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Sustainability belongs to the DNA of our company

Sustainability at Universal Investment

What does sustainability mean to us?

As the largest bank-independent fund service platform in the German-speaking world, Universal Investment assumes responsibility for customers employees, society and the environment. Corporate sustainability is part of the DNA of our company. This importance is underlined strategically by the integration of sustainability into our vision and operationally by the organisational anchoring of the ESG office.



As a company and as a service partner to our customers, we have two effective levers to drive sustainable development. Global awareness and the need for sustainable development mean that economic systems, as well as financial systems, must change.

As a platform, we see ourselves in the unique position to link the entire value chain of capital management, to support our clients in sustainable investments as a competent partner, and to drive change in the marketplace through comprehensive exchange and cooperation. 

  • Eurosif Report 2021 - fostering investor impact

    Fostering investor impact - this is the motto of the 2021 report by Eurosif, the European association for the promotion of sustainable investments. In view of global developments, including but not limited to climate change, the association recommends, among other things:

    1. Implementing a regulatory framework that fosters investor engagement with        companies and policymakers (SRD II, SFDR, EU Taxonomy, EU Green Deal)
    2. Improving market signals generated through the EU sustainable finance agenda
    3. Increasing investor impact by de-risking investments necessary for net-zero

    We are proud to be a sponsor of the new report and to be able to show how we support institutional investors and fund promoters in implementing sustainability risks.

Our position on sustainability

Our commitment



Our customers, our employees as well as society and environment form the pillars of our sustainable corporate success. We achieve our vision with a sustainability strategy that meets our responsibility for these three areas. Corporate goals, customer orientation and employee satisfaction should be in line with social and ecological principles.

Our customers, our employees as well as society and environment  form the pillars of our sustainable corporate success. We achieve our vision with a sustainability strategy that meets our responsibility for these three areas. Corporate goals, customer orientation and employee satisfaction should be in line with social and ecological principles.
As a central platform for institutional investors and fund initiators, the Universal Investment Group is a fundamental building block of the financial industry. To live up to the related high level of responsibility, we have actively committed ourselves to the "Principles for Responsible Investment" (PRI).
This voluntary commitment, developed by the United Nations, aims to increase the incorporation of environmental, social and corporate governance factors in investment decisions. Since its foundation in 1968, the Universal Investment Group – as a fund service platform – has strictly excluded active asset management.
For this reason, these PRI principles are of utmost importance for us:

- We will promote acceptance and implementation of the PRI principles within the investment industry.
- We will work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the PRI principles.
- We will each report on our activities and progress towards implementing the PRI principles.

  • Sustainable investments with us

     

    As an independent fund service platform, we pool the investments of institutional investors such as pension funds, companies and foundations, as well as of fund initiators such as asset managers, banks and investment boutiques. This platform model makes us an ideal partner to accompany our clients on the way to integrating sustainability into their investments and thus also to support the PRI principles, which are more related to active asset management.

     

  • Knowledge exchange & development

     

    In addition, we want to promote cooperation in the field of sustainability, create transparency, establish new standards and actively help shape them. The networking and cooperation with other sustainability initiatives is therefore of great importance. Accordingly, the Universal Investment Group is involved in associations and working groups that promote and develop sustainable issues in the financial sector. We participate in initiatives, sustainable product developments of our customers or develop new products or services with fintechs and start-ups that promote sustainability in the financial industry.

  • Cooperation & transparency

     

    We aim to effectively share knowledge and raise awareness of ESG issues in the financial industry, thereby accelerating their implementation and development. The Universal Investment Group defines its own role as an enabler, since its platform links the entire value chain of the asset management industry.

     

Implementation and responsibilities

Implementation and responsibilities

Sustainability and corporate responsibility are already lived at the
Universal Investment Group and play an increasingly important role in our strategic positioning. This is also demonstrated by the fact that we have anchored the issue directly at our CEO.

Sustainability in company organisation

Sustainability has also been structurally implemented in the company organisation. Firstly, a sustainability officer had been appointed, whose role is to support the integration of sustainability in all areas of the company and communicate sustainability issues both internally and externally.

Secondly, an ESG office has been established as a separate entity within the company under the leadership of the sustainability officer. The ESG office has been set up as an interdisciplinary team, bringing together employees from different departments such as communications, legal, risk, sales and the product and operations divisions.

This approach enables the Universal Investment Group to respond flexibly to the growing demands and to accompany the constant change with the newly created structure.

Our responsibility to our customers


As independent fund service platform and fiduciary, we ensure the responsible handling of investors' capital and rights. We have co-authored the code of rules of the German fund industry association BVI and comply with the voluntary principles and regulations of the German asset management industry.

We strive to support our business partners in the integration of sustainability in their investments and accompany them with our expertise. Our strategy is based on three pillars. These not only serve to promote acceptance, transparency and cooperation, but also enable joint development of sustainability in the financial industry in the future.

  • ESG hub

    With the establishment of an "ESG hub", we want to use our fund service platform to focus on knowledge-sharing and support our partners in integrating sustainability by creating transparency and jointly building networks to share know-how. This voluntary initiative is intended to enable our partners and us to learn from each other and to jointly pursue new, sustainable paths.

  • ESG services

    As a fund service platform, it is our main task to support our clients by implementing sustainable strategies. Therefore, we offer a variety of services for institutional investors and fund initiators. These include, for instance, individual ESG reportings or tailor-made investment concepts based on ESG indices.

  • ESG innovation

    Since its foundation in 1968 as the inventor of master funds and pioneer of private label funds, the Universal Investment Group has been an innovation driver in the German financial industry with the aim to create added value for our customers. Since 2019, we have build our own Innovation Management to further strengthen our innovation culture. The combination of sustainability and innovation is one of the driving themes in the development of new services and standards.

