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BT Financial Group

PRI reporting framework 2020

You are in Strategy and Governance » Promoting responsible investment

Promoting responsible investment

SG 09. Collaborative organisations / initiatives

09.1. Select the collaborative organisation and/or initiatives of which your organisation is a member or in which it participated during the reporting year, and the role you played.

Select all that apply

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Involvement of RI specialists in PRI workshops and events, such as the PRI Reporting Workshop, PRI in Person Conference and PRI & UNEP FI Conference.

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Westpac Group is a CDP investor signatory, this coverage includes BT and associated FUM.

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

BT has roles as both a lead engager and suppport investor for target companies.

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

BT is an active member of the IGCC, with three team members contributing to IGCC working groups throughout 2019. BT was lead sponsor of the 2019 IGCC confernce. 

 

          The Responsible Investment Association of Australasia (RIAA) is the peak industry body for professionals working in responsible investment in Australia and New Zealand.
        

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

BT is an active member of RIAA. BT participates in a number of RIAA events and in 2019 continued its ongoing sponsorship of the annual Responsible Investment Benchmark Report. RIAA’s annual Responsible Investment Benchmark Report is the region’s only comprehensive study on the size and growth of the Australasian responsible investment market. Widely used and cited by the financial services industry in Australasia and across the globe, the report is a trusted source charting all aspects of the rapidly expanding RI industry, and has been produced by RIAA for over 15 years.

BT is also a member of the RIAA Human Rights working group. 

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Westpac is actively participating in a number of working groups, across UNEP FI including participation in  the Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative. 

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Westpac is a founding signatory of the Global Compact Network Australia.

          Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative
        

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting year (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

BT contributed to the Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative in 2019, with three staff members involved in the Technical Working Groups. The Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative has been established to set out a roadmap for realigning the finance sector to support greater social, environmental and economic outcomes for the country.

          Australian Financial Services Council (FSC)
        

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting year (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

BT is an active member of the FSC and BT holds a position on the Investment Committee and the ESG and Impact Investing Working Group.

          Montreal Pledge
        

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting year (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

BT is a signatory to the Montreal Pledge.

          Actuaries Institute Climate Change Working Group (Australia)
        

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting year (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

BT representatives were involved in the working group's workplan through 2019.


SG 09.2. Assets managed by PRI signatories

Indicate approximately what percentage (+/- 5%) of your externally managed assets under management are managed by PRI signatories.

95 %

SG 10. Promoting RI independently

10.1. Indicate if your organisation promotes responsible investment, independently of collaborative initiatives.

10.2. Indicate the actions your organisation has taken to promote responsible investment independently of collaborative initiatives. Provide a description of your role in contributing to the objectives of the selected action and the typical frequency of your participation/contribution.

Description

          BT operates a number of formal and informal training programs, that incorporate RI principles and foundations. This includes a suite of tools and communication to educate investors on sustainable investing - see www.bt.com.au/sustainability. BT produced a short video, a downloadable e-book and a number of short articles highlighting new research regarding responsible investment, BT's own approach and how to adopt a responsible investment approach. These are available through a number of internal and external channels, including through https://www.bt.com.au/professional/knowledge-centre/market-insights.html

BT was also the lead  sponsor for the biennial IGCC conference. The IGCC conference hosts more than 250 professionals from across the finance industry to hear from leading Australian, New Zealand and international experts on climate change impacts and investment solutions.
        

Frequency of contribution

Description

          In 2019 BT continued its ongoing sponsorship of the annual RI Benchmark Report conducted by Responsible Investment Association of Australasia (RIAA). RIAA's annual Responsible Investment Benchmark Report is the region's only comprehensive study on the size and growth of the Australasian responsible investment market. Widely used and cited by the financial services industry in Australasia and across the globe, the report is a trusted source charting all aspects of the rapidly expanding RI industry, and has been produced by RIAA for over 15 years.
        

Frequency of contribution

Description

          BT has made sustainability scoring available and transparent on its investment platform, Panorama, giving advisers, accountants and investors access to ESG research on managed funds and securities. This functionality is also available to users of our retail platforms BT Invest and BT Super Invest, providing investors with information to incorporate Responsible Investment principles into their process.

Through our ongoing sponsorship of the RIAA benchmark survey BT supports greater transparency and disclosure within the Australasian responsible investment market.
        

Frequency of contribution

Description

          In 2019 representatives from BT spoke publicly at a number of events and conferences to discuss and promote responsible investment including the IGCC conference and the launch of the RIAA benchmark report.
        

Frequency of contribution

Description

          BT regularly conducts research into responsible investment , with a focus on consumer attitudes and barriers to responsible investment. During the reporting period BT published results from in house research on this topic, available at https://www.bt.com.au/about-bt/media-centre/media-releases/archives/2018/bt-media-release-18-october.html
        

Frequency of contribution

Description

          We continue to encourage our investment managers who are not PRI signatories to sign up to the principles. 
Most of our investment managers are signatories, and we encourage them to evolve their sustainable investment practices, as outlined in the examples in the SAM module.
        

Frequency of contribution

Description

          In 2019 BT wrote, published or participated in a number of articles across various media channels to promote and discuss responsible investment principles and developments, this included through internal channels bt.com.au/insights and Westpac.com.au/news.
        

