While financial returns matter, so too does the impact our investments have on society and the environment. We work closely with BMO’s Responsible Investment team to systematically integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into BMO Capital and Income Investment Trust’s investment process, with a view to reducing risk and improving returns over the long term – both in financial and sustainability terms.
BMO – a pioneer in responsible investing
Since launching Europe’s first ethically screened fund in 1984, BMO has been investing responsibly for more than 35 years. Today its Responsible Investment team comprises 20+ sustainability experts with over 275 years collective experience.
ESG that’s not just box-ticking
At BMO, responsible investing goes beyond just careful investment decision-making to influence positive change around the world. BMO has been engaging companies for over 20 years on ESG issues to help drive improvement in ESG practices. Over the past two decades, BMO has engaged more than 5,700 companies, resulting in 4,106 instances of positive change.* In recent years, BMO has aligned its engagement efforts to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals are an ambitious roadmap for a creating a more sustainable global economy and society by 2030 – from ending poverty to tackling climate change – and provide a useful framework for company engagement.
*As at 31 December 2020
BMO Capital and Income Investment Trust – ESG engagement in practice
During 2020, BMOs Responsible Investment team engaged 36 times with management in the Company’s portfolio. The most common topics for discussion were corporate governance, climate change, labour and environmental standards.
BMO also exercises its right to vote as another way to influence positive change. Voting against management on key resolutions sends a clear signal to companies on the importance of improving their business practices. BMO regularly engages companies before and after voting to explain their expectations and invite comment, and to explain its reasons for any votes against management. With respect to BMO Capital and Income Investment Trust's investments, in the year to 30 September 2020, BMO voted at 74 meetings of investee companies held in the portfolio. Public details of all BMO’s voting activity, including rationale for votes against management, become available on the website the day after each shareholder meeting.
The future of investor engagement
Whilst our manager has influenced for good over the past 20 years, they also recognise that much more needs to be done to secure a sustainable future for us all. In the decade ahead, BMO will continue to focus on the achievement of the SDGs, stepping up engagement to tackle key systemic risks such as climate change, biodiversity and social inequality.