About The Tool

About the tool

RESPOND (Resilient and Sustainable Portfolios that Protect Nature and Drive Decarbonisation) is a tool developed by WWF that reviews asset managers’ disclosures about their implementation of responsible investment (RI). The tool is based on a WWF framework that represents a best-practice architecture for RI that is also aligned with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).

WWF’s RESPOND tool and framework offer useful reference points for comparing asset managers on their approaches to responsible investment and climate change. We believe RESPOND will help us to engage with asset managers, and that asset managers will use it to identify areas for improvement. We expect all the asset managers in the region will play key roles in sustainable finance by adapting best practices through RESPOND.

Keiichi Nakajima, General Manager of MS&AD Insurance Group

We expect our external asset managers to be integrating ESG analysis into investment decision-making. Included in this analysis is addressing natural capital risk exposure. WWF's recently launched RESPOND framework and tool provide new perspectives into natural capital risk that can be used to help inform asset managers’ decision making.

Brian Rice, Portfolio Manager at CalSTRS

In this section:


RESPOND helps investors and other stakeholders connect research to action. It allows its users to:

Understand

Access an overview of asset managers’ disclosures against WWF’s framework for responsible investment

Customise

Build bespoke analyses that compare selected practices across a customisable selection of asset managers.

Download

Generate and download reports based on customised analyses.

Objectives of RESPOND

RESPOND enables users to view and compare how asset managers are implementing RI. This serves to achieve the following objectives:

  • Accelerate the alignment of financial flows with the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  • Create portfolios that are resilient to climate and other natural capital risks, while driving positive impact and change on the ground;
  • Empower asset managers, as key intermediaries between the finance sector and the real economy, to deliver on growing asset owner expectations to drive decarbonization and sustainable development;
  • Support asset owners in refining their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) approaches to meet the emerging and higher standards expected by regulators and stakeholders. 

Who should use RESPOND?

Asset managers can:

  • Review their own RI capabilities and TCFD/PRI alignment and identify areas for improvement;
  • Demonstrate how their investment decisions and engagement activities are influencing portfolio companies to adopt more sustainable operating practices and increase the resilience of their business models;
  • Review best practices and position their own RI capabilities more competitively against RI leaders. 

Asset owners can:

  • Complement consultant analyses and gain a more complete perspective when evaluating external managers and awarding mandates;
  • Engage with external managers to enhance their RI capabilities (e.g. through incorporating science-based criteria to maximize portfolio resilience to climate and other ESG risks);
  • Analyse whether the ESG impacts related to the deployment of their capital align with their values and those of their beneficiaries;
  • Refine internal ESG approaches in order to meet the emerging, higher standards expected by regulators and beneficiaries.

Regulators can:

  • Monitor and engage asset managers to improve their management of climate and other ESG risks, thereby increasing the finance sector’s resilience and better protecting beneficiaries;
  • Improve capital markets’ transparency on sustainability by encouraging asset managers to disclose according to the framework;
  • Identify ways to increase the eligibility and competitiveness of their asset management industries to better respond to asset owner mandates.

Methodology

The framework encourages asset managers to go beyond existing market best practices to also incorporate WWF’s recommendations on science-based criteria and approaches for managing climate and other sustainability issues at both the issuer and overall portfolio levels. RESPOND is aligned with TCFD and PRI and further draws on:

  • Relevant national stewardship codes and reporting guidance for financial institutions (e.g. GRI, SASB);
  • WWF’s science-based conservation expertise on key issues such as climate, energy, food, water, oceans and biodiversity, spanning 6,000 staff in over 100 countries;
  • WWF’s experience in developing transformative corporate sustainability initiatives and co-developing science-based multi-stakeholder sustainability certification standards;
  • WWF’s high-level participation in cutting-edge sustainable finance initiatives.

WWF’s proprietary RI framework is built on six pillars of ESG integration (outlined below), comprised of 14 indicators and 88 sub-indicators. Sub-indicators consist of questions with binary “yes/no” answers. To view the detailed analyses and benefit from the tool’s full functionalities, users should request access.

Alignment of an asset manager’s strategy with a resilient and sustainable future. 

  • Relevance of sustainability in the organization’s strategy and investment beliefs 
  • Industry collaboration and participation 

Robust policies that reference science-based, multi-stakeholder standards across key issues and sectors.

