KBC has been a pioneer and one of the largest players in Belgium in sustainable and responsible investing. We want to give our clients the opportunity to invest in sustainable 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. We aim to extend our offering of sustainable and responsible investment products, as they are gradually leaving their niche status and are becoming more and more mainstream.
Sustainable and responsible investments
Growing awareness of social and environmental issues has led to mounting interest in sustainable and responsible investment products among private and institutional investors. As it involves investing in well-managed companies with a long-term vision, these products not only meet economic risk/return demands, but also address specific social and environmental concerns. Sustainable and responsible investing is a way of allowing clients to combine their financial goals with their concerns for the environment, society and corporate governance.
KBC as pioneer since 1992
KBC has a long tradition of sustainable and responsible investments. In 1992, it launched the first sustainable investment 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 SRI research unit. We also endorse the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (www.unpri.org) and have enshrined them in our general investment policy.
Fully in line with our sustainability strategy, all SRI funds are fossil-free since November 2017. And in May 2018 KBC launched Pricos SRI, the first SRI pension savings fund on the Belgian market, fossil free and fully compliant with BEAMA sustainability criteria.
A full range of sustainable and responsible investment solutions
KBC offers a wide variety of sustainable investment funds, ranging from traditional Best-in-Class funds and Sustainability Themed funds, to the more recently added Impact Investing funds.
- Best-in-Class investment funds invest in companies or countries that are the best performers in terms of sound corporate governance, the environment and social themes.
- Sustainability Themed investment funds invest in companies that deliver a solution for such areas as climate change, the looming shortage of drinking water or the quest for alternative energy.
- The third category, Impact Investing funds, invests in companies whose goods and/or services clearly have a positive influence on our society. We look, in other words, for companies that make it their core business activity not only to generate a financial return, but also to contribute positively to society 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 sustainable and responsible investment solutions. We rule out investments in certain companies due to their controversial activities. We source information about companies from Sustainalytics, an independent research agency specialising in sustainability research. KBC Asset Management puts a lot of emphasis on transparency and therefore makes all its research results available on its website.
How we guarantee independence
Sustainable and responsible investing stands or falls by its credibility. Therefore the sustainability policy and criteria are monitored by the SRI 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 decide which screening methodology we should use and set the criteria for rating companies. They also ensure that 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. It does so by proxy, when deemed appropriate and necessary. 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.
For more information on KBC’s sustainable and responsible investments, feel free to visit www.kbc.be.