Mission statement


Our self-image

Universal-Investment-Gesellschaft mbH, member of BVI Bundesverband Investment und Asset Management e. V., acts in coherence with the mission statement of the German investment fund industry

We are committed to the investors as trustee

In managing the assets entrusted to us, we solely act in the interests of our investors. We pursue their rights independently. We appreciate the governmental oversight over this legal obligation; it differentiates us from other providers of investment products. Our funds are protected against bankruptcy since the funds assets are segregated. They are under the independent control of the respective depository, which is also supervised by a competent supervisory authority.

We are producing benefits for economy and society

We enable access to all investment markets equally to small and large investors. By making investors‘ money available to companies and public sector, we contribute to growth and employment. We are providing suitable solutions for funded pension-schemes. We are promoting the financial education of investors.

In order to implement this mission statement in the ongoing business activities of the fund management companies, the investment fund industry has defined its own self-regulation standards by developing the BVI rules of conduct. These rules are taking account of the role as trustee, which requires a high standard of conduct towards investors.

We want to receive long term investment success

Our success is the success of our investors. Not only convincing return, but also risk diversification and liquidity are very important. We are supporting investor-friendly advice by providing clear and comprehensive information on opportunities, risks and costs.

Fund management companies are aware of their social responsibility. They are a separate pillar of the financial sector and are acting in the sole interest of investors, equally and independently of banks and insurance companies. They are managing a huge part of the retirement capital which is invested in retail and special funds. Therefore, fund management companies play a key role in pension provision in Germany. They provide companies with capital for growth and, as buyers of bonds, they are financing public budgets. They create jobs and actively participate in educational initiatives. They participate in the overall social discourse on responsible investment.

Fund management companies manage the funds entrusted to them in accordance with strict legal requirements. They act solely in the interest of investors and observe the integrity of market, the principle of risk diversification and investment and risk limits when managing the funds. Internal control procedures (e.g. risk controlling, internal audit, compliance) are an integral part of proper business organisation. Fund management companies take arrangements to ensure that they invest the investors funds in accordance with the investment policy described in the sales documentation and the risk profile of the respective fund as well as in accordance with the applicable legal provisions.

In addition to their statutory obligations, fund management companies independently and appropriately take into account the self-regulatory principles and codes set out in the BVI code of conduct which is continuously amended. Fund management companies inform their investors in an appropriate way whether and to what extent they comply with the BVI code of conduct. They may deviate from the code of conduct. In this case, they are required to disclose this on a yearly basis and to justify such deviations (“comply or explain”). This allows the fund management companies to take into account flexible and company-specific needs, as well as investor and investment needs.

Our responsibility for the environment and society


Our responsibility for the environment and society

We are aware of our social responsibility as a company and fund service platform in managing the assets entrusted to us. Capital from private pension provision and company pension schemes account for a high proportion of mutual and special funds launched on our platform. As the market leader in master funds, we play a key role in company pension schemes and pension funds in Germany.

We are working at shaping our business activities to make them sustainable and valuable for the society in which we live and for our environment:

  • Society

    Social responsibility

    Since 2016, we have been supporting two Frankfurt projects  of the children's and youth organization "Die Arche e. V. " - both in their local initiatives in Frankfurt am Main through donations in kind and cash donations as well as through volunteer work by our employees in helping children from disadvantaged families with their homework.

    In addition, we offer a mentoring program  at our Cracow location and internships for pupils and students of the International School Krakow.

    Ethical responsibility

    We screen potential business relationships using an internal blacklist and the Controversial Weapons Monitor. With the help of this specialised database from ISS Governance , companies are identified that are involved in the production of cluster munitions in accordance with the UN Convention. Universal Investment has decided to exclude securities of these issuers from acquisition.

  • Environment

    Systematic servey structure

    One of our goals is to make the climate impact of our business operations measurable. To enable sustainable business operations, a climate strategy is being developed that avoids or reduces emissions as far as possible. Therefore, a Group-wide systematic survey structure for environmental indicators is being established.

    Public transportation

    With regard to mobility and transportation, we provide our employees with free job tickets so that they can travel to work by public transport in an environmentally friendly way. Employees required to go on business trips are also given train cards and are encouraged by the relevant regulations to use trains rather than planes for their journeys.

    Ecological building standards

    The Universal Investment Group purposefully chose the ibc building complex  at Theodor-Heuss-Allee 70 as its Frankfurt headquarters in 2014, a property that meets the internationally recognized LEED Gold Standard. The standards of this certification process guarantee a climate-friendly workplace in every respect. In 2018 the LEED Gold Standard was reconfirmed.

    Purchasing process

    We will also continue to integrate sustainability into our purchasing process and make enquiries with our business partners. Our aim is to create a sustainable value chain, being aware of its responsibility and disclose it transparently.

Our responsibility for employees

The struggle for the best specialists and demographic change are just a few of the issues that also concern us as a company. In times in which corporate success increasingly depends on the availability, competence and commitment of employees, it is becoming increasingly important to attract, retain and develop them.

In doing so, the Universal Investment Group relies on a corporate culture of responsibility and autonomy. This includes the promotion of equal rights and diversity as well as support for the compatibility of family and career, for example through the participation in childcare costs or close cooperation with pme Familienservice  in the areas of childcare, homecare eldercare or coaching in life situations.

In addition, by involving our colleagues in our employee development programme, we help them to realise their professional and personal potential.

Contact

For further information, please contact the ESG office at sustainability@universal-investment.com.
Robert Bluhm

Robert Bluhm

Sustainability Officer

sustainability@universal-investment.com

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