SRI of the Year

   Socially Responsible Investment
Programme of the Year
erstesparinvest_200.jpg Judges said entries into this field were all strong, showing how important the sector had become. Erste Sparinvest won this category on the basis of two funds, the Espa WWF Stock Umwelt and the Espa Vinis Stock Europe Emerging. Erste was able to demonstrate its commitment to the industry of socially responsible investing and to innovation in this area. With the WWF fund, Erste Sparinvest complies with some of the strictest environmental criteria currently available. The Vinis fund extends the SRI concept to Central and Eastern Europe, including Russia, Turkey and the Ukraine. Its WWF fund, which invests in US, European and Asian stocks, has gained the quality seal of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Erste says it disassociates itself from the label ‘sustainable’, as the WWF seal implies much more stringent ecological restrictions. A judge also commended Erste by calling the firm “pioneers in Eastern Europe”. This was demonstrated through the Espa Vinis Stock Europe Emerging equity funds. The investment universe is screened for corporate social responsibility and socially responsible investment criteria on a qualitative basis. The fund optimises data regarding SRI and corporate social responsibility through a four-layer investment process, which involves a cooperation between academics, an ethics committee for stakeholder inputs and a research agency. The funds also include Austria in their portfolios. Austria would be used as a safe haven investment strategy in case of major market turmoil in the emerging universe.
Click the screen for a video of the award presentation.  
Also shortlisted ... Hermes Real Estate (special commendation)
“If this sort of property investment was to take off and all pension funds set these standards then there would be no environmental problem.” So said one judge, and the enthusiasm was such for the Hermes approach to property that the firm is given a special commendation. In 2008 Hermes, the asset manager for the British Telecom pension scheme, developed a unique sustainability rating system – SRS – to assess and improve the financial performance of each property asset. It provides a measure of correlation between sustainability and investment performance. Judges described Hermes, which has invested in sustainable property for over a decade, as a “pioneer” and as “trend-setting”. F&C Management Global Climate Opportunities Fund
The F&C Global Climate Opportunities Fund was launched in September 2007. It focuses on companies that are helping the world respond to climate change, either by providing solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or by helping society prepare for the physical impacts of climate change. Investing across nine themes such as alternative energy, waste and advanced materials means that the fund is more broadly diversified than many other climate funds, F&C says. Another area for the fund is ‘acclimatisation’, which means investing in agribusinesses that develop new varieties of seeds and crops that are more resilient to extreme and volatile weather conditions to cope with changing weather patterns. Judges acknowledged that F&C has displayed a commitment to the field of socially responsible investment for a long time. Signet Capital Management
Last year judges commended Signet on the launch of its Signet Sustainable Resources Fund. The firm has now implemented a sustainable ethos across the whole business. As well as being carbon neutral across all offices, the firm also runs the Catalyst for Change programme which helps funds increase their exposure to socially responsible projects and investments. 

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