German sustainable investment forum joins forces with new Swiss SIF to publish regional market report

Cooperation between FNG and Swiss Sustainable Finance

Forum Nachhaltige Geldanlagen (FNG), the sustainable investment forum for Germany, Austria and Switzerland, has teamed up with Swiss Sustainable Finance (SSF), a new body founded two years ago, to compile the latest FNG report on the region’s sustainable investment industry.

Responsible Investor first reported in May 2014 that alongside FNG’s Swiss arm, a second sustainable finance lobby group for Switzerland specifically would be created.

The result was SSF, which was created in part because of a feeling among financial institutions in the Francophone part of Switzerland that they were underrepresented by the FNG.

Sabine Döbeli resigned her post as a Deputy Head at FNG, in charge of Switzerland, to become the SSF’s Managing Director.

Döbeli was later replaced by Patrick Wirth, leading Berlin-based FNG to insist that it would continue to cover the Swiss market.

Indeed, several Swiss houses specialising in sustainable investments, for example J. Safra Sarasin, responsAbility, RobecoSAM or Zürcher Kantonalbank, remained members of the FNG despite the SSF’s emergence.

Now, FNG’s latest market report sends a clear sign that the two lobbies are not competing but working together to cover Switzerland. Beyond jointly distributing the report to the press, the report itself names Döbeli of SSF and Wirth of FNG as co-authors.

In it, FNG says that the volume of sustainably managed assets in Germany, Austria and Switzerland more than doubled last year, rising to €256.6bn.A quarter of that volume is in investment funds targeted mainly at retail investors. The rest of the money is either in institutional mandates or held by asset owners from the region.

Regarding norm-based exclusions, the FNG report also says that nearly €4.4bn in assets managed in the German-speaking lands excluded controversial weapons like cluster bombs and anti-personnel mines. Another €1.8bn in assets omitted nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, and other €369bn eschewed speculation in foodstuffs last year.

A new feature of the FNG report was a survey of 49 institutional investors in Germany, Switzerland and Austria regarding the extent to which they tackled climate risk in their portfolios last year. Neither the names of the investors nor their collective assets were given.

According to the survey, roughly half of the investors said they had exited coal, were engaging with fossil fuel companies on climate risk and had begun investing in renewables. Another 15 investors said they were already disclosing their carbon footprint.

Elsewhere, Volkswagen’s board is urging the company’s shareholders to vote for discharge of its management for 2015 – despite the ‘dieselgate’ scandal.

At the annual meetings of listed German companies, a vote on whether to discharge the management is always part of the agenda. When shareholders vote to discharge, this means that they are expressing confidence in management and freeing them of any legal liability. In a statement, VW’s board said it was urging management discharge for the firm’s annual meeting on June 22 despite the absence of a full report on the scandal.