BUSINESS
01/28/2016 10:00 am ET Updated Jan 28, 2017

AXA Investment Managers' CEO, Andrea Rossi, discusses the Meaning of Inclusive Capitalism

At AXA, we believe inclusive capitalism means doing business with a purpose. As a global insurer and investor, we believe protecting people over the long term and creating stronger and more sustainable societies is in line with our interests. We also believe it is our responsibility, as a long-term institutional investor, to act in the best interests of our employees, customers, shareholders and also of other stakeholders.

Insurance stands on two legs: protection - of people, goods and physical assets - on the one side, and investments, to enable this protection, on the other. As an insurer, by protecting people against risks, we are helping them to live their lives with more peace of mind. As a long-term investor, we have integrated environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria in our investment decisions. Finally, as an asset manager, we grow the money that is entrusted to us by policyholders, to help them realize their projects. As such, AXA contributes to helping people to gain access and seize opportunities, thus supporting a more inclusive capitalism.

In addition to these, several initiatives have been launched to further fulfil AXA's social purpose, and make a positive contribution to the social and physical environment in which we operate. We have developed strict guidelines to exclude controversial sectors from our investments, such as weapons, soft commodity derivatives, palm oil and forestry, but also, more recently, coal-related activities.

Over the past 2 years, we have seen the carbon risk debate shift from specialist NGOs, think tanks and corporate responsibility circles to activist investors, the Bank of England and now the G20 and the Financial Stability Board. We believe this signals a clear change in governments' perception of the role financial actors can play. Finance is no longer seen as an 'enemy' of sustainable development, but rather as a key driver of the shift towards a low carbon economy. At AXA, we sincerely believe that divesting from coal contributes both to de-risking our investment portfolios and to increasing alignment with AXA's corporate responsibility strategy to build a stronger and cleaner society.

In addition to this exclusion policy, with a more positive approach, AXA allocates capital to investment strategies whose goal is to focus on assets that address key sustainability concerns such as renewable energy, poverty, health or risk prevention, while offering an attractive yield on investment, through the 'Impact' and 'Clean Energy' funds. We have also committed to allocating more than €3bn to green investments by 2020, including €1bn in green bonds.

Finally, at AXA, we are convinced greater diversity in the senior management of a company can support positive financial performance, and have increased the diversity in our Board of Directors, in terms of nationality and gender. As part of our thought leadership effort, and our stewardship engagement, AXA Investment Managers' Responsible Investment has published an analysis on board diversity in Euro STOXX 50 companies, which confirms this analysis, and highlights the importance of increasing diversity to succeed in emerging markets. As one of the world's largest corporations, we have a role as an international corporate citizen. We hope that these actions can create a momentum, and encourage others to follow, and make capitalism more inclusive.