As of July 20, 2020, Sun Life Global Investments (Canada) Inc. changed its name to SLGI Asset Management Inc. It will take some time to update our websites, materials and forms and until that is complete, all references to Sun Life Global Investments (Canada) Inc. will mean SLGI Asset Management Inc. We’ve also brought together Sun Life mutual fund, segregated fund, annuity and guaranteed investment product businesses under the collective brand of Sun Life Global Investments.

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

We are committed to responsible investing

We believe in integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into portfolio construction; ESG is the best way to create long-term sustainable value.

We are committed to responsible investing

We believe in integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into portfolio construction; ESG is the best way to create long-term sustainable value.

 

From clean energy, to labour standards or board composition, what a company does can have direct and long-lasting implications for its business. That is why SLGI Asset Management Inc. supports the United Nations' (UN) Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).

This underscores the critical importance we see in making environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors a key part of our investment strategy. Does this make good business sense? It does, because increasingly issues surrounding governance, environmental risk or a company’s social reputation can directly affect an investment’s performance.

Our commitment to ESG integration centres on the selection of our sub-advisors. They must clearly show how ESG considerations factor into their investment analysis and decision-making. This not only gives us more confidence in the sustainability of value generation, it also helps manage risk – which sits at the core of our investment philosophy.

But it does not end there. We rigorously assess and evolve our portfolios, measure results and submit annual reporting to the UN’s PRI program. This transparency validates our commitment to firmly integrating ESG considerations into our investment process.  

Background: The Principles for Responsible Investment

In 2005, the UN invited some of the world’s largest institutional investors to help develop the Principles for Responsible Investment. Since then, the number of financial companies signing on to the program has grown from 100 to over 3,000 representing almost US$100 trillion in assets1.

 

Our involvement began when Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, signed on to the UN’s PRI initiative. As an affiliate, it also committed SLGI to meeting the UN’s PRI goals, anchored to these six core Principles1:

  • Incorporate ESG factors into our investment analysis and decision-making processes.
  • Be active owners and incorporate ESG issues into our ownership policies and practices.
  • Seek appropriate disclosure on ESG issues from the entities in which we invest.
  • Promote acceptance and implementation of the Principles across the industry.
  • Work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the Principles.
  • Report on our activities and progress towards implementing the Principles.

1Source: www.unpri.org/about-the-pri

How we build ESG into our investment strategy

To understand how we integrate ESG into our day-to-day work, let’s start with an overview of what we do. SLGI Asset Management Inc. is the Portfolio Manager of a suite of managed solutions as well as stand-alone strategies. Our managed solutions include allocations between various asset categories, regions and management styles, using sub-advisors from around the globe.

Our ESG activities in both cases centre on manager selection and ongoing monitoring. We expect our sub-advisors to consider ESG issues at every step of the investment process. This may include comprehensive security and industry analysis, forward-looking portfolio construction and ongoing risk management and monitoring.

Our objective is to assess the long-term sustainability of each investment strategy’s value proposition. Importantly, prospective and current sub-advisors have to demonstrate how ESG considerations factor into their investment decisions to support overall value generation and risk management.

In keeping with our commitment to hold our sub-advisors to account, we monitor each sub-advisor across a broad range of criteria, including ESG integration. This includes quantitative analysis of the portfolio. As well, they are required to complete an in-depth, annual questionnaire that clearly outlines their approach to ESG, and are subject to ongoing monitoring. And, if necessary, we engage with the sub-advisor to help enhance the effectiveness of a strategy’s ESG integration.

In addition, we use third-party tools to measure each portfolio’s ESG characteristics versus their respective investable universes. We also compare how fund characteristics change, both over time and versus peers to identify areas that may require further analysis or engagement.

Further to reviewing how ESG factors are being incorporated in a portfolio today, we also monitor how the process evolves over time to validate that our sub-advisors continue to improve practices, acting as responsible stewards of investors’ assets.

We also emphasize active ownership through proxy voting. A proxy vote gives shareholders a say in specific corporate initiatives. We require each of our sub-advisors to have proxy-voting policies in place and to vote all proxies in the best interest of our unitholders.  We also review proxy-voting records to validate that voting is in line with stated policies and objectives.

Reporting to the UN on our progress

By committing to the UN’s PRI initiative, we are required to disclose our progress on achieving sustainable outcomes in an annual report in collaboration with the broader Sun Life organization. In addition, SLGI publicly reports its sustainable investing activities and milestones in Sun Life annual Sustainability Report. Our work within Sun Life allows us to share best practices, and leverage resources to engage with various public task forces and participate in sustainable investing initiatives. 

Information contained in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to provide specific financial, tax, insurance, investment, legal or accounting advice and should not be relied upon in that regard and does not constitute a specific offer to buy and/or sell securities.  Views expressed regarding a particular company, security, industry or market sector should not be considered an indication of trading intent of any mutual funds managed by SLGI Asset Management Inc. These views are not to be considered as investment advice nor should they be considered a recommendation to buy or sell.

Please note, any future or forward looking statements contained in this article are speculative in nature and cannot be relied upon. There is no guarantee that these events will occur or in the manner speculated. Please speak with your professional advisors before acting on any information contained in this article.

Sun Life Global Investments is a trade name of SLGI Asset Management Inc., Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada and Sun Life Financial Trust Inc.

© SLGI Asset Management Inc. and its licensors, 2020. SLGI Asset Management Inc. is a member of the Sun Life group of companies. All rights reserved.