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Geneva Forum for Sustainable Investment (GFSI)

June, 10 2013
Engagement et performance au centre des échanges de vues

Ce forum a souligné les nombreuses facettes de l’approche durable dans le monde l’investissment. Si tout n’est pas rose dans le monde de la finance, il démontre une réelle dynamique et une volonté de la part de toutes les parties prenantes de promouvoir cette méthodologie et approche de la finance.

Partie acquise à ce processus, nous somme heureux de partager le compte rendu de l’Agefi ci dessous.


Engagement et performance au centre des échanges de vues


Commitment and Performance in the center of the debates

The success of (GFSI) does not weaken.  This 4th edition in Geneva, organised by Voxia and Conser, saw rushing more than 250 participants from various horizons, specialists of sustainable  finance of course, but also representatives of Swiss universal and private banks, foreign banks, independent asset managers and institutional investors. More than 20 speakers succeeded one another during round tables and workshops on Friday, June 7th. However this year, no representative from the Swiss German part had made displacement. Logic since 2013 also signs the first edition of the counterpart of  the forum, the Zurich Forum for Sustainable Investment June 13th of this year.

Angela De Wolff, founder of Conser and co-founder of Sustainable Finance Geneva, opened the day by reminding of some recent figures on the sector: «the signatories of principles for the responsible investment issued by the UNO represent more than 1000 institutions in 35 countries for more than 30.000 thousand millions under management today. In Europe, more half of the cases of pensions has a politics of investment including lasting criteria and quarter a dream to include it. »In Europe always, the market of the responsible investments (SRI) attains from now on about 10.000 thousand million euro, according to the last study of Eurosif.

As a reminder, in SRI, the process of selection of investments includes a classical financial analysis, supplemented by a lasting analysis which can take various forms (criteria of exclusions, approach ” best in class ” etc.). Objective is double: by investing in more “sustainable” companies, the investors aim at favouring firms with an economic model that limits the negative externalities (pollution, job of children etc). These externalities represents costs and risks which the financial analysis does not take into account. By choosing less risked and more transparent, more “sustainable” companies, the investor targets those with a better economic and financial grade and discounts the upper performances.

Performance was besides in the centre of debates of the day. «With our politics of sustainable management we recorded 23 positive months of output in two years. Even if it does not explain everything, we noted that without this strategy we would have lost overperformance there. For us, the quality of outputs and so important as outputs in them the same», points out Gregory Haenni, head of the investment of CERN pension fund.

Being on the ground and to have talks with firms, Symbiotics makes it for 10 years and recorded only years of positive returns. Roland Dominicé,CEO of the firm of microfinance reminds that: «70 % worldwide growth will come from now on from markets appear. On a worldwide scale more than 95 % of firms are SMES or micro-firms. In the emergent markets, 80 % populations do not have enough access to financial services». The evolution of these microfirms towards SMES provokes big needs in financing, which often pass by microcredits. Symbiotics is specialised in investments in the firms of microfinance in the emergent countries. So last year, funds in obligation of Symbiotics knew between 4 % and 9 % of output, with not enough volatility. Fabio Sofia, director to Symbiotics, adds:« we follow closely about 200 institutions, which are often considered to be the best banks of the country. Banco Solidario is the best bank in Equator for example, just as BancoSol in Bolivia, both at the top of classification of the agencies of notation».

Symbiotics, who developed last year a fund in collaboration with the NGO OXFAM and at the request of the City of London, is surprised that the Swiss authorities do not get involved more in the development of this industry. He reminds that Geneva is the worldwide capital of microfinance with 30 % of market shares (on a total of more than 10 thousand millions). Sustainable finance is however part of three priorities that ASB the end of 2012 settled. If private initiatives develop, supports him public still keeps people waiting. However examples do not miss: Luxembourg, London and the European Union do not cease developing regulation and tax incentives to favour this industry. In the corridors of the forum, many people would approve that Switzerland their emboite the step, to attract investments and to make a reference of Switzerland in sustainable finance.

Facing the big diversity of strategies, it is impossible to maintain that the lasting investments surperforment the market on average. However, some strategies prove to be more paid than others. «Criteria of exclusion bring no alpha while strategies best in class create value in our wallets», points out Benoit Piette, Executive Director of the Bank Sarasin et Cie. A vision shared by Antti Savilaasko, manager of investments responsible for Nordea, one of the main Scandinavian banks. He speaks even of ” cheap way ” for strategies of exclusions as being simplistic and bringing no over performance. The same thoughts for Melchior de Muralt, associate – manager at Pury Pictet Turrettini and Cie S.A. :« why to go without fair Syngenta on the pretext that she is active in chemistry? Rather than to exclude them from our world, he is of our responsibility to have talks with these firms to improve the practices, just as he is of our responsibility to add of the surperformance for our clients». Indeed, it would have been damage to go without the title of Syngenta the lesson of action of which passed about 70 francs 10 years ago to about 370 francs today.

Chemistry was besides the topic developed in the presentation of DexiaAM. A sector in priori contaminating, as much at the level of production as of products (plastics, manure etc). But more “green « chemistries develop more and more and push industry to innovate. «Promising technologies of capture and sequestration of the carbon would allow to reduce by 80 % of programmes of CO2 in industry, and 20 % total programmes. Technique remains still expensive but is already tested by Total and Liquid air in France for example», specifies Patrick Haustant,  senior SRI analyst to Dexia AM.

Most participants put forward the necessary proximity and dialogue with firms, which could not replace the (even huge) flow of financial information broadcast on Bloomberg and consorts. «In a strategy of improvement of lasting risk / output, it is necessarily necessary to be hired. It is necessary to look at the information at which nobody looks. Financial returns reflect the value of a firm, no more than reports ESG reflect the lasting profile of the firm and its potential. To have talks with the firm is essential» still adds Antti Savilaasko.