Message from the CEO
Michael Baldinger, Chief Executive Officer RobecoSAM
“We will continue to encourage companies to report on the positive financial impacts of their sustainability initiatives, which will in turn help convince asset owners to embrace Sustainability Investing.”
2014 Corporate Sustainability Assessment*
1,995 companies assessed.
93,333 documents processed.
1,418,298 data points collected.
This is the Sustainability Yearbook 2015.
* As of October 31, 2014
I am thrilled to kick off the 20th Anniversary of RobecoSAM’s founding with the publication of the 2015 edition of The Sustainability Yearbook. We have come a long way since we first established a small office next to Lake Zurich with the vision of using the financial markets to drive sustainable business practices. Back then, corporate sustainability was a vague concept that few companies and even fewer investors considered. But driven by the core belief that sustainable companies are more successful, a generation of RobecoSAM professionals has endeavored to convince companies and asset owners to embrace sustainability as a means of generating shareholder value. Twenty years later, this conviction remains unchanged.
This year’s edition of The Sustainability Yearbook is the culmination of two decades’ worth of rigorous research
and continuous dialogue with thousands of companies. But there still seems to be a language barrier between companies and the investment community when it comes to corporate sustainability. In order to capture a complete picture of a company’s true value, investors need quantitative sustainability data that is both comparable and financially relevant. This is where integrated reporting of financially material sustainability data comes in. Our Head of Sustainability Application and Operations Ida Ljungkvist offers an overview of the current corporate sustainability reporting landscape, and examines the recent progress companies have made in providing sustainability information in a language that resonates with investors.
But once we have this information, what exactly do we do with it? How does it affect our understanding of a company’s long-term fair value? Through a series of company valuation examples, Christopher Greenwald, RobecoSAM’s Head of Sustainability Investing Research, sheds light on how we incorporate the information from our Corporate Sustainability Assessment into our financial models.
Corporate taxation has increasingly become the subject of public scrutiny as companies operating in multiple countries have found ways to optimize their tax structures. However, corporate taxation structures that are overly aggressive can pose direct and indirect financial risks to the companies themselves and investors alike. With this in mind, RobecoSAM recently introduced a new framework for assessing companies’ awareness of their exposures to tax-related risks and the transparency of their tax reporting. Senior Sustainability Investing Analyst Matthias Müller highlights the preliminary findings of our corporate taxation criterion.
As always, The Sustainability Yearbook also provides an overview of the results of our annual Corporate Sustainability Assessment and highlights key trends shaping each of the 59 analyzed industries. The top scoring company in each industry is named the RobecoSAM Industry Leader, and companies listed in the Yearbook are classified into three categories: RobecoSAM Gold Class, RobecoSAM Silver Class and RobecoSAM Bronze Class.
Despite all the talk about Sustainability Investing, few investors – in particular pension funds – are truly integrating sustainability into their investment strategies. But clearly, there is strong public appetite for sustainability investing: Last year, we asked over 1,200 pension fund beneficiaries in Switzerland whether they want their pension funds to integrate sustainability into investment decisions. 72% of the respondents indicated that they want their pension fund to incorporate financially relevant sustainability factors into investment decisions, and 79% believe that sustainable investment strategies lead to better-informed long-term investment decisions. Such responses only bolster our conviction that Sustainability Investing is a business driver, and not merely a hygiene factor.
For this reason, we will continue to encourage companies to report on the positive financial impacts of their sustainability initiatives, which will in turn help convince asset owners, such as pension funds, to embrace Sustainability Investing.
Now it is up to all of us to mobilize our capital, and put sustainability to work over the next 20 years and beyond.