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Profundo

Service Providers Framework 2020

You are in Strategy and Governance » Policy on ESG beliefs

Policy on ESG beliefs

SG 01. Responsible investment policy

01.1. Describe how your organisation’s philosophy incorporates environmental, social and governance factors, and the link to your business offerings.

Profundo is a mission driven research and advisory firm: “With profound research and advice, Profundo aims to make a practical contribution to a sustainable world and social justice”. The irresponsible patterns in which the global community produces, processes, and consumes natural resources, as well as distributes the wealth and wellbeing derived from these resources, are not just destroying biodiversity, the environment and the climate. They also destabilize societies, create conflicts and human rights violations, and exacerbate social inequality. To change these patterns and create more sustainability and social justice, many different stakeholders need to change course: governments, companies, consumers and financial institutions, to name some of the most important. For all of them, changing course is difficult and inhibited by existing rules and regulations, ingrained habits and practices, outdated technologies, as well as vested interests. To support the movement towards more sustainability and social justice, the profound research and advice we are offering is much needed. We see it as our role to unravel the facts, to analyse the patterns, to expose the vested interests. But also to show the options for change, to look for solutions and to stimulate stakeholders to change course. Our research and advice should be used as a lever for change, providing insights as well as opportunities. Over the years, Profundo has been actively supporting NGOs, financial institutions, and governments in their mission towards sustainable development. In responsible investment, our experience builds upon a long history of comparative research on financial institutions regarding various environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, such as human rights, nature and biodiversity, climate change, corruption, taxes and subsidies, conflict areas, and undemocratic regimes.

01.2. Indicate whether you have policies that formalise the incorporation of your ESG beliefs in your business offerings.

01.5. Additional information [OPTIONAL]

As Profundo is not an asset owner, nor an asset manager, we do not need a responsible investment policy. Moreover, our coverage of topics and the area of expertise is wide and diverse and the projects are customized to the needs of our clients, which makes it even more complicated to design a one-size-fits all policy. For the advisory services, we fall back on the knowledge and experience of previous research and assignments. We have a Strategy Paper that describes our mission and a Sustainability Policy for our own business operations in order to act in line with our mission. The objective of any assignment should always meet our mission regarding sustainable development.


SG 02. Norms used to develop policies (Not Applicable)


SG 03. Policy offerings to clients

03.1. Indicate whether you offer standard, off the shelf, policies to clients as part of your product offerings, and/or whether you create tailored versions for individual clients.

Off the shelf
Tailored
Asset class-specific RI guidelines
Sector-specific RI guidelines
Screening/exclusions policy
Engagement policy
(Proxy) voting policy
RI guidelines set out within the Investment Policy Statement (IPS)
RI guidelines set out in a freestanding RI policy
Multi-year RI implementation project plan
Conflict of interest management policy
Stockbroker allocation policy
Securities lending policy
Other, please specify (1)
Other, please specify (2)
Other, please specify (3)
None of the above

03.2. Provide a brief description of the key elements, any variations, or exceptions applying to these policies.

We advise institutional investors in designing and/or revising their RI policy. While doing so, client's motivation and interest is of utmost importance, however we guide them to include the most impactful and relevant aspects for their investment beliefs and investment policy, based on international standards on ESG factors, to be included in the RI policy. All offerings are tailormade and a description of key elements cannot be made. 

03.3. Additional information. [OPTIONAL]


SG 04. ESG/RI in business offerings

04.1. Briefly describe how you include ESG/RI factors as part of your business offerings.

Business area

Investment Consultancy

How you include ESG/RI factors

Profundo works for pension funds, asset managers, charity funds, wealth management, and other institutional investors that have the ambition to become a responsible and sustainable investor. With more than 25 years of experience, a strong reputation, and acknowledgement of many leaders in sustainability, Profundo differentiates itself from other service providers through its objective approach and in-depth knowledge of societal problems and concerns of NGOs. Profundo tailors its offerings to clients’ specific requirements. We offer several advisory services:  

  1. Responsible Investment (RI) policy evaluation and advice
  2. Development and evaluation of RI strategy
  3. Portfolio ESG analysis and risk assessment
  4. Impact investing advice
  5. Training and workshops

Our services mentioned above include responsible investment as our core belief and the offerings include designing strategy and approach to deal with wide range of ESG issues that are present in our clients’/ investors’ portfolio. 

