AXA invests €150m into impact, puts ESG at heart of €476bn asset mandates

Measures announced as part of new group-wide RI policy.

AXA, the French insurance giant, has committed €150m to a new impact investment programme and published a group RI strategy for its €476bn insurance assets as part of its commitment made at the end of last year in signing the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment. Matt Christensen, Global Head of Responsible Investment at AXA Investment Managers, is overseeing the new impact investment programme.It is structured as a fund-of-funds investing in third party impact investment vehicles as well as environmental projects that demonstrate social impact. It is understood that the programme has made its first investments with external managers. Impact investments seek to create both financial returns and a positive social or environmental effect that is actively measured. AXA said the adoption of the RI policy for the insurance group reflects a longstanding belief that ESG factors have the potential to impact investment portfolios across companies, sectors, regions and asset classes over time, affecting risk and returns, and as such “require active consideration and monitoring”. Importantly, AXA said it will “progressively and systematically” integrateESG criteria into its investment mandates across asset classes and regions. It said it is developing specific measurement tools to ensure that ESG performance of its internal and external managers is tracked accurately and can be improved over time.
AXA’s internal fund management subsidiaries, Paris-based AXA Investment Managers and AXA Private Equity, and Alliance Bernstein, its US fund manager, are all PRI signatories. The lion’s share (about 70% in the case of AXA IM) of the assets managed by the subsidiaries is group insurance cash, with Alliance Bernstein running about 25%, and the remainder via other specialist third party managers. In an interview with RI in March this year, AXA group CIO Laurent Clamagirand recounted the background to the formulation of the new RI policy. AXA said the RI “mainstreaming” process across its assets includes a framework for the development of investment guidelines for sectors that can pose environmental, social or ethical challenges.
Link to AXA’s new RI policy