Frequency of contribution

10.3. Describe any additional actions and initiatives that your organisation has taken part in during the reporting year to promote responsible investment [Optional]

BT participates in a number of collaborative working groups through our involvement in industry groups including the Responsible Investment Association of Australasia (RIAA), Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) and Financial Services Commission (FSC) and the Australian Sustainable Finance Inttative (ASFI)

During the year BT was represented on:

  • IGCC’s Policy and Transparency and Thought Leadership Working Groups;
  • FSC's ESG Working Group, which promotes best practice stewardship; 
  • FSC's Impact Investing Working Group, which provides discussion and guidance on the incorporation of impact investing for financial services companies in Australia; and
  • RIAA's Human Rights Working Group, which is a forum for discussion on the incorporation of human rights considerations into the investment process and guidance regarding the adoption of Australia's Modern Slavery Act.
  • ASFI Co-ordinating Working Group, Technical Working Group 2:Sustainable financial system and Technical Wokring Group 4: Meeting community expectations. BT is represented by Westpac Group on the Steering Committee 

SG 11. Dialogue with public policy makers or standard setters

11.1. Indicate if your organisation - individually or in collaboration with others - conducted dialogue with public policy makers or regulators in support of responsible investment in the reporting year.

If yes

11.2. Select the methods you have used.

specify description

          Through participation in RIAA, IGCC and FSC and providers Regnan and EOS, we undertake engagement with policy makers and regulators in support of RI
        

11.3. Where you have made written submissions (individually or collaboratively) to governments and regulatory authorities, indicate if these are publicly available.

11.4. Provide a brief description of the main topics your organisation has engaged with public policy-makers or regulators on.

BT regularly engages directly with policy-makers and regulators on a range of topics that impact the wealth management industry in Australia, and our business. This includes regulatory changes relating to superannuation, financial advice, insurance or other investment products as well as in regards to specific issues or concerns, of example climate change and human rights.

In 2019 BT contributed to a number of collective engagements relating to ESG issues in Australia, this included submissions to and discussion with the Department of Home Affairs by the FSC and RIAA in regards to information and guidance for implementation of the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Legislation and the Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) in regards to Energy and Climate Change Policy developments in Australia.

Regnan's engagement on public policy or with regulators has included:

  • CPS511 submission (not yet released by the regulator at the time of writing, will be available at https://www.apra.gov.au/consultation-on-remuneration-requirements-for-all-apra-regulated-entities) 
  • Australian  Sustainable Finance Initiative (ASFI) Developing an Australian Sustainable Finance Roadmap: Progress Report Summary https://www.sustainablefinance.org.au/ 
  • Attended the PRI Sustainable Finance Policy Conference, an input to its whitepaper Taking stock: Sustainable finance policy engagement and policy influence available from the link at https://www.unpri.org/pri/pri-blog/pris-first-sustainable-finance-policy-conference-heres-what-we-discussed 

EOS at Federated Hermes (EOS) contributes to the development of policy and best practice on environmental, social and governance matters and shareholder rights to protect and enhance the value of the shareholdings of its clients over the long term.

In 2019, in relation to environmental concerns, Saker Nusseibeh, CEO of Hermes Investment Management, and Bruce Duguid, head of stewardship at EOS, attended a two-day Vatican summit on the energy transition, along with CEOs from major oil companies, asset managers and asset owners. The summit highlighted the need for urgent action on the climate emergency and focused on three key issues: a just transition to a low carbon economy; introducing reliable and meaningful carbon pricing; and transparency in reporting climate risks. Mr Nusseibeh signed two accords on behalf of Hermes on carbon pricing and transparency of financial risks, showing its commitment to taking genuine action on the climate crisis.

EOS is also an active member of the PRI’s Plastics Investor Working Group, advising on strategy and engagement. EOS gave feedback on the research for three PRI reports published in 2019, setting out what investors would find useful. The three reports explore why plastic is a problem, plastic value chain risks and opportunities, and how the plastic landscape is changing. The aim is to help investors identify where and how their portfolios might be exposed to plastic, so they can engage at the corporate and policy levels accordingly.

With regard to social issues, EOS responded to the UK Home Office’s consultation on potential revisions to the Modern Slavery Act and argued for a requirement to report on all six of the currently recommended areas, instead of adopting a ‘comply or explain’ approach. It supported the creation of a registry to enable stakeholders, including investors, to access companies’ modern slavery statements. It argued that a central registry should include a list of the companies caught by the Act’s reporting requirement, regardless of whether they had submitted a compliant statement.

EOS supported ‘Find It, Fix It, Prevent It’, a collaborative initiative to combat modern slavery. This calls on UK-listed companies to increase their efforts to address this issue and to support the provision of remedy to victims. And as an advisory committee member of the PRI cobalt supply chain collaborative engagement, EOS was the only investor representative to attend an OECD-led field trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo to see first-hand the human rights challenges, particularly around artisanal-scale mining. EOS also participated in an on-site OECD roundtable, sharing its perspective and experience with local and international stakeholders.

In relation to governance, EOS contributed to several reviews and consultations looking at ways to overhaul the UK audit sector, including the Competition and Market Authority’s study, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy consultation and the Brydon Review. In the consultations EOS expressed its concerns about audit quality, and called for more professional scepticism, with auditors prepared to challenge management, rather than taking a tick-box approach.

In the US, following moves by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to restrict rights relating to shareholder proposals and regulate proxy adviser activity, EOS wrote to the SEC pointing out that proxy advisers are contractual agents of institutional investors, not of the companies who are the subjects of their research. 

EOS also joined an Asian Corporate Governance Association delegation to South Korea to engage with regulators, government departments and businesses on ways to improve corporate governance there. During the trip EOS urged stakeholders to do more to stimulate the economy and encourage entrepreneurialism, without diluting corporate governance standards. EOS argued against the proposed introduction of dual-class share structures, which may threaten minority shareholder rights. EOS also expressed the need for clearer guidance on the so-called 5% rule, whereby shareholders with a 5% stake in a company must state if they plan to influence management. The law was conceived as an anti-takeover measure but there are concerns it could make some asset owners reluctant to adopt the country’s stewardship code due to uncertainty about the legitimacy of engaging with companies on corporate governance.


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