About us

Responsible investment

Integral to our investment philosophy

Responsible investment (RI) has long been integral to our investment research and decisions and our approach to business more broadly. The rationale for responsible investment is clear: companies with sustainable business models that look to the future have more potential to deliver value to all stakeholders, including shareholders. As a founding signatory of the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), responsible investment has been an established pillar of our business for well over a decade.
  • At the heart of our RI approach is a strong research capability embedded within our investment process
  • Our research is supported by proprietary RI ratings that enable us to assess material ESG risks and opportunities for over 8,000 companies worldwide
  • As active managers, engagement is key and we have a strong record in influencing positive change through stewardship and voting
  • We have a solid culture of collaboration that underpins our research and investment approach
  • We offer a range of dedicated RI strategies, including our innovative Social Bond franchise, for clients seeking to more actively promote ESG factors or achieve specific sustainable outcomes
PRI rating
At Columbia Threadneedle Investments, we strive to be responsible stewards of our clients’ assets, allocating their capital within our framework of robust research and good governance. The integration of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations within our research builds a fuller picture of the risks and future return prospects of all investment opportunities.

Research

A deep research base
We believe responsible investment research is fundamental research. We conduct original, independent, forward-looking research that aims to drive consistent long-term returns for our clients.
Our portfolio managers consider the additive insights of ESG factors when judging the sustainability and long-term value creation of portfolio companies. Integrating these ESG factors into our investment process helps them make broader-based investment decisions.
Our proprietary RI ratings reflect our data-driven, evidence-based approach and provide our investment team with a robust responsible investment framework to assess ESG material risks and opportunities for over 8,000 companies worldwide. In addition to proprietary analytics, our RI analysts also conduct independent thematic sustainability research that provides investment insight across multiple sectors – providing a more holistic view of investment opportunities.
RI factors
Collaboration enhances decision-making
Our dedicated RI analysts are integral to our global research team and share the same reporting line. Our research culture is embedded in our equity, fixed income, real estate, macro, and data science teams who continuously collaborate and share insights throughout the firm. This collaboration makes our investment decisions and stewardship activities more informed and makes it easier to identify material opportunities and risks that protect the clients’ interests and the capital they entrust to us.

Identifying opportunities: A thematic approach

In addition to the quantitative rating, our RI analysts also conduct a qualitative analysis of companies, sectors and themes concerning ESG and other sustainability considerations. We focus on a subset of eight of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) that we deem the most material to investments. Our thematic research explores investor topics such as energy transition, human capital development, and carbon policy. This thematic research is always investment-focused and highlights risks and opportunities for sectors and companies from an RI perspective.
A thematic approach
View our latest Responsible Investment Quarterly report here:

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Q1 2021 RI Report
View previous reports:

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Q4 2020 RI Report

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Q3 2020 RI Report

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Q2 2020 RI report

Proprietary Ratings

Proprietary RI analytics: assessing material risks and opportunities
As an active manager, we must consider factors that pose a risk to clients’ assets – or increase their value.
In operation since 2018, our proprietary ratings equip our investment team with a robust ESG framework and enhanced analysis of over 8,000 companies around the world. The ratings help identify and assess potentially material risks and opportunities beyond what can be captured by conventional analysis – making them a crucial part of our fundamental research toolkit.

These proprietary ratings are built on two models:

  • Financial Stewardship: This combines four separate [academic] frameworks that measure prudent, long-term financial governance to identify well-managed businesses. These frameworks offer insight into whether corporate governance is working in practice.
  • ESG Materiality: Companies that manage ESG risks are better placed to address future challenges, avoid technical and social obsolescence, and capitalise on both known and unknown business opportunities. As society, markets, and government regulations rapidly evolve, the companies that lead on the most financially material industry ESG metrics should be well-placed to mitigate risks, build competitive advantage and sustain their business in the long term.
The two models’ outputs are combined to produce an overall responsible investment rating, from 1 to 5. Our ratings are expressed on a relative basis and updated daily, so a change in an issuer’s rating is highly insightful in our investment research and portfolio construction. We believe it is prudent to focus equally on the level of a company’s quality today and its trajectory over time – both can affect investment returns.
Climate transition risk is an important factor considered by our research analysts. We measure the carbon pathway and adaptability of companies in the context of climate change. Our analysts will also look at operational controversies. They will investigate any potential breaches of a company’s alignment with international benchmarks, such as the UN Global Compact, the International Labour Organisation core labour standards and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. If appropriate we also seek to measure the alignment of companies to the UNSDGs. Combined these factors may give an insight into the effectiveness of a company’s risk management oversight when it comes to sustainability.
Ann Steele

