How do you ensure a good pension with respect for people and the environment? We asked Nicolaas Meijers and Annette van der Krogt. Nicolaas is Head of ESG at SAMCo (Shell Asset Management Company) and Annette works as Manager Responsible Investment at Achmea IM (Achmea Investment Management).
Nicolaas: "SAMCo gives strategic advice and input for SSPF's SRI policy. We monitor the impact on the portfolio and whether the choices we make are in line with our responsible investment policy. The cooperation between SAMCo and SSPF is very comprehensive. We meet several times a month.
Annette: "Achmea IM supports SNPS, the 'young fund' of Shell Pension. In addition to SRI advice and being a good sounding board, we manage the portfolios on a strategic level. Every three weeks our task force (consisting of people working for Achmea IM and Shell Pension) meets to discuss various ESG themes. At the moment our focus is on the new sustainability legislation."
Annette: "A few years ago, the EU launched a 'sustainability action plan'. Several sustainability laws will be introduced in the near future. One of them is SFDR (Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation). This regulation requires transparency about your SRI policy - how sustainable is it? - and then to report on this very transparently."
Nicolaas: "A large part of the regulations are in line with the IMVB covenant that Shell Pension signed in 2018. This gives both funds a good start in implementing the SFDR."
Nicolaas: "The IMVB covenant is a cooperation between the government, NGOs, trade unions and pension funds. It gives a voice to the influence pension funds have on the companies they invest in. Because even though, as an investor, you are not at the wheel yourself. You can encourage companies to do business in a socially responsible way."
Annette: "In reality, this means that we investigate whether the companies Shell Pension invests in cause any damage to people or the environment. This is called due diligence. Should there be a negative impact there will be consequences. You can then decide to enter into a dialogue with such a company (engagement)."
Nicolaas: "It is our responsibility to ensure that the investments yield enough to pay the pensions of our participants and to do so in a sustainable way. The ESG benchmarks we have developed are a good example. With these, SSPF invests more in companies that are more sustainable than similar companies in their industry, without affecting the return."
Annette: "The first and foremost objective of SNPS is a good and affordable pension, now and in the future. That is why we are very conscious of our SRI policy. For example, SNPS focuses on engagement, because SNPS believes that a dialogue is a better way to improve sustainability than excluding companies.
Annette: "I find it very interesting that my work is connected to both finance and society. Because Achmea IM works for large investors like Shell Pension, it involves a lot of capital that can really make a difference. It's great to be able to contribute to that."
Nicolaas: "As far as I'm concerned, we kill two birds with one stone. First of all, I think ESG offers investment opportunities. Sustainability is becoming increasingly important. Ensuring that companies have their ESG activities in order can protect or even increase investment value in the long term. I also strongly believe that the financial world can make a positive contribution to people and the environment. Investors can play an important role here."
Would you like to know more about our socially responsible investment policy? Listen to the podcast with Arnold Gast, Risk & Investment Officer at Shell Pensioen.