Which groups have been ranked the top responsible investment brands?

More than 500 global companies were assessed on their commitments

Federated Hermes International and AXA Investment Managers have retained their spot at the top of a list of responsible investment brands from around the world.

Swiss research company Hirschel And Kramer (H&K) analysed more than 500 asset managers globally, having previously only focused on European names, to create the Responsible Investment Brand Index (RIBI) and has just released the results for 2021.

The methodology looks at a company’s commitment to responsible investing – ranked by ‘hard factors’ – looking at the quality of their listed equity voting, strategy and governance based on Principles for Responsible Investment Transparency Reports. It also looks at brand – ranked by ‘soft factors’ – such as purpose statements and links to societal values.

Groups are then classified into four RIBI categories:

  • Avant-Gardist: Above average on commitment rating and brand rating
  • Traditionalist: Above average on commitment rating and below average on brand rating
  • Aspirant: Above average on brand rating and below average on commitment rating
  • Laggard: Below average on both ratings

The 10 companies achieving the overall best score in 2021 are:

  1. Federated Hermes International
  2. AXA Investment Managers
  3. Schroders
  4. Candriam
  5. NN Investment Partners
  6. DPAM
  7. Mirova
  8. Etica SGR
  9. BNP Paribas Asset Management
  10. Sycomore Asset Management

In the supporting document for the RIBI, it said five companies have consistently made it to the top 10 in each of the past four years, namely Federated Hermes, AXA IM, Candriam, DPAM and Mirova. Federated Hermes moved from second to first position, unseating AXA IM, while Schroders and NN Investment Partners are new additions to the top 10.

The report also highlighted the top category remains “fiercely competitive” with only one manager out of six making it into the Avant-Gardists’ camp.

Meanwhile, 40% of the 500+ company universe demonstrated above average hard factor ratings only 25% were above average for soft factor ratings.

European asset managers are leading the way with ratings well above the global average, and 24% of this region sit in the Avant-Gardist category. However, the report also noted the continent is significantly strong than the UK. Asia Pacific and North America are below the global average.

Authors of the RIBI report Jean-Francois Hirschel and Markus Kramer said: “Asset managers have a vital role to play to shape our collective future. Despite an apparent ‘global divide’, we believe there are plenty of positive signs that in aggregate can genuinely be taken as positive markers of change, rooted in an increased consciousness when it comes to investing money.

“We are encouraged to see that investors, society, and regulators are continuing to adopt a broader perspective as to how the leverage of money can be more effectively balanced towards creating better futures for everyone.”

The pair added that for asset managers to be able to climb the RIBI, they should consider “genuinely building purpose and value-driven cultures from within that will help them to nurture talent, to innovate and to create solutions that ultimately will advance them, their investors and the planet for the better”, and also demonstrate positive actions and communicating these through their brands to the world at large.

Commenting on its position within the RIBI, Marco Morelli, executive chair of AXA Investment Managers, said: “We are honoured to be recognised as the top investment manager in Europe, and the second globally, committed to responsible investing. We strive to maintain our pioneering role as a responsible investor and long-term steward of our clients’ investments and this award reflects our dedication to ESG which is at the heart of our purpose.”

Harriet Steel, head of business development at the Federated Hermes, also said: “The asset management industry is undergoing a fundamental shift to reshape its future, but not all stakeholders are walking the talk. I am very proud of my team who have enabled us to successfully deliver our message to an engaged audience and for shaping our brand into what it is today in a very busy market.”

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Natalie Kenway

Natalie is global head of ESG insight for ESG Clarity and has been an investment journalist for 16 years. She won Editor of the Year at the Aviva Investors Sustainability Media Awards 2021, and was Winner...