Describe how you ensure that you have access to the appropriate teams and team members at the company you engage with.
Vigeo Eiris has an established system for contacting companies that has developed as part of its standard ESG research cycle. A database of contacts is in place and can be used as a starting point for all engagement programmes. Each contact is checked before engagement is launched to ensure it is still current.
If the initial contact fails to respond to engagement requests Vigeo Eiris has a process of ‘escalation’ that it uses in order to identify who should be contacted next.
Describe how you ensure the client’s rationale and engagement objectives are being communicated clearly to the company.
We have developed a series of template letters that are used to begin all engagements. These letters draw heavily from our established, in house criteria and look to address the following:
• an introduction to the client
• an introduction to us as the research provider
• the motivation behind the engagement
• a short introduction to the ESG theme
• an outline of the company’s current performance
• details of the objectives required.
As each engagement progresses we rely less on templates and prefer to let the discussion develop organically. However, with experienced analysts running each engagement we are able to communicate the often complex issues clearly and succinctly.
Furthermore, as each engagement objective is directly linked to the Vigeo Eiris methodology we are able to refer to our detailed documentation and experience to ensure that we are communicating issues clearly and in a relevant, contemporary manner.
Describe how you adapt your engagement style to ensure you maintain a constructive relationship with the company that you are engaging with.
The engagement client holds a direct relationship with corporates, whilst Vigeo Eiris provides data and information on ESG topics in the client portfolio.
Letters request information with a polite tone, recognising the value of the measures already undertaken by the company. The letters open a dialogue that in most cases is constructive.
As indicated in response to SS 07.3 whilst each engagement begins with a ‘template’ letter all further communications are undertaken in line with our in-house methodology but with a certain amount of analyst discretion.
Feedback received from companies indicates that this is a method they appreciate; engagement can be a resource intensive process for both the engager and company being contacted and this process allows us to demonstrate to the company that their comments have been recognised and acted upon, whilst simultaneously allowing us to develop engagement strategies as necessary.
Maintaining this flexibility is a key feature of our service. It allows us to accurately recommend when an engagement might benefit from a more ‘hard line’ approach and when it might be more productive to give the company some additional time to meet its objectives. The balance between maintaining flexibility whilst simultaneously managing a large number of engagements for multiple clients is one of our greatest strengths.
Having a large and experienced analyst base with multiple offices around the world allows us to draw upon significant international experience to adapt our approach by market place and account for cultural/language differences. We have had particular success in engaging with Japanese companies and have native Japanese speakers based both in London and Tokyo who are able to either draft or check existing letters both in terms of language and tone. Likewise, our team of analysts specifically working on engagement includes a native Mandarin speaker who is able to draft letters to companies based in China. All languages which we are likely to engage in are covered by our global analyst base. Typically, engagements are launched in English. However, where we have local teams we provide engagement services in the client requested language for given companies (e.g. Italian in Italy).