As a responsible steward of capital with global aspirations, we believe that Fiera Capital should always strive to conduct its business in an appropriate manner and invest responsibly.
2020 Responsible Investment Report
Sustainability and Performance
Integrating the assessment of material environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk factors into how we manage assets on behalf of clients is crucially important in today’s environment – especially for firms such as Fiera Capital that operate in the financial and investment sectors. Shareholders, clients, employees and other stakeholders all stand to benefit.
Fiera Capital’s Responsible Investment Journey
Our commitment to responsible investing is not focused on a particular destination or finite timeline. Rather, it entails an ongoing journey that began with the establishment of the firm’s first Proxy Voting Policy more than 15 years ago.
Oversight and accountability for Fiera Capital’s responsible-investing activities primarily fall under the auspices of the Office of the Global Chief Investment Officer (Global CIO) and the Chief Investment Officers and management teams of our subsidiaries. However, integrating the assessment of material environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk factors rests with each investment team, as they decide how to integrate ESG in a manner that best suits their particular investment style or asset class.
Embedded in our investment processes, nonetheless, is a rigorous approach to risk management, whereby we strive to achieve optimal performance within an appropriate level of risk.
Fiera Capital also formed an ESG Committee, which includes representation from internal stakeholders across functions and divisions, to support the integration of ESG throughout the organization.
Responsible Investment Policy
Over the years, the growth and diversification of Fiera Capital’s operations created the need for a global policy that would govern the firm’s initiatives with respect to responsible investing and enable the organization to coordinate the practices of all of our divisions and subsidiaries in this area.
Fiera Capital’s Responsible Investment Policy outlines the firm’s approach to integrating ESG assessments into investment processes and highlights the many benefits of increasing our knowledge of companies in which we invest, better controlling the risk of our portfolios and helping companies improve over the long term.
The policy also provides a blueprint for “active ownership,” which includes the tactical use of proxy voting rights and engagement with the management of companies in which the firm invests in order to address ESG issues and affect positive change.
Proxy Voting Policy
Proxy voting is a key tool for Fiera Capital’s integration of ESG risk factors in its investment processes. The firm exercises its voting rights in order to maintain the highest standard of corporate governance and sustainability of the business and practices of the companies whose shares are held. High standards are necessary for maximizing shareholder value as well as protecting the economic interest of shareholders.
In effect since 2002, the policy was amended in November 2017 to incorporate a number of new guidelines addressing ESG-related issues, such as climate-change risk mitigation and gender pay gap.
In terms of addressing potential issues and asserting a positive influence on the entities in which Fiera Capital invests, the firm believes that the most effective form of engagement is direct dialogue with the companies, or with the service providers we utilize.
When meeting with companies in which Fiera Capital holds an interest, portfolio managers may address ESG issues either on a proactive basis, to raise awareness of such concerns, or on a reactive basis, to revisit past issues and to learn how management has addressed them.
Fiera Capital prides itself on having been an early signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UN PRI). The organization believes that an economically efficient, sustainable global financial system is a necessity for long-term value creation.
As a signatory, Fiera Capital is guided by UN PRI’s Six Principles for Responsible Investing:
- We will incorporate ESG issues into our investment analysis and decision-making processes
- We will be active owners and incorporate ESG issues into our ownership policies and practices
- We will seek appropriate disclosure on ESG issues by the entities in which we invest
- We will promote acceptance and implementation of the Principles within the investment industry
- We will work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the Principles
- We will each report on our activities and progress towards implementing the Principles
Fiera Capital aims to promote the responsible-investment principles within the investment industry. The firm’s personnel are involved in numerous activities and have been invited as guest speakers both in Canada and in the U.S. to address responsible investment.
During 2017, Fiera Capital was also one of 30 Canadian financial and investment firms that were signatories to a Declaration of Institutional Investors on Climate-Related Financial Risks, which called for further disclosure by publicly traded companies in Canada with respect to climate-change risks and the measures taken to mitigate such risks.
Fiera Capital also engages with other key stakeholders, including reaching out to governments to share the firm’s views on crucial economic, fiscal and regulatory matters that the firm and its clients wish to address.