal ESG Integration Guidelines. Critically, to support the ESG integration process and make sure that all investment strategies managed by BNPP AM are run in line with the ESG Integration Principles we set out, we set up an ESG Validation Committee. Between Q4 2018 and the end of 2019, each investment team presented its proposed ESG Integration Process for review and validation.

We put below some of the common ESG Integration Principles, which apply to all the strategies that are in the scope of our sustainable investment approach.

PHILOSOPHY

  • Sustainability is embedded in our investment philosophy.
  • All investment teams will implement our Global Sustainability Strategy.
  • We recognise that the level of ESG integration achievable over short to medium term horizons varies between asset classes and strategies.
  • Some common principles for ESG integration will apply across all asset classes, while others are asset class or strategy-specific.

INVESTMENT PROCESS

  • Each investment team is fully responsible for their investment process, and all investment research, analysis and decisions resulting from the application of this process.
  • Investment teams are ultimately responsible for the integration of ESG factors in their investment processes.

RESEARCH

  • ESG analysis on individual entities will concentrate on those factors deemed to be material for the respective sector by the Sustainability Centre, with input from the investment teams.
  • Qualitative ESG analysis on individual entities will primarily be undertaken within the investment teams, in collaboration with the Sustainability Centre.
  • We will avoid investing in a public entity without an ESG score, performing qualitative ESG analysis in the absence of a quantitative ESG rating.
  • We will avoid investing in a private entity without performing ESG due diligence (which could include qualitative analysis, or receiving a completed ESG questionnaire).

EXCLUSIONS

  • We will not invest in companies in violation of the UN Global Compact Principles, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights or the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (OECD MNE Guidelines).
  • Companies struggling to meet the standards laid down in the UN Global Compact Principles, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights or OECD MNE Guidelines will be put on a watch list (or not invested in)
  • We will implement BNPP AM's sector policies, in collaboration with the BNP Paribas Group.

STEWARDSHIP AND ENGAGEMENT

  • We will actively own our passive investments through stewardship, engagement and voting.
  • We will avoid investing in a weakly rated entity without actively engaging (or planning to actively engage in the near future) particularly on the key issues identified.
  • Holdings of weakly-rated public entities will need to be justified by additional qualitative analysis integrating ESG factors, working closely with the sustainability centre.
  • As a last resort, we may disinvest from weakly rated entities which do not respond to engagement, and which show no sign that they will place greater emphasis on sustainability considerations in the future.

KPIS AND REPORTING

  • Integrating ESG factors into our investment processes should have a measurable positive impact on the ESG characteristics of our portfolios.
  • We should aim to hold portfolios with more positive ESG characteristics than their respective (invested) benchmarks. This includes holding portfolios with a lower carbon footprint than their respective (invested) benchmarks.Note:The initial focus for the above KPIs is corporate issuer scores (e.g. sovereigns, derivatives and cash excluded at this stage). 

BNP Paribas AM portfolio managers have access to ESG research and scores (with ongoing coverage extensions still underway in some pockets, such as quasi-sovereign and US High Yield). This comes as a complement to their financial/fundamental analysis.

10.2. Describe how your ESG integration approach is adapted to each of the different types of fixed income you invest in.

SSA

Our ESG research team has developed dedicated ESG methodologies to assess sovereign, supranational and agencies issuers. The scores have been used by SRI fixed income portfolio managers for more than ten years in our SRI funds (now called Sustainable + funds).

In 2018 and 2019, we developed an ESG scoring methodology that facilitates the incorporation of ESG considerations into SSA Fixed income investing. 

There are two levels of analysis in BNPP AM scoring methodology for sovereigns, and emphasis is put on Climate Change, considering the current environmental and geopolitical – following the signature of the Paris Agreement in 2015 – context. The two levels are:

  1. The ESG Performance quantitative assessment. This assessment is now sensitive to countries’ income level, to build rankings by comparing like with like.
  2. An overlay that consists in: 
  • A Climate overlay. The Climate overlay is determined by an assessment of the countries’ commitment (Nationally Determined Contributions) to reduce their GHG emissions to comply with the goals of the Paris Agreement (keep climate change below 2 degrees). This assessment follows an innovative methodology developed by Beyond Ratings. The Climate overlay also uses information on the countries’ policies adopted for tackling climate change, provided by the London School of Economics.
  • A Qualitative adjustment. The qualitative adjustment is determined by investment teams’ view on the evolution of countries’ policies & results from potential engagement with countries.

