Eurosif launches new version of the SRI Transparency Code
Eurosif, the European Sustainable Investment Forum, backed by national organisations across Europe, has released the third version of the European SRI Transparency Code which aims at increasing accountability and clarifying “socially responsible” practices among investors.
Tracing its roots to the European Transparency Guidelines unveiled in 2004, the Code was first launched in May 2008.
Its driving principle is that asset manager signatories should be open and honest, and disclose accurate, adequate and timely information to enable stakeholders, in particular retail investors, to understand the policies and practices of a given socially responsible investment (SRI) fund.
The Code focuses on SRI funds distributed publicly in Europe and has been designed to cover a range of asset classes, such as equity and fixed income.
As of December 2012, more than 500 funds from over 50 signatories have adopted the Code, against an estimated total of 884 SRI funds publicly distributed in Europe. The Code has been made a mandatory requirement by a number of national SRI labels or trade associations in Europe.
In the updated version, the objectives remain:
1. To clarify the SRI approach of publicly-available funds for investors in an easily accessible and comparable format.
2. To strengthen a self-regulation that contributes to the development and promotion of SRI funds by setting up a common framework for transparency best practices.
To better reflect industry developments, the new version includes a more compact and investor-friendly document with fewer sections and fewer questions. Better comparability of answers through sub-questions, drawn from the previous Guidance Manual, is designed to enhance the standardisation and the precision of the answers.
A set of new questions covers important new subject areas such as the potential use of derivative instruments or securities lending, and there is a clearer emphasis on controls and reporting to investors.
The updated Code was developed in collaboration with the national SIFs and the French Association Française de Gestion (AFG). Compliance enables French asset managers to meet the requirements of the recently enforced “Grenelle II” French Law.
As of the end of February 2013, the European SRI Transparency Code V3.0 will replace the previous version. The Code comes with a Guidance Manual for fund managers on how to properly use and respond to the Transparency Code.
Eurosif said it will strictly control the use of the Transparency Logo attached to the Code, alongside national Sustainable Investment Forums, which will assess whether applicant responses are clearly articulated, informative and clear.
Eurosif executive director François Passant said the updated Code brings further clarity, comprehensiveness and conciseness of information for investors.
“Building on the past success of the Code, we intend to further increase its adoption and promote it as best practice for any SRI fund publicly available in Europe. We will be doing so through our continuous partnership with the national SIFs while also seeking further partnerships as appropriate,” he said.