By Nersan Naidoo, 14 October 2020
Robeco boasts some of the greatest sustainable investing expertise in the world. “Together, our mission is to enable clients to achieve their financial and sustainability goals by providing superior investment returns and solutions,” says Nersan Naidoo, Chief Executive of Sanlam Investments.
Naidoo said their purpose as a business has evolved significantly over the last few years, with factors such as climate change and COVID-19 proving as strong catalysts. “The pandemic has concretised what we’ve known for some time; that as an asset management business, we are in a strong position to make a tangible, measurable difference. At the heart of our purpose is our journey towards long-term sustainability, for South African investors, our economy and communities. The world is changing rapidly, and our purpose has evolved well beyond just wealth creation.”
Sanlam Investments previously entered into a joint venture with Climate Fund Managers in 2017 and, more recently, launched the Investors’ Legacy Range as a response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The objective of the three funds in the Investors’ Legacy Range is to preserve jobs in small, medium and large companies across South Africa. Sanlam made a R2.25 billion capital investment into the funds, with additional external capital also raised. Capital is being deployed where it is needed most.
Naidoo said that with their razor-sharp focus on delivering returns to clients sustainably, Sanlam Investments knew it needed a partner to get to where it needed to be. “Robeco is the perfect world-class partner to help us fast-track the integration of sustainable investing practices into every facet of our business.”
He explained that rather than outsourcing sustainability mandates to Robeco, the partnership was designed to develop and enhance their skills in sustainable investing best practices. “It will see us having access to Robeco’s platform, research and experience, which will allow us to rapidly upskill our people and help embed sustainable investing practices into our investment processes and into everything we do as a business.”
Robeco has 17 offices worldwide and has USD 174 billion in assets under management, of which USD 161 billion is committed to ESG integration (June 2020). As a global leader in sustainable investing since 1995, its unique integration of sustainable as well as fundamental and quantitative research enables them to offer institutional and private investors an extensive selection of active investment strategies, for a broad range of asset classes.
Malick Badjie, Managing Director and Head of Africa Distribution at Robeco, says that despite some perceptions that focusing on sustainability can impinge on profits, ESG-focused companies consistently outperform ‘for profit’ players.
“Putting people and planet above profits has consistently proved to have a positive impact on the bottom line. Sustainably managed companies are less likely to suffer environmental accidents, major labour disputes or other issues related to unfair practices. These can all cause significant negative impacts on profits. We believe COVID-19 may have been an inflection point for many global investors.
Badjie says Robeco is excited about working with Sanlam Investments in both a South African but also in a wider African context. “We are thrilled to be collaborating with like-minded strategic partners such as Sanlam Investments to really advance the sustainability agenda and make our shared goals a reality.”
Naidoo agrees that investing for ‘more than profit’ is far more beneficial and lucrative for everyone over the long term. “Companies taking sustainability seriously today will be the ones making a big difference for tomorrow.”
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