A portfolio manager’s perspective​

Ann Steele, Senior Portfolio Manager, European Equities

Ann Steele
Nicolas Janvier

A portfolio manager’s perspective​

Nicolas Janvier, Portfolio Manager, Threadneedle American Smaller Companies Fund

Nicolas Janvier

Literature

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In Credit Weekly Snapshot – 26 July 2021

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Supplementary Information Document

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In Credit Weekly Snapshot – 19 July 2021

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In Credit Weekly Snapshot – 12 July 2021

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In Credit Weekly Snapshot – 5 July 2021

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In Credit Weekly Snapshot – 28 June 2021

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Q1 2021 RI Report

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In Credit Weekly Snapshot – 21 June 2021

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In Credit Weekly Snapshot – 14 June 2021

Stewardship

Powering change

Our stewardship activities intensify our understanding of our exposure to risks and opportunities that bear on our ability to deliver sustainable long-term value creation for clients.
We comply with several stewardship codes around the globe, including the UK Stewardship Code, where we are a “Tier I” asset manager signatory and the Investor Stewardship Group (ISG) Principles.
Engagement: adding to investment insights across all asset classes
We engage to gain deeper research insights, build relationships with companies and influence for change. We believe engagement enhances research and investment: it detects inflection points and long-term trends; it influences companies’ standards of ESG risk management and sustainability.
When deciding whether or not to engage, we consider various factors including:
  • the material significance of an issue to the company
  • the risk to our clients
  • the size of our holding
  • our opportunity to collaborate
  • and our ability to effect change
Meeting
We set clear objectives ahead of each engagement meeting and track them on a regular basis. We disseminate globally throughout the firm the research and analysis emerging from this monitoring.

Proxy voting: making our clients’ voices heard

We vote actively at company meetings. We view this as one of the most effective ways of signalling approval (or otherwise) of a company’s governance, management, board, and strategy and an active way to drive positive change. We carry out voting for our clients in all markets, voting for all our funds and for those clients who delegate authority to us. We vote in consideration of all relevant factors to support the best economic outcome in the long-run. 

Each year we cast proxy votes on approximately 6,500 shareholder meetings across 70 countries.

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Columbia Threadneedle Investments Voting Rationales 2020

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Columbia Threadneedle Investments Voting Rationales 2019

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Columbia Threadneedle Investments Voting Rationales 2018

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2020 PRI Assessment Report for Columbia Threadneedle Investments

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Columbia Threadneedle Investments Corporate Governance and Voting Principles 2019

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Stewardship principles and approach

Climate change

Evolving climate insights
We consider climate in both our research and our stewardship – including engagement and voting. We prioritise climate change issues that are material to our investments. For example, climate issues are financially material to the utility, fossil fuel and chemical sectors, so we appraise climate change in particular detail in these cases.
When examining climate change and material climate risks, we draw on the materiality framework developed by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and the disclosure standards consistent with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). We also work with the CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project), a non-profit that helps companies report their environmental impact.
Climate change
Also, we continue to develop tools and analytics to improve our research on material climate risk. Including:
  • Water stress exposure and physical risk analysis. We are investigating new data sources that might enable a more granular analysis of corporate risk. We are interested in assessing the exposure of facilities and operations to physical climate risk. This includes tropical storms, wildfires, flood risks and more incremental sea-level increases.
  • Scope 3 Emissions. Until recently, our analysis has focused on Scope 1 & 2 emissions, however, we have begun looking at companies’ exposure to Scope 3 emissions to help inform our Emission Trajectory Analysis.
  • Dynamic adaptation analytics. The standard way of assessing portfolio exposure to carbon emissions and climate change is through static exposure-based measures that do not consider how well companies might adapt to climate change. Responding to this, we are working on economic models that enable a more forward-looking analysis of companies’ adaptation capability.
  • Climate Value at Risk Modelling. Building on work from the London School of Economics, we are developing a climate Value At Risk (VAR) model, combining top-down macro with bottom-up fundamental analysis, to create a notional VAR number. For example using property, plant and equipment (to reflect the scope of potential capex). One possible approach is to show materiality through a cash flow-based VAR.

