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First State annual review highlights importance of responsible investment



First State Investments has unveiled its 2012 Annual Report, in which responsible investment is highlighted as “critical” in securing long-term success for the business.

Launched in London on Tuesday, the report maps out First State’s approach to responsible investment, while also laying out how its various teams across the world have fared in the past 12 months.

Maintaining the trust and confidence of our clients is critical to our long-term success as a leading world class responsible asset manager”, writes CEO Mark Lazberger in the report’s foreword.

The financial services sector continues to attract criticism from many quarters and the most recent Edelman Trust Barometer showed the financial services sector in a poor light.

Maintaining our licence to operate is therefore critical to the long-term success of our business and our approach to responsible investment plays a major part in achieving this.”

In the report, First State, a signatory of the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) since 2007, lays out how it has made “steady progress” in incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into all of its investment decisions.

This year, it will set up a Global Responsible Investment Committee (GRIC), chaired by Lazberger, with members taken from every arm of the organisation. This is on top of creating committees to investigate ESG risks, support engagement and promote collaboration between investment teams.

The event on Tuesday to launch its report was attended by investors, fund managers and financial advisers, and included introductions from Lazberger and global head of responsible investment Will Oulton, as well as a keynote speech from Divyesh Hindocha, global head of research at investment firm Mercer, entitled How can asset owners effectively signal a long-term investment agenda?

There was also a panel discussion, discussing how to deliver long-term, sustainable, asset performance, facilitated by Mike Tyrell of SRI Connect.

Lazberger adds in his foreword, “The year ahead will see further evolution and enhancement of our global responsible investment strategy, as well as embedding responsible investment considerations more deeply into our business globally.”

Further reading:

Time to offload the high-risk, low-return carbon assets

Why share ownership is better than share rental

Poll outlines bullish attitude among half of high net-worth investors

Investment reports reveal widespread use of ESG integration

The Guide to Sustainable Investment 2013