Research and Data Provision

How you include ESG/RI factors

Profundo conducts research on various sustainability issues such as water scarcity, waste management, climate change, tax evasion, biodiversity, human rights encompassing a wide range of sectors/companies such as mining, oil and gas, weapons, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals. Therefore, we believe that ESG underlines all our research offerings and responsible investments are our expectation from the society at large. The most common formats of our research include:

  • Analysis of a chain or industry: In a study of a commodity chain or an industry (such as the biofuel industry, the electricity sector or the arms industry), we analyse who the major and influential players are. We examine trading and investment relationships, map controversial activities, and analyse the role banks and other financial institutions have.
  • Ranking investors in an industry: We research in what way financial institutions - such as banks, pension funds, insurers, asset managers, development banks and export credit agencies - are involved in financing controversial industries (such as the palm oil sector, coal mining industry or cluster munition manufacturers).
  • Assessment of responsible investment and financing policies: We compare responsible investment and financing policies of financial institutions with international standards, conventions and guidelines.

04.2. Indicate the roles in your organisation, and indicate for each whether they have oversight and/or implementation responsibilities for ESG/RI within the organisation.

Roles present in your organisation
Oversight/accountability for ESG/RI
Implementation of ESG/RI
Board
Directors
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Chief Operating Officer (COO), Chief Information Officer (CIO)
Other chief-level staff
Other heads of department

Please specify

          Coordinators
        

Please specify

          Researchers
        
Dedicated ESG/RI staff
Other role, specify (1)
Other role, specify (2)
Other role, specify (3)
None of the above

04.3. Indicate how you ensure ESG/RI expertise for the roles where there are RI oversight/accountability or implementation responsibilities.

04.4. Indicate whether your organisation has any ESG/RI linked incentives for its employees.

04.6. Describe how you ensure that your employees incorporate ESG/RI into services through other mechanisms than ESG/RI linked incentives.

As mentioned earlier, Profundo is a pure play ESG/sustainability research and advice firm. Including sustainability into our research and advice is in our DNA. Therefore, incentivising employees to include sustainability is marked Not Applicable.

04.7. Additional information [OPTIONAL]


SG 05. Outsourcing of services

05.1. Indicate whether you outsource some of your services. Report percentage of services outsourced as percentage for that specific business area.

Business area

SG 06. Providing training/education

06.1. Indicate whether you provide training/educational services on ESG/RI. Tick all that apply.

06.2. Describe the main components of your training/educational services on ESG/RI and any variations depending on the group you provide training/education to.

We provide training to the board/trustees of institutional investors and corporates to help them understand material sustainability related risks and opportunities. We help pension funds and other institutional investors understand the various high risk sectors that they may be exposed to due to their investing activities, via reports and webinars. When developing or revising RI policy for clients such as pension funds, we educate and update them on the trends and developments regarding international standards and initiatives on the topics they must consider.

06.3. Describe whether these training/educational services include any commercial elements.

          Most training/educational services are custom made and paid for by the client that requested the training.
        

06.4. Additional information. [OPTIONAL]


SG 07. Applying, advancing and promoting the PRI principles

07.1. Describe how your organisation applies, advances and promotes the PRI Principles.

We are signatories of PRI. We apply the PRI principles, amongst others, while designing RI policy for our clients. While advising our clients, we refer to PRI to stress the importance and relevance of responsible investing. To further expand our offerings or to widen our institutional investors client base, we often read PRI publications. We try to attend the PRI meetings as we find it a great opportunity to network.

Further, in our various reports on responsible investments, we encourage investors to join collaborative engagement platforms such as PRI, to increase their leverage on the companies and widen their engagement coverage.

07.2. Highlight whether there are any ways that your organisation would like to engage further with the PRI. [OPTIONAL]

We would like to become more active in the PRI Collaboration Platform and start or support engagement programs and in the PRI Academic Network to cooperate with researchers on studies.


SG 08. Actions taken to promote responsible investment

08.1. Indicate which of the following actions your organisation has taken to promote responsible investments during the reporting year, independently of collaborative initiatives.

08.2. Additional information. [OPTIONAL]


SG 09. Long term trends

09.1. Indicate which of the following long-term trends are addressed in your product outputs.

09.2. Explain how this long-term trend affects your product outputs.

Climate change risk research has been one of the most common topics of our research in the past years.

