The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) aim to bring together the public and private sectors of its member countries in a concerted effort to build a better future for succeeding generations. These are goals that address the global challenges we face to achieve a sustainable future for everyone by 2030.
ATRAM, an independent asset and wealth manager in the Philippines, joins in this call to build a better and more inclusive world inspired by the UN SDGs. It has taken the advocacy further with the launch of the ATRAM Philippine Sustainable Development and Growth Fund last year as the first fund in the market that has a portfolio of firms that are selected based on sustainability and social responsibility in their business models.
ATRAM recognizes that investors are increasingly investing in sustainability themes. The desire of the socially responsible investor is to combine a positive financial return with an equally positive contribution to the environment and society. Evidence to date suggests that sustainable investing can be financially attractive—as demonstrated by the ATRAM Philippine Sustainable Development and Growth Fund in its first year.
True to the company’s call to investors to #TakeOnTomorrow, ATRAM recognizes the efforts of many publicly listed companies in integrating sustainability into their operations and strategies. In this regard, ATRAM introduces the ATRAM Sustainable Investing Champions. ATRAM celebrates these outstanding Philippine companies for their initiatives to create a positive impact on sustainability, especially by integrating it into their core operations and overall strategy.
There are three categories in the ATRAM Sustainable Investing Champions namely, Wellness, Progress, and Fairness. The Wellness Champion is recognized for programs that promote community health and development through education and a clean environment. The Progress Champion is recognized for its support of the circular economy and firm growth through progressive management of labor and capital. The Fairness Champion upholds a commitment to promoting entrepreneurship and respect for rule of law and human rights, including gender equality.
The following have come up as Champions:
Wellness: Globe Telecom, Inc, (GLO). Globe is the only company that boasts of programs that promote a smoke-free working environment. Its well-being programs extend into investments in 917Ventures 00 the only company invested in innovations in healthcare such as telehealth services; and in establishing Globe University that helps educate and upskill its workforce while supporting educators. According to Globe, the company’s head office is already carbon neutral. This was achieved through a substantial investment in a partnership with a foundation to sequester carbon via long-term tree-planting activities.
Progress: Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI). In a survey conducted across our universe of companies that highlights investments in research & development and innovation and employee feedback on the effectivity of R&D programs, BPI ranks the highest among all companies. The bank’s estimated allocation of its budget towards disaster mitigation ranks high amongst its peers. BPI is also one with the highest percentages of regularized workers in their workforce and is one of the most balanced workforce in terms of age distribution and thus contributing to employment and economic growth goals.
Fairness: Axelum Resources Corp. (AXLM). The company maintains a training hub for 2,600 of their coconut farmers, which introduces inter-crop farming and livestock-raising, as well as provides assorted seedlings and other farm inputs, to augment their income by selling their harvests to Axelum, local marketplaces, and other prospective buyers. Axelum is also inclusive—nearly half of its executive team and board are women. As of end-2020, Axelum has 24 indigenous and PWD employees from only having one in 2018, and they aim to double that number.
In addition to these three honors, ATRAM also has given recognition for best performance and best sustainability report:
- Best performance: UnionBank of the Philippines, Inc. (UBP). UnionBank performed posted more than 80% total return in 2021, in addition to being one of the highest-scoring companies.
- Best sustainability report: Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI). Among the sustainability reports we reviewed, ALI’s best incorporates correct, comprehensive, and actionable data that tie into their narratives and overall corporate strategy.
“These recognitions are a fruit of our unique investment process that looks into the company’s integration of the SDGs. What we look at are its sustainability reporting, the establishment of actionable and measurable sustainability outcomes or indicators, and incorporation of policies supportive of the UN SDGs in corporate strategy and operations,” says Phillip Hagedorn, ATRAM Group’s Chief Investment Officer.
In commenting on the five awarded companies, Hagedorn adds, “These companies were recognized because they have a good reputation and integrate sustainability measures in their operations. Over the long term, studies have shown that companies who integrate the UN SDGs tend to outperform others who do not. The ATRAM Philippine Sustainable Development and Growth Fund outperformed the PSEi by 20% in 2021.”
Sustainability is the future of investing, Hagedorn says. “We at ATRAM believe that the traditional view of fundamental analysis will eventually evolve to include sustainability. Investors and markets of the future will view sustainable investing and fundamental investing as one and the same. You need to look at the factors apart from profitability, apart from your balance sheet, apart from competitiveness.
If the business is aligned to the UN SDGs, it will be able to create good outcomes for the world. “Companies that provide energy, sustenance, employment, and jobs, those are all key components, and the UN SDG is a way to frame those outcomes to create that impact and that value for other people.” It is also important for the businesses themselves, he says. “Businesses help themselves protect against differing regulations with regards to energy, protect their reputation and increase their brand equity by being able to invest a lot into renewable energy and communities.”
ATRAM encourages all publicly listed companies to qualify for next year’s ATRAM Sustainable Investing Champions. They can do this by examining how they can support the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in their core operations. They can request research coverage from ATRAM sustainability research at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To know more about the ATRAM Philippine Sustainable Development and Growth Fund, visit https://www.atram.com.ph/funds/selector/ATRSDGA.