Working with our clients towards a better society
Our clients care deeply about societal issues and want to use their resources for the benefit and advancement of individuals, communities and societies around the globe. They are increasingly focused on issues such as the maintenance of functioning infrastructures, the impact of climate change, the strains imposed by demographic shifts, the growth in inequalities, and the provision of education, jobs and healthcare for all.
As a global company, and the world’s largest wealth manager, we are in a unique position to help our clients address their societal concerns. As their trusted financial advisor, we recognize this responsibility and take it seriously. For a long time, we have been helping them to invest according to sustainable and responsible criteria. Building on this capability, in 2013, we made a significant commitment to maximize these efforts through a dedicated, industry-leading platform. This will deliver comprehensive research, advisory and product capabilities in sustainable investments and philanthropy, and is currently under development. While we have always provided such offerings, it is our objective to do this holistically, channeling a growing percentage of assets, through innovative financial mechanisms, to address societal challenges and make societal performance part of every client conversation.
To date, 24% of our assets are already invested according to sustainable and socially responsible investment criteria. We want this to increase, in particular through developing innovative solutions. In 2013, a key example included our ground-breaking Impact Investing Private Equity fund for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in emerging and frontier markets. This provides our clients with yet more opportunities to direct their investments and address social and environmental challenges. Client focus is also a crucial component of our climate change strategy. In 2013, we made progress in several areas, including through the environmental optimization of our Global Real Estate investment portfolios, by offering the “Energy check-up for SMEs” to Swiss SMEs, and through our innovative UBS Clean Energy Infrastructure Switzerland fund for our institutional clients, enabling them to invest in renewable energy infrastructures.
We also continue to provide thought leadership in this area through our leading research capabilities and our active involvement in discussions on key societal topics. In 2013, an important example was the collaboration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) research experts in Wealth Management, Global Asset Management and the Investment Bank on one of our flagship publications, the “UBS Research Focus.” Recognizing growing client interest in sustainable investing, this publication explored sustainability issues and demonstrated how a well-considered sustainability approach can add real value to a client’s portfolio. As a second major example, we co-launched the Thun Group of Banks’ discussion paper on banking and human rights, which examines the ways in which our industry can effectively implement the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Our own efforts towards the sustainable development of societies and communities, including our community investment and employee volunteering activities focused on education and entrepreneurship, complement our client-focused platform. Our response to the devastation in the Philippines caused by Typhoon Haiyan demonstrates our unique and integrated approach. UBS Community Affairs and the UBS Optimus Foundation joined forces, including both clients and employees in our firm’s matched-giving schemes. This resulted in a combined (client and UBS) commitment of more than CHF 3 million in financial contributions. While the UBS Optimus Foundation established a Rapid Response Emergency Fund to provide immediate essential supplies to children and families in the hardest hit and most remote areas, contributions will also be used for the longer-term reconstruction and development efforts that must follow.
We aim to work with, and for, our clients towards a better society. The spirit and ambition of our client-focused approach is aimed at helping our clients express their values and achieve both financial and societal benefits. We will continue to expand our capabilities in order to provide our clients with an industry-leading and integrated range of sustainability and impact investment products and services, which will enable them to continue to invest with societal goals in mind.
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