RI annual review

AXA IM – active and responsible

We have seen many changes in the past year, such as challenging new regulations, an acceleration in the digital revolution and continued innovation from ‘younger’ players in the market. Change is nothing new and in business it is necessary to embrace it in order to achieve long-term success. While doing so, we strive to reinforce the strengths and qualities that have been nurtured over time, adapting our approach to maintain a competitive advantage in those areas. 

We are responsible

At AXA IM responsible investing is an ethos not just an investment approach. We were an early mover in this space, identifying the important role that finance plays in fostering a society that supports fairness and equity, as well as an environment that can sustain us in the future. These beliefs are core to our identity as a company and we have invested time, resources and assets over many years in a bid to serve that purpose. 

There are many facets to responsible investing and it pervades our entire company. Across the business we have seen our Rosenberg equities platform make great strides in integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria throughout their entire investment process. It is our ambition that in time ESG analysis will be integrated into all of the portfolios we manage for clients and we continue to take significant steps to move in this direction in 2018. We are investing further in our responsible investing (RI) expertise by ensuring each of our investment teams has a dedicated RI specialist in place to progress this goal.

We are active long-term investors

In addition to ESG integration, we are also proactive stewards of our clients’ assets. Acting in our clients’ best interests includes holding companies to account and guiding them to act responsibly on issues such as climate change, human capital and diversity. Our role as active investors supports this philosophy. We do not passively follow the crowd and simply accept the status quo. From innovative data modelling techniques to meetings with countless management teams, our continued investment into functions that support our thorough fundamental analysis shows that we are committed to directing our clients’ funds into those companies we believe will deliver the best performance over the longer term. Using our role as an active manager and active steward we leverage the financial system in the responsible way it was originally intended – to direct capital to its most useful long-term need. 

We are committed to making investing easier

As the world moves towards greater responsibility and accountability, regulation will continue to play a key role. There was clear evidence of this in 2017 when France’s Article 173 came into effect, requiring financial institutions to disclose how they are approaching the transition to a low-carbon economy. In continuing our efforts to make investing easier for our clients, we have developed an award-winning1 standardised framework for reporting on climate-related risks. This framework helps our clients clearly identify, measure and communicate on their efforts towards combatting climate change. We are working on ever more sophisticated tracing tools to provide our clients even greater visibility and clarity on their ESG investments.

We are investing in diversity

Being a responsible investor also means looking at how we operate our business internally. In 2017, we have notably focused our efforts on gender diversity by signing the Women in Finance charter2, and undertaking a thorough analysis of our gender diversity using the world-leading EDGE3 certification tool. The under-representation of women in the workforce, and particularly in senior and investment positions, is a global challenge for the asset management industry. We are taking concrete actions to address gender imbalance at AXA IM and have defined key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the ‘impact’ of these actions, which among others include; meeting the target of 40% female senior executives globally by 2020, delivering inclusive recruitment training to all hiring managers and ensuring gender-balanced hiring panels for senior executive roles.  We know that delivering on our gender diversity targets not only creates a more enriched culture, it is also essential to the commercial success of our business. Companies with higher levels of gender balance and inclusive cultures have better insights into their customers and market opportunities, make better decisions and perform better financially.

We have seen some great success across our business over the last year in terms of responsible investment and have continued in our commitment to delivering a superior experience to our customers, while taking actions to be a responsible employer. We have much to be proud of, and I am confident we have what it takes to succeed in helping our clients to make an impact through their investments.

1 Prix International du Meilleur Reporting Climatique des Investisseurs from the French Environment Ministry in 2016. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The references to league tables and awards are not an indicator of the future places in league tables or awards and such information is necessarily evolutionary.
2 Signatories of the Women in Finance charter publicly pledge their goal to increase female representation within their senior executive population. AXA IM set itself a target of 40% female senior executives globally by 2020.
3 Economic Dividends for Gender Equality