This research is made available to all investment teams, and influences different investment processes in different ways. For example, sovereigns SRI funds exclude bottom 3 deciles. Or emerging funds apply the “better than the benchmark rule”

Finally, BNPP AM is committed to actively engage with regulators, in order to help shaping the markets and the rules that guide and govern companies’ behaviour.

 

Corporate (financial)

We are able to assess ESG issues on both quantitative and qualitative aspects. The qualitative overlay takes into account a forward looking analysis based on the firm-wide strategy and ambition.

The ESG analysis of issuers is carried out by grouping companies into peer groups based on geographic, sectorial and sample size considerations.

By creating a strong analytical framework around ESG research, the ESG team is able to make an independent judgement on companies' performance on a range of ESG indicators most relevant and material to their sector.  

Our proprietary scoring methodology combines a quantitative scoring methodology, which is currently being enhanced, and a qualitative assessment. It then enables an ESG ranking of issuers. This information is disseminated firm-wide.

ESG analysts monitor and follow the sector's ESG evolution and the companies' ESG behaviour throughout the year. When a company faces a relevant change and/or controversy, it will be monitored and a meeting may be set up with the company. Depending on the outcome of the meeting, the analyst may raise or lower the company's score and rating (or even propose that the company be put on the exclusion list, depending on the nature of the issue/controversy).  

As explained in section 04, Responsible Business Conduct and sector policies exclusions are reviewed quarterly - information from our external provider on UN Global Compact breaches is reviewed internally by our ESG research & Stewardship teams. They are then presented to the Sustainability Committee chaired by our CEO for final approval four times a year.

Finally, beyond integrating ESG evaluations into their investment decisions, the different FI teams may further integrate ESG into their risk ratings and analysis. For example, our Global Credit team integrate ESG-related risks at each step of their analysis process, thanks to a systematic Sustainability Risk Assessment.

Corporate (non-financial)

Please refer to the answer above

10.3. Additional information [OPTIONAL]


FI 11. Integration - ESG information in investment processes

11.1. Indicate how ESG information is typically used as part of your investment process.

Select all that apply
SSA
Corporate (financial)
Corporate (non-financial)
ESG analysis is integrated into fundamental analysis
ESG analysis is used to adjust the internal credit assessments of issuers.
ESG analysis is used to adjust forecasted financials and future cash flow estimates.
ESG analysis impacts the ranking of an issuer relative to a chosen peer group.
An issuer`s ESG bond spreads and its relative value versus its sector peers are analysed to find out if all risks are priced in.
The impact of ESG analysis on bonds of an issuer with different durations/maturities are analysed.
Sensitivity analysis and scenario analysis are applied to valuation models to compare the difference between base-case and ESG-integrated security valuation.
ESG analysis is integrated into portfolio weighting decisions.
Companies, sectors, countries and currency and monitored for changes in ESG exposure and for breaches of risk limits.
The ESG profile of portfolios is examined for securities with high ESG risks and assessed relative to the ESG profile of a benchmark.
Other, specify in Additional Information

11.2. Additional information [OPTIONAL]

For the ‘ESG analysis is integrated into portfolio weighting decisions’ analysis – with SSA, this relates to our EMD and Best in Class portfolios. Developed sovereign strategies consider issuer ESG related indicators but do not systematically reflect them in portfolio weights.


FI 12. Integration - E,S and G issues reviewed

12.1. Indicate the extent to which ESG issues are reviewed in your integration process.

Environment
Social
Governance
SSA

Environmental

Social

Governance

Corporate (financial)

Environmental

Social

Governance

Corporate (non-financial)

Environmental

Social

Governance

12.2. Please provide more detail on how you review E, S and/or G factors in your integration process.

SSA

Please refer to question 10.1 on our ESG integration process.

Corporate (financial)

ESG sector reviews and ESG scores are shared with all portfolio managers within the organisation through our network of ESG champions and the use of IT tools.

We are moving towards a more systematic integration of ESG elements in all the PMs investment processes.

Please refer to question 10.1 on ESG integration process

Corporate (non-financial)

 Please refer to the previous answer.

12.3. Additional information.[OPTIONAL]


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