Ircantec is a French public sector supplementary pay-as-you-go pension scheme which manages pensions for more than 4.9 million pensioners and active public-sector employees, including both national and local government employees and those working in hospitals. The scheme's responsibilities include a huge deferred membership as its future pensioners are non-civil service contract staff who have been employed in the public sector at least once in their lifetime. Ircantec thus manages part of the future pensions of 16 million workers in France. The scheme has statutory reserves (€ 12.596 billion on December 31st, 2019) managed in the medium and long term to guarantee the payment of pensions.
Ircantec defines its investment policy by three major concerns without any one of them taking precedence over the others:
• acting in the best long-term interests of its beneficiaries;
• optimizing the performance of its investments over the long term within risk limits accepted by the Institution. Financial performance is not the only objective;
• maintaining the consistency of the investment policy – while upholding its own collective values.
Ircantec’s identity shapes its values: the pay-as-you-go system binds together generations in a spirit of solidarity and fairness. To ensure fairness between generations, Ircantec has identified its priority as maintaining long-term capital which will contribute to the quality of life of future pensioners: financial capital for the payment of pensions, as well as environmental and social capital.
The importance given by the Institution to intergenerational solidarity gives meaning to its responsible investment approach which must meet three requirements:
• guarantee payment of pensions to current and future pensioners;
• contribute to preserving the natural environment for current and future pensioners;
• participate in social progress for current and future pensioners.
The value of intergenerational solidarity is also evident in the work of the Social Fund and the scheme’s patronage policy.
Aware of its responsibilities to its members and society, on December 18th 2008, the Ircantec Board of Trustees decided to adopt an SRI (Socially Responsible Investment) approach for its portfolio of assets. The Board took its inspiration from the preamble to the six Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) of the United Nations (UN):
«As institutional investors, we have a duty to act in the best long-term interests of our beneficiaries. In this fiduciary role, we believe that environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues can affect the performance of investment portfolios (to varying degrees across companies, sectors, regions, asset classes and through time). We also recognize that applying these Principles may better align investors with broader objectives of society».
On April 5th, 2016 the board of trustees has unanimously adopted a 4 years roadmap for investments based on four pillars:
1. In the context of increasing reserves, optimize the return on investments over the long term, within the limits of the risks accepted by the Institution and in line with its Responsible Investor Charter;
2. Strengthen the responsible investor approach;
3. Enroll in an investment trajectory compatible with a 2 ° C scenario by integrating climate issues into investments, and financing the transition to a low carbon economy, consistent with national and international commitments to limit global warming Climate change;
4. To be a benchmark investor in the field of supplementary retirement at European level, open to its peers and stakeholders in France and internationally.
Ircantec’s SRI approach aims to be simple, pragmatic and progressive.
Implementation of SRI principles
SRI principles also need to be integrated by all those in charge of the managing the scheme’s reserves.
1. The Board of Trustees (34 members) :
- defines the general guidelines for the SRI policy; it validates updates and extensions by referring to research work and exchanges with other investors;
- verifies the implementation of the principles by periodically reviewing their degree of integration into management processes; it supports its analysis by non-financial reports provided by a non-financial rating agency;
- refers to the Technical and Financial Steering Committee responsible for preparing the work of the Board related to the scheme’s investment policy.
2. In terms of day-to-day management, Caisse des Depots (CDC), the French-State managed long-term investment and economic development institution, acts as administrative fiduciary manager of our scheme. As portfolio management is outsourced to various external asset managers, CDC :
- assists the Board in developing its SRI policy and making proposals for its evolution in this context; it monitors developments in the SRI field;
- communicates the Institution’s SRI policy to management companies and ensures compliance with the principles in the performance of their duties;
- periodically reports to the Board of trustees on the application of SRI principles in investment strategies.
3. Asset management companies:
- integrate Ircantec’s principles in their methodology and investment process;
- invest in line with the strategy and principles defined by the Board;
- notify how SRI principles are implemented in their management of and warn of any difficulties of application;
- identify and monitor the risks the financial investments may incur for the image and reputation of the scheme.
Asset management companies are selected by tender in view of their financial capabilities and their ability to meet the needs of Ircantec in this area. These companies must be PRI signatories and those who have not signed up must be able to explain their position on SRI.