Helping our clients to make the most of their financial future.
The people at Asset Value Investors (AVI) are committed to leveraging our long heritage, stewardship, and expertise to make investing responsible, accessible, and profitable for everyone – individuals, families, institutions, private companies, and listed companies. Financial returns matter but we are in a unique position to influence positive change by questioning the practices of the companies we invest in for a more sustainable future.
We are fundamentally committed to supporting long-term sustainable businesses that will grow and participate in the prosperity of the economy with a responsible approach to the environment, society, and governance. We believe that the integration of ESG and sustainability considerations into our investment strategy is not only integral to comprehensively understanding each investment’s ability to create long term value but aligned with our values as responsible investors.
Responsible investing requires rigorous analysis, judgement, and a thorough understanding of the associated risks. We track and monitor the progress of our investee companies in relation to material ESG factors and are committed to actively engaging with our portfolio companies. Through constructive dialogue with boards and management, collaborative engagement, and proxy voting, we seek to promote sustainable attitudes and help build resilience to long-term financially relevant ESG risks. Our process of engagement and escalation of issues will vary with each company. We do not believe that a one formula fits all policy is the most optimal way to achieve a result. We encourage and expect investee companies to take meaningful action in remedying weaknesses in the context of long-term value creation.
As long-term investors, aiming to unlock potential, we would be reluctant to divest in a company where we believe we can influence positive change. However, it remains a possibility if engagement on material ESG issues is consistently inadequate and the resulting risks become untenable. Our buy, hold and sell disciplines are considered on a case-by-case basis and driven by our balancing of ESG considerations with financial performance and our fiduciary responsibility to our clients.
We are aligned with the UN PRI’s belief that an economically efficient, sustainable global financial system is a necessity for long-term value creation. Such a system will reward long-term, responsible investment and benefit the environment and society as a whole. AVI became a signatory to the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI) on 09 April 2021. In doing so we have confirmed our belief in our duty to act in the best long-term interests of our beneficiaries and that the below principles will better align investors with the broader objectives of society.
- We will incorporate ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes.
- We will be active owners and incorporate ESG issues into our ownership policies and practices.
- We will seek appropriate disclosure on ESG issues by the entities in which we invest.
- We will promote acceptance and implementation of the Principles within the investment industry.
- We will work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the Principles.
- We will report on our activities and progress towards implementing the Principles.
The Financial Stability Board created the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) to improve and increase reporting of climate-related financial information. We believe the TCFD recommendations provide a useful framework to increase transparency on climate-related risks and opportunities within financial markets and help to encourage sustainable business attitudes and practices. Asset Value Investors became supporters of TCFD in May 2021.
Our approach to ESG should not be viewed as distinct from our investment philosophy, an afterthought to our general practice, but rather as part of an integrated system that provides a vital perspective when analysing the long-term sustainable value creation potential of a company.
As research-driven value investors, we seek to truly understand each company in our portfolio and the context within which it operates on a case-by-case basis. Our approach to ESG integration reflects this. Our process does not involve the use of a filter to screen out negative-scoring ESG stocks, or a filter to only include positive-scoring ESG stocks as we believe this approach is inconsistent with our unique bottom-up investment strategy.
Rather than sitting in contradiction to our traditional analysis, AVI has created a bespoke ESG monitoring system which forms an important part of our newly developed proprietary database. This powerful tool deepens our understanding of the risks and opportunities within our universe, ensures ESG considerations are integrated into each stage of our analysis and elevates our ability to constructively engage with our investee companies.
Exclusionary screening is not our guiding framework, however, there are certain exceptions to this. AVI will not invest in any company with direct involvement in pornography, armaments, or tobacco, whereby more than 5% of that company’s NAV is from these activities.
AVI will also not invest in companies that engage in child labour or human exploitation as defined in relevant ILO conventions (Minimum Age Convention No.138, Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention No.182, Forced Labour Convention No.29,).
AVI supports and respects the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organisation’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Powered by ISS Norm-Based Research, we closely monitor any controversies and potential violations of international norms and standards associated with our universe.
If involvement in any of these industries is discovered or a verified violation is identified during our stringent pre-investment analysis or ongoing monitoring in the investment phase, AVI will follow a clear escalation process:
- Discuss with management
- In collaboration with management, agree on a timeline for exiting excluded industries/implementing remediation strategies.
- If company does not stop involvement or implement sufficient remediation strategies, AVI will divest.
Controversies can bring major reputational damage and a loss of consumer trust which can have a significant effect on a companies’ value. Whilst our hope is that controversies do not occur, they can be a marker of how well a company’s policies are integrated into business operations and culture. This is useful to us as investors in highlighting vulnerabilities, structural problems and indicating where improvements can be made.
By actively encouraging companies to strengthen their focus on ESG issues we hope to limit controversies and promote sustainable attitudes and practices.
We seek to identify the most relevant factors within each area of ESG and sustainability by materiality and financial risk.
We define Environmental sustainability within the context of Environmental Impact, Tackling Climate Change and Sustainable Management.
Social, we divide into Dignity and Equality, Wellbeing and Development, and Community Engagement
Governance includes Quality of the Governing Body, Corporate Strategy, and Ethical Behaviour.
It is our view that effective ESG integration should be regarded as a constantly evolving practice. For this reason, our chosen sub-sections and their respective metrics should not be seen as exhaustive and are subject to change both as our integration of ESG deepens further and our expectation of corporate ESG performance increases over time.
As responsible, active stewards of our clients’ capital, we have a duty to vote carefully and thoughtfully on their behalf, and we take this duty seriously. We aim to vote at every general meeting for which we are eligible.
We consider proxy voting to be an important lever in engaging with our portfolio companies and ensuring that our perspectives on environmental, social and governance issues are represented.