Responsible Investing

KBC is a pioneer and one of the largest players in Belgium in Responsible Investing (RI) for over 30 years. We want to give our clients the opportunity to invest in companies and countries that recognise their social and environmental responsibility. This allows us to jointly contribute to a more sustainable society and to help limit the adverse impact that businesses have on society

Responsible Investing

Growing awareness of social, governance and environmental issues has led to interest in Responsible Investing products among private and institutional investors. Responsible investing is a way of allowing clients to combine their financial goals with their concerns for the environment, social aspects and corporate governance.

KBC as pioneer since 1992

KBC has a long tradition of Responsible Investing. In 1992, it launched the first Responsible Investing fund in Belgium. Since then, we have regularly brought new solutions to the market and our methodology has become increasingly stringent. KBC Asset Management was also the first financial institution in Belgium to have its own RI research unit. We also endorse the UN Principles for Responsible Investment and have enshrined them in our general investment policy.

Since June 2021, KBC Asset Management has excluded utility companies that use thermal coal to generate electricity and all companies that extract thermal coal from all its actively managed funds. For RI funds, we go one step further by excluding all companies in the fossil fuels sector and by applying exclusion policies such as for gambling, conventional weapons, fur and speciality leather … .

Since its inception, KBC Group has been a signatory of the 'Towards Sustainability' quality label, which was developed at the initiative of Febelfin, the sector association for the Belgian financial services industry. As part of this commitment, KBC Group ensures that all the Responsible Investing products marketed in Belgium have obtained or are in the process of obtaining the label.

Regulatory framework

KBC Asset Management current RI framework is a KBC in-house but well proven and externally challenged framework. KBC Asset Management is further aligning this framework to new EU regulations such as SFDR and MiFID (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive): all RI funds are either article 8 or article 9 funds under the SFDR.

A full range of  Responsible Investing solutions

KBC offers a wide variety of responsible investing funds, ranging from traditional Responsible funds and ECO-Thematic funds, to the Impact Investing funds.

  • Responsible funds invest in companies and countries that promote sustainability features and mitigate climate change,
  • ECO-thematic funds invest in companies that provide a solution to a specific sustainability challenge such as water scarcity or climate change.
  • The Impact Investing funds invest in companies whose products and/or services have a positive impact on society and/or the environment.

KBC fund managers apply stringent screening methods for companies and countries

Thorough screening, based on strict and clear rules, is carried out to determine which companies and countries make up the investment universe for responsible investing solutions. We rule out investments in certain companies due to their controversial activities. We source information about companies from external research agencies specialising in sustainability research. KBC Asset Management puts a lot of emphasis on transparency and therefore makes the results of the screening available on its website.

How we guarantee independence

Responsible Investing stands or falls by its credibility. Therefore the sustainability policy and criteria are monitored by the Responsible Investing Advisory Board, which is fully independent of KBC. The body consists of leading academics from several universities, who are experts in fields like human rights, business ethics, biology and ecology. They operate in their own name and do not represent the institutions at which they are employed. They advise which screening methodology we should use and advise on the criteria for rating companies. They also help ensure that the screening is complete, thorough and accurate.

Proxy Voting: casting our vote as shareholder in the interest of our clients

KBC Asset Management pursues an active policy of Proxy Voting and Engagement. By exercising the rights attached to shares held by the investment funds and by making its voice heard at the annual general meetings of these companies, KBC aims to defend the interests of its clients and investors. KBC Asset Management applies this active voting policy to several different themes, recognising that business, corporate governance and sustainability issues all determine the value of a company in the medium and long terms. All these factors can have a significant impact on value creation or the return enjoyed by clients and investors. In 2022, we participated in 811 general meetings and voted on more than 9 000 resolutions.

For more information on KBC’s Responsible Investing funds, feel free to visit Responsible investing - KBC Banking & Insurance