Henry James has a history of strong performance managing ESG funds. When CEO James O’Leary began working with ESG funds, the concept was far less developed, generally seen as being SRI (Socially Responsible Investing) and was important for investors with strong moral or ethical stances. Nonetheless, O’Leary helped set a precedent for what could be achieved with a successful ESG portfolio, winning 5 globes (denoting Morningstar’s highest possible sustainability ranking) for the mutual fund he controlled at the time. These globes were earned due to O’Leary’s strict ESG investment methodology, the same methodology Henry James now applies to our own ESG funds.
We follow the same strategy for our ESG funds as we do for any other – a combination of bottom up for picking stocks and a top down country weighting system. Once we have gone through these first steps we run an ESG check for the portfolios, and we are extremely strict about enforcing the rules. Not only do we steer clear of investing in obviously non-ESG companies (such as cigarette manufacturers) we also hold each company up to a strict set of standards and measure how well they are managing their ESG risks and opportunities.
What We Look At
Climate and Environment
For every company selected by our standard methodology, we look to see what risk the effects of climate change pose to normal business operations for the company – would factors such as a rise in temperature interfere with the company’s ability to carry out its business? More than this, however, we examine the infrastructure of the business and assess how sustainable it is. Every company in our portfolio must have transport, water, and waste systems which are accessible and environmentally friendly.
Ownership and Business Structure
This includes aspects such as the separation of the CEO and the Chairman of the Board, assuring there is no overlap in their responsibilities which could lead to a conflict of interest. Each company must have a transparent, ethical approach to their taxes and a system in place which easily enables shareholder engagement with the board and management.
It is of critical importance that every company in our ESG portfolio abide by the laws regulating human rights. This includes workers’ rights, land rights, indigenous peoples’ rights, and freedom of expression and any company which violates these will have no place in our portfolio.
To learn more about ESG funds and how Henry James International Management could help you, please get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone on (646) 722-2739