Sustainable Investment Awards 2021

Multi-asset manager of the year; ESG multi-asset fund of the year: Coutts

Having reduced the carbon emissions of its equity investments by 26%, on average, in 2020 ahead of its 2021 target, Coutts has been named a double winner in the Environmental Finance Sustainable Investment Awards.

Mohammad SyedThis reduction has put Coutts ahead of its 2021 target to cut carbon emissions by 25% across its equity holdings, compared with January 2020. The bank, which forms part of NatWest Group's wealth management division, has committed to achieving net-zero investments by 2050 and halving carbon intensity across all of its funds and discretionary portfolios, in line with the Paris Agreement.

"It is a great honour to have won two Sustainable Investment Awards this year. We are proud not only of how closely we work alongside our clients to address environmental, social and governance issues, but that we do this as well as delivering top-tier investment returns," said Mohammad Syed, head of asset management at Coutts. These awards recognise the ambitious actions we've taken to be leading, forward-looking and transparent about the way our investments consider ESG issues and we're all absolutely delighted."

Coutts also believes itself to be an active investor to drive positive change at its more than 280 companies and 80 fund managers. This led to it having more than 100 meetings with clients and fund managers on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. As part of this Coutts has formed a three-way partnership with asset managers BlackRock and stewardship partner EOS at Federated Hermes to further imbed ESG into the investment offering. Through this partnership with EOS, they engaged with oil giant BP. This engagement included filing a shareholder resolution and ultimately led to BP restating its business purpose, which included the desire to reach net-zero emissions.

Coutts details one engagement with one of its fund managers that did not have a responsible investing policy as they did not consider ESG material at this stage. Through ongoing dialogue with the fund manager Coutts was able to convince them of the importance of incorporating ESG into decision-making. As a result, the fund manager hired a responsible investing analyst and is continuing to expand the team.

"I liked the story here. Primarily retail oriented but a good, consistent track record of being active in the space," said one Environmental Finance Sustainable Investment Awards judge about Coutts entry for ESG multi-asset fund of the year. Another added that it was the "comfortable winner" of the Multi-asset manager of the year award.