Sustainability Leadership Series – Responsible investing in practice

There is increasing recognition that sustainability can have a significant impact on a company’s financial performance, and it is becoming a crucial consideration in the investment decision-making process.

We were among the first in the re/insurance industry to move close to 100% of our Strategic Asset Allocation to environmental, social and governance (ESG) benchmarks. We believe that long-term investors are best equipped to lead the way in embedding sustainability into the conventional investment process, and that bringing key industry participants together to exchange knowledge and experiences is the best way to move the dialogue forward.

With this in mind, on September 12-13, 2019, Swiss Re Institute, together with our Investor Relations and Asset Management units hosted the “Sustainability Leadership Series – Responsible investing in practice” event, which brought together 80 participants from the investment community, re/insurers, campaign groups, national and international regulatory bodies, academia and policymakers.

Participants of a panel discussion (photo)

Panel discussion during the event (left to right): Guido Fürer, Chief Investment Officer, Swiss Re; Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Founder and CEO, Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism; Patrick Odier, Managing Partner, Lombard Odier; Philippe B. Brahin, Head Investor Relations, Swiss Re.

The event served as a platform to share first-hand insights on the implementation of responsible investing strategies, discuss policy developments and look at the latest trends in stewardship across a fast-evolving market. During the event, four panels discussed ESG aspects from different perspectives. Participants took stock of lessons learned thus far by asset managers who have taken active steps to integrate ESG into their investment decisions, looking at this by asset class, discussing the view-point of policymakers and regulators, and finally considering the latest trends and outlook on investment stewardship and shareholder engagement.

The acknowledgement that ESG considerations are not just a “nice-to-have” was reiterated numerous times during the event, with emphasis put on how it makes economic sense to integrate ESG factors into investment decisions. At the same time, there was agreement that all stakeholders need to continue taking action if society as a whole is to achieve the climate goals set in the Paris Agreement.