Industry collaborations

Signatories and affiliations: Coalitions to promote RI

We promote the value of responsible investing by taking part in industry working groups and initiatives.
We also demonstrate our commitment to responsible investing by being signatories to various codes and groups, including:
  • The United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). We were a founding signatory in 2006. Which means that responsible investment has been an established pillar of the business for well over a decade.
Signatory of PRI logo
  • UK Stewardship Code. This Code, maintained by the UK’s Financial Reporting Council, sets out a number of commonly agreed-upon principles for institutional investors’ stewardship of their shareholdings. Through these principles, the Code improves the quality of engagement between institutional investors and companies. Making governance more effective and efficient and increases long-term risk-adjusted returns to shareholders.
  • Investor Stewardship Group. This US network of investors and asset managers promotes good practice in stewardship and corporate governance.
ISG logo
  • UK Women in Finance Charter. We were the first asset manager signatory. Signatories support the advancement of women in financial services. They also set targets and implement strategies appropriate to their organisation and report on progress against these targets.
Initiatives: delivering benefits

We have collaborated on various thematic and policy initiatives, including:

  • The introduction of green gilts in the UK. The idea of a green gilt builds on the growing issuance of environmental and social sovereign bonds around the globe. It marks an important step forward in the development of the global green bond market by showing how the money raised can simultaneously deliver environmental benefits, reduce inequality and help us build back better.
Initiatives arrows
  • EU Sustainable Finance Reforms. We participate heavily in industry working groups that review and respond to the EU consultations.
  • UK Pre-emption Group. This group has developed special guidance facilitating effective capital raising during the Covid crisis.
25 June 2021

Responsible Investment Quarterly - Q1 2021

View the RI team's report from the first quarter of 2021.
Read time - 15 min
17 June 2021

Pauline Grange

Portfolio Manager, Global Equities

Fashion eyes sustainability via the circular economy

The textiles industry is one of the most pollutive in the world, emitting more CO2 than aviation and shipping combined. But a leading sports firm is showing one way the sector can embrace radical change
Read time - 4 min
15 June 2021

Pauline Grange & Jess Williams

Portfolio Manager, Global Equities & Portfolio Analyst, Responsible Investment

Global Sustainable Outcomes - News & Views Q1 2021

This issue looks at inflation and the growing conversation around it as it begins to rise across the world, and looks at sustainability within fashion using a visit to London’s flagship Adidas store to look at how brands are tackling the industry’s carbon footprint.
Read time - 12 min
8 June 2021

Ingrid Edmund

Senior Portfolio Manager

Ben Kelly

Senior Thematic Analyst

Funding Europe’s green infrastructure finance gap

Environmental, social and governance investing has received huge policy support, particularly in Europe where the build out of green infrastructure has been impressive. We look at four major investment themes this presents.
Read time - 7 min
20 May 2021

Andrea Carzana

Portfolio Manager

Sustainable aviation fuel is ready for take-off

The aviation sector consumes around 8% of all oil. How realistic are attempts to reduce emissions through the use of sustainable aviation fuel?
Read time - 3 min
22 April 2021

Earth Day 2021: How investors can support a greener future

To support Earth Day's theme – Restore Our Earth – some of our fund managers and analysts present their thoughts on important environmental issues from an investment perspective and look at ways to support a greener future.
Read time - 20 min