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Growing public awareness of the economic impacts of the climate crisis, biodiversity loss and the wide-scale disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated interest in sustainable investing worldwide. Pension funds and other institutional investors often consider ESG-related risks and returns, and we have seen an especially strong rise in demand from private clients – particularly high-net-worth individuals, next generation investors and charitable foundations. These different client segments are seeking ways to combine the achievement of financial returns with the generation of a positive social and/or environmental impact, whether the client’s primary focus is purpose or profit.
Our sustainable product offering is based on our Credit Suisse Sustainable Investment Framework, which outlines our investment approach across the sustainable investment strategies of exclusion, integration and sustainable thematic and impact-aligned investing strategies. This framework has been developed by our specialists, who have deep expertise in sustainability and portfolio management. Our goal in creating the Credit Suisse Sustainable Investment Framework is not to prescribe our values for our clients or the industry. Instead, our aim is to “say what we do and do what we say.” This is why our framework does not simply focus on how we apply ESG criteria across our exclusions, integration and thematic/impact investment portfolios, but also outlines how we create transparency for our clients through classification and reporting.
In the Credit Suisse Sustainable Investment Framework, we combine knowledge from well-established external and independent data providers (e.g. Sustainalytics and MSCI) with our own research to form a proprietary methodology as part of our effort to deliver a high quality sustainable offering for our clients. Our standards are regularly reviewed and adjusted as new data and insights become available.
Our framework outlines three primary approaches to sustainable investing:
1. Exclusions: The primary purpose of these strategies is to provide clients with investments that do not cause harm or that align with their values.
2. ESG integration: These strategies integrate important ESG factors into investment processes with the goal of delivering superior risk-adjusted returns.
3. Sustainable thematic and impact: The purpose of these strategies is to mobilize capital into companies that offer solutions to society’s challenges. Within this category, there are two sub-categories:
- Sustainable thematic: In recent decades, sectors such as education, healthcare and clean energy have grown strongly, and fund managers have set up funds to invest in these companies, in both public and private markets.
- Impact investing: Impact investing is the subset of sustainable investing that seeks to deliver measurable impact. We have endorsed the Operating Principles for Impact Management, an initiative led by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) setting out key principles that define best-practice impact management for investors. Credit Suisse believes that transparency and a common understanding of standards in impact investing are crucial to developing this market, and we were a founding signatory of the Impact Principles, from April 2019. We publish an annual Disclosure Statement on how we implement the Principles which is accessible on our website. This statement is also externally verified.
We believe that each of these approaches adds value in its own right and may be suitable for different types of investors with different types of investment goals.