IR+M’s Approach to ESG
IR+M strives to deliver strong fixed income performance through a transparent, highly selective, bottom-up investment process. We believe that careful security selection and active risk management produce superior results over the long-term. At IR+M, we maintain that comprehensive credit evaluation extends beyond traditional financial analysis. As such, we have been a signatory of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) since 2013, and integrated Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) analysis into our investment process. We believe that the consideration of ESG factors allows us to mitigate downside risk and identify investment opportunities. We are fully committed to understanding how ESG factors influence long-term sustainability and creditworthiness. Beyond the investment process, we are committed to being good corporate stewards, partnering with our clients, and giving back to our community.
IR+M’s investment team has developed a proprietary, sector-specific assessment of pertinent ESG issues. Our credit analysts use their sector expertise, along with Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) guidance, to identify key issues and material accounting metrics. We evaluate sector peer groups and highlight those who are leaders versus laggards, with the intention of minimizing risks and identifying opportunities. We seek to systematically exclude sectors only when directed to do so by clients. We believe that the robust analysis of material ESG issues is essential to evaluating the long-term viability of an issuer. To that end, we rely on data from a myriad of external sources, including Bloomberg, Sustainalytics, rating agencies, company filings, and other third-parties. Our ESG integration provides a holistic level of rigor that enables us to better understand long-term sustainability, creditworthiness, and risk-return characteristics.
At IR+M, we believe that engaging with issuers is incredibly important. Our investment team is focused on fostering an effective and ongoing dialogue with management, and encouraging their pursuit of best practices, including those ESG factors that drive long-term value. As fixed income investors, we do not have shareholder voting rights, but as lenders, we routinely communicate our concerns to senior management teams. We believe that management teams that are focused on ESG issues are more likely to decrease event and default risk, increase efficiency of resources, and sustain enterprise value.
Our commitment to ESG extends beyond our investment process. IR+M strives to conduct business responsibly, while adding value to our community. We are located in an Energy Star and LEED Silver Star Certified Building, which has undergone renovations to enhance its energy efficiency. Our office is accessible by all forms of mass transportation, and we are committed to reducing our environmental impact.
IR+M’s Sustainability Task Force was formed to reduce waste and improve efficiency at the office, and encourage implementation of these practices in our homes and communities. The Task Force has facilitated a drastic reduction in our firm-wide plastic use, while significantly increasing our recycling and composting efforts.
As we work to promote a diverse culture, we value and welcome diversity of thought. Women and men across the firm participate in our Women’s Integration, Retention, and Engagement (WIRE) Forum, which encourages conversations about racial, cultural, and gender diversity at our firm and in our industry.
We believe that volunteering and giving back benefits not only our community, but also our employees. We partner with a variety of charities, support our clients’ philanthropic missions, and contribute a portion of profits to charity. Our Community Outreach Group leads our philanthropic and charitable endeavors, which revolve around causes affecting education, health and wellness, and youth programs.
Our Volunteer Action Committee provides IR+M employees with diverse and rewarding opportunities to serve our local community. Our employees are provided two paid days to volunteer each year, and also have numerous chances to participate in IR+M volunteer events during the year. In 2016, IR+M employees volunteered over 500 hours with more than 20 different organizations. IR+M also holds an annual Week of Giving, where employees are encouraged to give back through volunteering, monetary donations, and fundraising activities. In 2017, nearly all of the firm’s employees participated in the week’s events, collectively volunteering over 200 hours.
IR+M is dedicated to providing exceptional service to our clients. We believe that incorporating ESG factors into fundamental and technical analysis adds value to the security selection process. As a firm, we strive to produce strong risk-adjusted returns, while making a positive impact on our clients, employees, and community.
IR+M’s Approach to SRI
- We construct diversified portfolios that meet our clients’ SRI needs and adhere to their specific standards
- Our approach incorporates criteria to exclude issuers based on a company’s involvement in a given area of business
- IR+M utilizes a third-party data and research provider to monitor social restrictions
- Investments are screened on a pre-trade and post-trade basis within our trade order management system, LatentZero
- We seek to maintain broadly diversified portfolios and consider the impact of SRI screens as part of the investment process
- We incorporate social screens into our credit review process in tandem with the mosaic theory
- Companies that routinely violate environmental regulations, abuse corporate power, and exhibit governance issues tend to have more volatile credit spreads, headline risk, and potential for negative event risk
- Approximately 15% of IR+M’s assets under management are subject to SRI screening
- Sample areas of screening are: Healthcare, Adult Entertainment, Alcohol, Environmental Performance, Gambling, Predatory Lending, Tobacco, and Weapons Production
In May of 2013, IR+M became a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Investment
(“UNPRI”). This was an important milestone in our continued commitment to responsible investing, which includes a 15+ year track record of managing Socially Responsible Investment portfolios.
As a signatory, we have formally pledged to consider Environmental, Social, and Governance factors during our investment decision-making process. We believe this commitment complements our investment approach and inspires us to further enhance the integration of ESG factors into our process.
For information about our Commitment to ESG + Socially Responsible Investing click here.
For information about our Core SRI strategy click here.
For further information, please contact us here.
As of 3/31/18.
1In addition to the Principles for Responsible Investment, this policy is informed by various sources such as the UN Global Compact Principles, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Bill of Human Rights.
The views contained in this report are those of IR+M and are based on information obtained by IR+M from sources that are believed to be reliable. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide specific advice, recommendations for, or projected returns of any particular IR+M product. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission from Income Research & Management.