09.2. Explain how this long-term trend affects your product outputs.

Resource scarcity can be the occasion and motivation for doing research with questions such as: how to avoid the resources become scarce? What are the implications for nature and local communities when the search for specific resources is more complex, risky and expensive? This trend leads to concept of circular economy.

          Trends, market players, ESG risks and value chain analysis of commodities with increasing demand (i.e. soy, palm oil, sugar and livestock).
        

09.2. Explain how this long-term trend affects your product outputs.

Commodities such as soy, palm oil, sugar, cocoa, has been the focus of our research for various clients. These clients have major concerns about the implications of rising demand for these commodities, also considering the negative impact of current production.

          Land rights conflicts and pressure on biodiversity and human rights.
        

09.2. Explain how this long-term trend affects your product outputs.

Increasing pressure on available agricultural land, due to rising global population and demand for biofuels, leads to conflicts with local communities and deforestation and environmental degradation. These factors impact the investors risk return profile. Through our research and insights, investors can better manage these risks arising from their investments in various companies. 


SG 10. Interaction with asset owners

10.1. Indicate whether you interact with asset owner clients.

10.2. Indicate the typical frequency and type of interactions with your asset owner clients.

Type of interaction

Frequency

Frequency

Frequency

10.3. Additional information. [OPTIONAL]

To explain this indicator better in our context of work, we work on a project basis with asset owners. For example, we design their RI policy and/or advise them about the new upcoming trends and how they can incorporate those into their investment decisions. Therefore, we interact with our clients (asset owners) during the project on a regular basis. The meetings could be with anyone who is responsible for developing the RI policy or its implementation. 

 


SG 11. Aligning approach with investor goals

11.1. Describe how you typically align your organisation’s philosophy and approach to ESG/RI with your investor clients’ goals.

As an organization, we believe that investors have a tremendous responsibility to invest their money in companies/investment products that do not conflict with and preferably contribute to sustainable development. To promote responsible investment (RI), we advise institutional investors to formulate an advanced RI policy which covers topics such as climate change, biodiversity, deforestation, human rights, labour standards, weapons, animal welfare etc. To us, the more in-depth the policy is, the better will be the investment decisions and strategies to apply the policies. And in the process, we believe that we are working towards our organizational goal of creating a just and a sustainable world. 

11.2. Additional information. [OPTIONAL]

We do not have many institutional investor clients, but this area is aspirational and we would like to grow this business segment more in the near future.


SG 12. ESG recommendations not aligned with investor goals

12.1. Describe what steps you take, if any, when your ESG recommendations are not in line with your investor clients’ goals.

We try to convince the investor through our reports as ultimately it is the investor's decision. By highlighting the risks involved in a particular sector/company and quoting relevant best practices, we try to influence their decision.

12.2. Additional information. [OPTIONAL]


SG 13. Seeking feedback from clients

13.1. Indicate whether you seek feedback from clients on your RI/ESG services and product offerings

13.2. Describe how you use this feedback in your RI/ESG services and product offerings.

We have formulated a standard process of taking feedback from our clients and sharing it internally for learning purposes. Feedback process is a part of our overall project life cycle. We have designed a template that is shared with our clients after the completion of each project that we do. The feedback provided by the client is then shared with the project manager, team members, and other stakeholders to understand the areas that need improvement in our deliverables. By regularly following this practice we continuously endeavour to learn and enrich our research and advisory services.


SG 14. Managing conflicts of interest

14.1. Indicate whether your organisation has a policy for managing potential conflicts of interest.

14.2. Describe how you manage potential conflicts of interest.

We provide assessments of investment and finance policies of a number of financial institutions (on behalf of our NGO clients) and also advise financial institutions on how to improve their investment and finance policies (making it more sustainable and integrating ESG indicators). If the financial institutions rated in one research are also asking us for advice on their policy, we could have a conflict of interest. Therefore, we will not work for the financial institutions that are assessed by the Dutch coalition of the Fair Finance Guide International network. However, we offer RI policy advice and other services, such as writing thematic reports or analysing ESG risks of particular companies that can form a part of their investment decision process to other financial institutions, asset managers, and asset owners.

14.3. Describe how you ensure that company employees do not derive any personal gain from the use of information collected during your work process.

We have an Anti-Corruption and Fraud Policy in place that describes expected behaviour from all our employees. Our people are committed to perform their work with the utmost level of integrity.

14.4. Additional information. [OPTIONAL]

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