Banking Responsible Investments Products & Services
The demand for investments that incorporate economic as well as environmental and social aspects in addition to generating financial returns is rising steadily. At Credit Suisse, we offer a broad range of products and services that give investors access to sustainable investment opportunities.
Philanthropy & Sustainable Investment (P&SI)
Credit Suisse designs investment solutions that are based on our Philanthropy and Sustainable Investments (P&SI) approach.
Client objective: Realization of social and environmental impact through strategic philanthropy. In this field, Credit Suisse works closely with families in particular to help them incorporate family values and social objectives into their philanthropic engagement and investment strategy, providing advice on the evaluation and selection of existing projects and the establishment of vehicles, such as foundations and trusts, to facilitate charitable donations.
The umbrella foundations Accentus, Empiris and Symphasis in Switzerland and SymAsia in Singapore provide solutions for Credit Suisse clients who wish to use part of their wealth to benefit social causes. Founders have the option of establishing an individual subfoundation during their lifetime or after their death and can freely determine the name, purpose and mode of distribution. By being part of the grants committee, they are able to participate in the selection of supported charitable undertakings. Since the creation of the client foundations Accentus, Empiris and Symphasis, more than 2,300 charitable projects have been supported, with over CHF 105 million distributed. In Singapore, SymAsia has gifted around USD 28 million since it was founded in 2010. As Credit Suisse assumes the foundations' administration and management costs, the great majority of the donations goes directly toward helping worthwhile causes.
The Accentus Foundation was set up in 2000. The charitable foundation promotes social, humanitarian, cultural, medical, environmental and other charitable causes. The following is a selection of its existing funds:
Lily Waeckerlin Fund
- hands out an annual award for a high-quality music project in the field of "Youth and Music". The "Lily-Waeckerlin-Preis" (Lily Waeckerlin Prize) aims to motivate children and adolescents to not only approach music as consumers, but to become active themselves. It aims to teach the younger generation social values by having them prepare a piece of music together and through the shared joy and sense of achievement that this offers.
- supports a number of charitable projects contributing to the conservation and improvement of endangered habitats and to helping the animals that live in them, as well as projects aimed at biodiversity conservation.
Swiss Chess (Schach Schweiz)
- promotes chess in Switzerland as well as supporting related activities with a link to Switzerland in other countries. The support provided by the foundation extends to chess championships, coaching for young chess talents, chess exhibitions and public-relations activities around the sport.
The Empiris Foundation was established in 2002 with the aim of supporting projects in research, science and education. The following is a selection of its existing funds:
- funds prizes awarded to Ph.D. students in recognition of particularly outstanding contributions to basic research related to brain disorders.
- supports clinical research projects in the area of cancer and stem cells.
- supports projects that identify leukemia therapy tailored to children.
- supports projects researching the causes of Alzheimer’s or dealing with therapeutic aspects of the disease.
The Symphasis Foundation, founded in 2002, supports and finances charities committed to social, humanitarian or environmental causes, culture, health and sports. The following is a selection of its existing funds:
Protection des forêts tropicales
- finances projects that help sustain the last original tropical forests in Madagascar, Borneo and the Amazon region and which help the local population of these areas in establishing a livelihood.
Dietrich Peter Schindler
- supports projects that aim to enable elderly people to lead a more autonomous life and that contribute to the dialogue between different generations.
- contributes to the education of disadvantaged children from Rio de Janeiro's poorest neighborhoods.
- finances the construction of hospitals with maternity wards in Eritrea, providing a safe place for women to give birth to their children.
SymAsia Foundation Ltd was established in 2010 as a company limited by guarantee with Credit Suisse as the sole subscriber. Via the SymAsia platform, donors may set up their own foundations and direct giving to charitable causes/organizations worldwide. SymAsia will disburse funds as directed. SymaAsia is managed by a professional Credit Suisse team and governed by an independent Board of Directors. SymAsia has partnered with donors to support and promote their charitable causes. Two examples are described in more detail below.
Engagement With Client's Core Business: Luxasia Foundation
The Empowerment of Women Initiative was a Singapore-based project developed with SymAsia's philanthropy advisors to provide women in need of rehabilitation and support vocational skills training, enabling them to build professional competencies as a means for gainful employment. The program resonates with Luxasia Foundation's core business and client constituency.
Leveling the Education Playing Field: Chow Kwai Yoong Foundation
A donor who is passionate about providing equal opportunities to disadvantaged children worked with SymAsia's philanthropy advisors to develop a tutoring program aimed at leveling the educational playing field for children who come from underprivileged families and have poor grades in school. Aside from having students benefit from the learning support they receive, the program also seeks to employ tutors who themselves require additional income to support themselves financially.
Impact investment is about actively placing capital in enterprises that have a positive social and/or environmental impact alongside financial returns and portfolio diversification. 2017 marks the 15th anniversary of microfinance and impact investment at Credit Suisse.
In microfinance, investments are designed to provide economically disadvantaged people – especially those in emerging markets and developing countries – with access to financial services. Our activities in this area benefited over 3 million people in 2016. Microfinance started as a very simple concept: to provide working capital loans as small as USD 100 or less to the poor – who have little or no collateral – in groups, so that members guarantee repayments. Over time, the services have expanded from these group loans to individual lending, and from loans to insurance, savings and fund transfers. Microfinance offers interested clients an investment opportunity that generates both a social and a financial return. To learn about our Microfinance Capacity Building Initiative and our various social commitments in this field, visit the microfinance website.
