BBVA, Ferrovial and Fundación Entorno present their recommendations to boost SRI in Spain
The measures are designed for business but are also addressed at regulators and the market
This morning, BBVA, Ferrovial and Fundación Entorno presented the report Socially responsible investment. Values creating value, which seeks to boost the SRI market in Spain. The report was presented by leading representatives of the three institutions at the VII National Environment Conference (CONAMA).
The report commences by examinning how analysts and investors obtain and assess information on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at listed companies. It concludes that the SRI market in Spain is incipient as companies have not yet found a way to transmit their corporate responsibility policies to shareholders and the market as a tangible value. Consequently, the report highlights the need to adopt common approaches for disclosing information to investors and analysts and for drafting sustainability reports.
The transmission of SRI values to the investment community is still inefficient, stated Cristina García-Orcoyen, head of Fundación Entorno, when presenting the conclusions of the report. For this reason, one of the main recommendations in the report is that annual reports should be useful to the investment community and to financial intermediaries”.
According to Amalia Blanco, Head of External Relations and Communications at Ferrovial, by integrating sustainability policies, companies can create shareholder value; if companies are not capable of transmitting this message to the market, there is the risk that the current trends in social responsibility will be merely a fad.
José Ignacio Wert, head of Corporate Relations at BBVA, agreed; he explained that the term SRI had evolved: We are no longer talking about investors who are particularly sensitive to certain ethical, social or environmental values and wish to rule out a given type of investment; SRI is now becoming a full-blown investment philosophy that is arousing interest among conventional investors.
The group of experts which BBVA, Ferrovial and Fundación Entorno assembled to draft the report participated in a debate on Socially Responsible Investment in Spain prior to CONAMA. The report is a continuation of work which Ferrovial and Fundación Entorno commenced in 2002 to foster the development of Corporate Responsibility and increase recognition in the markets, particularly the financial markets, of the companies efforts.
Two years on, the experts conclude that Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) is starting to make inroads in the conventional financial sector since some of the large international portfolio managers include Corporate Responsibility criteria in their investment analyses and countries such as France and Germany have included in their regulations the legal framework implemented in the United Kingdom regarding the transparency requirements for asset managers. At the same time, assets invested in SRI have also increased.
The new report is aimed not only at discussing whether or not environmental and social factors are risk elements in investment decisions but also at providing practical measures in order kick-start the SRI market in Spain. In this respect, the study also tries to provide solutions to the difficulties encountered by companies, investors and the market.
The recommendations are for all stakeholders. Companies are recommended to evolve towards an all-embracing context in order to systematically facilitate disclosure to investors. Regulators are recommended to foster investor interest by explaining that CSR policies increase a company´s value. The market, especially the Stock Market, is responsible for opening new dialogue channels that facilitate the transfer of information between the business community and investors, so that companies can receive feedback from stakeholders.
The report also recommends that GRI requirements should be aligned with the information needs and language of fundamental analysts and, in order to facilitate comparison and enable GRI requirements to adapt better to companies´ risk profile, the report recommends that sectorial guides should contain not only additional requirements but also the specific requirements envisaged in the global guide, depending on investors demand for information.
The measures are addressed to the business community as well as regulators and the market itself.
Matt Christensen, Executive Director of Eurosif, presented a study on Socially Responsible Investment among Institutional Investors in 2003, which was drafted in eight European countries. Christensen stated that institutional SRI currently amounts to 336 billion euros in Europe, of which only 80 million euros are in Spain. According to Christensen, the United Kingdom and The Netherlands lead the market although there are many differences within Europe when analysing the investment factors. For example, SRIs roots are ethical in the United Kingdom, ecological in Germany, social in France, and religious and ethical in Italy.
Christensen stated that the recent corporate scandals, legislation and the creation of sustainability indexes such as the DJSI, Domini and FTSE4Good are the main driving forces behind SRI, combined with institutional investors growing interest through pension funds and awards for best practices and corporate governance.
The report presented today by BBVA, Ferrovial and Fundación Entorno is aimed precisely at contributing to the development of a sound SRI market in Spain under coordinated transparency and disclosure guidelines.