Environmental, Social and Governance

We consider environmental, social and governance factors as part of our investment process

How we invest responsibly 

Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) Engagement  

Although environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) factors are not the over-riding criteria in relation to the investment decisions taken by the Investment Manager, significant prominence is placed on ESG and climate related factors throughout the investment process. The following pages highlight the way that ESG and climate change are considered by the Investment Manager. These processes are reviewed regularly and liable to change and the latest information will be available on the Company’s website.

By embedding ESG factors into our active equity investment process we aim to reduce risk, enhance potential value for our investors and foster companies that can contribute positively to the world.

Please see pages 30 to 35 of the annual report for more information.

Existing investors

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Assessing Risk, Enhancing Value

Whilst the management of the Company’s investments is not undertaken with any specific instructions to exclude certain asset types or classes, the consideration of ESG factors is a fundamental part of the Investment Manager’s process and has been so for over 30 years. It is one of the key dimensions on which the Investment Manager assesses the investment case for any company in which it invests for three key reasons as set out below. 

Financial returns: ESG factors can be financially material – the level of consideration they are given in a company will ultimately have an impact on corporate performance, either positively or negatively. Those companies that take their ESG responsibilities seriously tend to outperform those that do not. 

Fuller insight: Systematically assessing a company’s ESG risks and opportunities alongside other financial metrics allows the Manager to make far better investment decisions. 

Corporate advancement: Informed and constructive engagement helps foster better companies, protecting and enhancing the value of the Company’s investments.

We believe that the market systematically undervalues the importance of ESG factors. We believe that in-depth ESG analysis is part of both fundamental company research and portfolio construction and will lead to better client outcomes.

Please see pages 30 to 35 of the annual report for more information. 

Deeper company insights for better investor outcomes

The Investment Manager conducts extensive and high-quality fundamental and first-hand research to fully understand the investment case for every company in the portfolio. A key part of this research involves focusing its extensive resources on analysis of ESG issues. As set out in more detail below, the Investment Manager’s portfolio managers, ESG Equity Analysts and central ESG Investment Team collaborate to generate a deep understanding of the ESG risks and opportunities associated with each company. Stewardship and active engagement with every company are also fundamental to the investment process, helping to produce positive outcomes that lead to better risk-adjusted returns. 

Portfolio Managers: All of the Investment Manager’s equity portfolio managers seek to engage actively with companies to gain insight into their specific risks and opportunities and provide a positive ongoing influence on their corporate strategy for governance, and environmental and social impact.

ESG Equity Analysts: The Investment Manager has dedicated and highly experienced ESG equity analysts located across the UK, US, Asia and Australia. Working as part of individual investment teams, rather than as a separate department, these specialists are integral to pre-investment due diligence and post investment ongoing company engagement. They are also responsible for taking thematic research produced by the central ESG Investment Team (see below), interpreting and translating it into actionable insights and engagement programmes for its regional investment strategies.

ESG Investment Team: This central team of more than 20 experienced specialists based in Edinburgh and London provides ESG consultancy and insight for all asset classes. Taking a global approach both identifies regions, industries and sectors that are most vulnerable to ESG risks and identifies those that can take advantage of the opportunities presented. Working with portfolio managers, the team is key to the Investment Manager’s active stewardship approach of using shareholder voting and corporate engagement to drive positive change.

Global ESG infrastructure: 
abrdn has around 150 equity professionals globally. Each systematically analyses ESG risks and opportunities as part of the Manager’s research output for each company. Its central team and ESG equity analysts support the investment managers’ first-hand company analysis, producing research into specific themes (e.g. labour relations or climate change), sectors (e.g. forestry) and ESG topics to understand and highlight best practice. Examples of thematic and sector research can be found on abrdn.com/en/uk/investor/responsible-investing.

Please see pages 30 to 35 of the annual report for more information.


Climate change is one of the most significant challenges of the 21st century and has big implications for investors. The energy transition is underway in many parts of the world, and policy changes, falling costs of renewable energy, and a change in public perception are happening at a rapid pace. Assessing the risks and opportunities of climate change is a core part of the investment process. In particular, the Investment Manager considers:

  • Transition risks and opportunities: Governments could take robust climate change mitigation actions to reduce emissions and transition to a low-carbon economy. This is reflected in targets, policies and regulation and can have a considerable impact on high-emitting companies.
  • Physical risks and opportunities: Insufficient climate change mitigation action will lead to more severe and frequent physical damage. This results in financial implications, including damage to crops and infrastructure, and the need for physical adaptation such as flood defences. The Investment Manager has aligned its approach with that advocated by the investor agenda of the Principles for Responsible Investment (“PRI”) – a United Nations-supported initiative to promote responsible investment as a way of enhancing returns and better managing risk.

Please see pages 30 to 35 of the annual report for more information.

What's the ESG scoring system?

Having considered the regional universe and peer group in which a company operates, the Investment Manager allocates it an ESG score between one and five. This is applied across every stock covered globally. Examples of each category and a small sample of the criteria used are detailed below:

    1. Best in class

  • ESG considerations are a material part of the company’s core business strategy
  • The company provides excellent disclosure on ESG issues
  • The company provides opportunities from strong ESG management.

  • 2. Leader

  • ESG considerations are good but not market-leading
  • Disclosure is good but not best in class
  • Governance is generally very good.

  • 3. Average

  • ESG risks are considered as a part of the principal business
  • Disclosure is in line with regulatory requirements
  • Governance is generally good but with some minor concerns

  • 4. Below average

  • There is evidence of some financially material controversies
  • There is poor governance or limited oversight of key ESG issues
  • There are some issues in treating minority shareholders poorly.

  • 5. Laggard

  • Many financially material controversies
  • Severe governance concerns
  • Poor treatment of minority shareholders.
Please see pages 30 to 35 of the annual report for more information.

Once abrdn invests in a company, it is committed to helping that company maintain or raise their ESG standards further, using the Manager’s position as a shareholder to press for action as needed. abrdn actively engages with the companies in which it invests to help them stay good companies and become even better businesses. The Manager sees this programme of regular engagement as a necessary fulfilment of its duty as a responsible steward of clients’ assets. It is also an opportunity to share examples of best practice seen in other companies and to use the Manager’s influence to effect positive change. The Manager’s engagement is not limited to the company’s management team. It can include many other stakeholders such as non-government agencies, industry and regulatory bodies, as well as activists and the company’s clients. What gets measured gets managed – so the Manager strongly encourages companies to set clear targets or key performance indicators on all material ESG risks where appropriate. 

Please see pages 30 to 35 of the annual report for more information.

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