  • RI policies 
  • Issue-specific policies

Internal processes for ESG integration, monitoring and engagement. 

  • Research, stock selection and monitoring
  • Active ownership

Board responsibility, skills and KPIs to embed sustainability into investment decision making. 

  • Governance
  • Skills
  • Incentives

Client offerings that deliver positive financial, social and environmental outcomes.

  • Product availability
  • Promotion of products to clients

A portfolio approach to risk management, reporting and aligning financial flows with global sustainability goals. 

  • Risk assessment
  • Metrics and targets
  • Disclosure

The 2019 RESPOND analysis focuses on a set of large global asset managers, meeting the following three criteria:

  • Min. AUM of US$200B;
  • Headquartered in Europe, with offices in Asia;
  • ESG leaders, with public disclosure of an A+ rating on either Strategy & Governance or Listed Equity modules of the PRI framework in 2018 or 2019.

Together these criteria represent the asset managers most exposed to increased sustainable finance regulatory expectations and, those which are best-placed to further push the implementation of RI by tackling environmental issues beyond climate change in Asia, where addressing environmental and social issues is especially critical.

RESPOND’s analysis focuses only on asset managers’ indirect footprints (i.e. their exposure to ESG risks and impacts through their portfolio companies), as opposed to their direct footprints (e.g. building energy consumption, paper consumption, or staff travel). There is a broad consensus among various stakeholders (financial institutions, regulators, civil society) that while the management of direct impacts is important, indirect risks and impacts are far more significant and should form the backbone of any asset managers’ sustainability strategy.

While we recognize its importance to RI, RESPOND deliberately does not focus on corporate governance as asset managers generally already have significant experience addressing these issues. However, where relevant the framework does address the asset manager’s own sustainability governance.

RESPOND only takes into account asset managers’ publicly disclosed information in English. This includes the latest sustainability and RI reports (released before October 2019), as well as information posted on websites such as company policies, statements, investor presentations and press releases. The analysis also takes into account the PRI 2018 and 2019 Transparency Reports. These public disclosures represent the baseline level of information available to international asset owners and stakeholders looking to develop an understanding of how asset managers are managing climate and ESG risks and opportunities so as to contribute to sustainable development. Each asset manager included has been given the opportunity to review their preliminary results and provide feedback. 

Going forward, WWF will update the analyses once per year. However, asset managers may reach out proactively to inform WWF about any updates to their public ESG disclosures. WWF will consider these updates and make necessary revisions to RESPOND analyses, such that they reflect the most updated information available.

Asset managers included

  • Aberdeen Standard Investments
  • Aegon Asset Management
  • Allianz Global Investors
  • Amundi
  • APG Asset Management
  • Aviva Investors
  • AXA Investment Managers
  • Baillie Gifford
  • BNP Paribas Asset Management
  • DWS Group
  • Fidelity International
  • HSBC Global Asset Management
  • Legal & General Investment Management
  • M&G Investments
  • NN Investment Partners
  • Nordea Asset Management
  • Ostrum Asset Management
  • Pictet Asset Management
  • Robeco
  • Schroders
  • UBS Asset Management
  • Union Investment Group

ABOUT WWF

WWF has worked with the finance sector for more than a decade via innovative collaborations that strive to integrate ESG risks and opportunities into mainstream finance so as to redirect financial flows to support the Paris Agreement and the SDGs. Our approach to sustainable finance leverages:
  • Our conservation experience on the ground across WWF’s global practices;
  • Our partnerships with companies on key issues such as climate, energy, food and water to drive sustainability;
  • Our participation in cutting-edge sustainable finance initiatives (e.g. Science Based Targets initiative and the European Commission’s Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance).
This has allowed us to strengthen lending and investment criteria for key industry sectors, provide insights and data on environmental and social risks, fulfil critical research gaps, help unlock innovations in sustainable finance products and convene key stakeholders to progress the sustainable finance agenda.

Download Reports

2019 WWF Responsible Investment Framework

This report introduced the global investment community to WWF's Responsible Investment Framework in 2019. It provides context around why the framework was developed, its uses, and sheds light on the underlying indicators and sub-indicators the framework analyses.

Download

2020 Insight Report

This report provides an overview of the 22 asset managers' analyses and gives key insights on how asset managers can further push the frontier of responsible investment.

Download
Go Top