In the Ethical Partners Operational Risk Assessment which is used for the Ethical Partners Australian Share Fund, we exclude companies that have significant operations in countries that are in the bottom third of the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (TICPI). The Index is an independent tool which ranks 176 countries and territories by their perceived levels of corruption. Our reasoning for excluding companies in the bottom third of the TICPI are several. Firstly, we believe that there is a higher risk of human rights abuses taking place in these countries due to their higher levels of corruption. Additionally, there are lower levels of transparency and lower standards of governance. Secondly from an investment point of view, being a bottom up stock picker who visits company assets from time to time, it can be both dangerous and sometimes impossible to gain access to company operations in these countries. This makes the valuation of assets difficult and lowers confidence in an investment case. Thirdly we believe that generally, for those companies operating in such regions, there is a less stable political and regulatory environment, more chance of encountering issues such as nepotism, bribery, raised costs, the undermining of fair prices and competition and reputational risks, that ultimately leads to higher business risk. Ethical Partners clients can feel satisfied that they will not be supporting companies that operate in such areas and that we have taken steps to avoid these identifiable investment risks.
During December 2020 the Fund returned 2.11% versus the S&P/ASX 300 Accumulation Index of 1.32%, outperforming the market by 0.79% (after fees). Overweight positions in Renewable Energy and Transition Commodities and an underweight position in Healthcare contributed to relative performance while an overweight position in Food Products and an underweight position in Information Technology detracted from relative performance.
Ethical Partners has made a submission to to the inquiry on the Climate Change Bill. In our view it is clear that we desperately need whole of government support around the important elements of this bill.
Biodiversity is a very important area of engagement for us at EPFM, and an area of increasing interest for investors. Experts believe that we are in the midst of the Earth’s sixth mass extinction event -some 75 per cent of terrestrial and 66 per cent of marine environments have already been severely altered by human activity and one million species face extinction – many within decades.
During October 2020 the Fund returned 2.85% versus the S&P/ASX 300 Accumulation Index of 1.89%, outperforming the market by 0.96% (after fees). Overweight positions in Insurance stocks and an underweight position in Metals & Mining contributed to relative performance while overweight positions in Consumer Staples and Media & Entertainment detracted from relative performance.