Market-based financing mechanisms from the private finance sector have great potential where the conservation of nature is concerned. We have strengthened our activities in the area of conservation finance, which allows for both the long-term protection of natural value and a financial return for investors.
About Conservation Finance
Conservation finance refers to capital that is invested in an ecosystem in order to generate one or several cash flows. This structure permits the underlying natural capital to be protected in the long term while at the same time providing the investor with a financial return. Market-based mechanisms applied to date have primarily been based on strategies directly associated with an ecosystem – e.g., compensation payments – or on indirect approaches, such as the certification of sustainably produced goods from a particular ecosystem. Our research suggests that wealthy individuals, institutional investors and even mainstream retail investors could supply as much as USD 200-300 billion of investment capital per year needed to preserve the world's most important ecosystems.
Our Role in Conservation Finance
In early 2014, Credit Suisse published a pioneering study (PDF) on conservation finance, co-authored with WWF and McKinsey that looked at innovative private sector financing structures in conservation and the barriers and enablers to scaling up such approaches. To further sectoral discussions, we also co-organized an expert workshop hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco in 2014 with the world's leading conservation finance specialists. A summary of these discussions can be found here (PDF). In January 2015, we hosted and co-organized the first global conservation finance investor conference at our offices in New York.
In January 2016, we released a report entitled “Conservation Finance – From Niche to Mainstream” in conjunction with the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment, focusing on paradigm shifts that could initiate the next period of growth in this field. The report was released at our second global conservation finance investor conference in New York. In April 2016, we partnered with Clarmondial and the Climate Bonds Initiative to issue the report "Levering Ecosystems", which addresses the question of how debt can support investments in ecosystem services. In September 2016, we co-launched the Coalition for Private Investment in Conservation, which aims to contribute to the preservation of the world’s most important ecosystems through new return-oriented investment products. In addition, we hosted the third Credit Suisse Annual Conservation Finance Conference.
Building on our proprietary research in the field of conservation finance, Credit Suisse launched the Nature Conservation Notes in December 2014. This innovative product in the environmental impact investing space consists of investments in sustainable agroforestry and ecosystem conservation, as well as in a portfolio of sustainable bonds. The Notes make it possible to support conservation activities in around 10-15 countries and economic development of local communities through the revenues generated by projects financed by the Althelia Climate Fund, a Luxembourg-based impact fund. Financial returns are generated for the fund’s investors through the sale of sustainably certified commodities as well as from payments for ecosystem services. Social and environmental impacts are generated through the financing of community-based organizations, biodiversity and water conservation, as well as climate change mitigation. Credit Suisse's Nature Conservation Notes were named "2015 Forestry Deal of the Year" by the news and analysis service Environmental Finance.
The field of conservation finance is at an inflection point where it will need to migrate beyond donor-driven financing to commercial, investor-driven vehicles. Comparatively few sustainable investment opportunities exist in this area today, even though resources such as water and forests have the potential to deliver regular "natural" income streams. However, our research has shown that there is demand for such financial products among both private and institutional investors. After all, such products can offer not only a double dividend – financial and environmental – but a financial investment in growth markets and portfolio diversification offering protection against anticipated macroeconomic development (e.g., the limitation of national resources) and regulatory changes (e.g., offsetting biodiversity requirements for industrial companies).
Green Bonds are a fixed income solution to contribute to combating climate change and environmental degradation. A green bond is like any other bond, except that the use of proceeds is limited to projects or assets that deliver clear environmental benefits. At Credit Suisse, we finance various activities that accelerate our clients' transition towards becoming more sustainable. Some of these activities are funded through our new green bond program, which is governed by our Green Bond Framework. The framework is consistent with the Green Bond Principles, which we endorsed in 2014, and is designed to meet the highest standards of transparency and disclosure. In September 2017, we launched our first green bond under the framework.
The main goal of sustainable investments is financial returns with portfolio solutions and single investments that meet sustainability/ESG (environmental, social and governance) criteria. Our sustainable investment offering comprises portfolio solutions as well as products across all asset classes, including equities, fixed income, real estate, alternative investments, index solutions and thematic investments. Moreover, Credit Suisse Real Estate Investment Management, one of the largest real estate holders, considers sustainability essential in developing and managing investments.
Throughout 2016, we conducted sustainability-related research across our divisions. For example, Investment Solutions & Products Research in the International Wealth Management division published an update to its research into global megatrends, with corporate governance featuring as one of three megatrends discussed. The unit also introduced microfinance as a high-profile theme and a focus topic for its research in 2017, and it published the first ever research analysis by a bank on animal welfare and its impact on investors in food-related businesses.
In investment research, we publish global economic assessments and market outlooks in a range of reports. Assessments on the important role diversity plays in corporate performance and on how ESG risks impact company valuations, with a focus on the energy and mining sectors, were also among our core research publications for clients in 2016.
The Credit Suisse Research Institute (CSRI) is Credit Suisse’s in-house think-tank. It studies long-term economic developments, which have a global impact within and beyond the financial services sector or which may do so in the future. The CSRI publishes original research on topics ranging from economics or monetary policy to gender equality and consumer behavior.
Credit Suisse also addresses ESG topics through thematic indices. Credit Suisse HOLT, a corporate performance and valuation framework, offers a governance database that systematically scores incentive plans based on their alignment with wealth-creating principles. Investors gain insights into a firm’s strategy, changes to that strategy and the quality of its board. With HOLT’s proprietary return on capital metric, investors can independently assess management skills, wealth creation and governance risks.