22 November 2011 – AXA Investment Managers has added to its carbon footprint metric with a series of other metrics such as corporate governance, social and water, as it prepares for what it says will be major growth in responsible investment, especially from Asia.

AXA IM said this week that investment funds directed into responsible investing strategies is set to triple over the coming three years with Asia playing a key role.

The firm recently appointed global head of RI, Matt Christensen, to further develop its RI capabilities.

Mr Christensen, who was previously founding executive director of European think tank on RI issues, Eurosif, will visit Australian institutional investors early next year,  said Australia’ s established $1.3 trillion superannuation funds sector would b a key driver for the Asia growth.

However, he said Australian institutions investing in Asia face a raft of new corporate governance challenges ­– in cultural, regulatory and transparency areas.

”Undoubtedly Asia represents a unique investment opportunity, but global investors should abandon the box-ticking approach based on the application of a single set of corporate governance rules, and instead encourage Asian companies to embrace the spirit of good principles of corporate governance as their companies and economies evolve,” Mr Christensen said.

He said key market drivers in the coming three years would be demand from institutional investors, along with international initiatives such as the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, external pressures from entities such as NGOs and unions, regulatory pressures, and demand from retail investors.

An AXA IM statement also said that the company’s six existing RI funds had received a stamp of approval from Deloitte after engaging the funds in an “in-depth external audit, to demonstrate the RI funds fully complied with the PRI as well as to raise the bar in global RI standards.”

Craig Hurt, Sydney-based director of AXA Investment Managers in Australia & New Zealand, said the lack of globally recognised and shared RI standards meant investors were not currently being offered full transparency around RI issues.

“Our Australian institutional clients – like their global counterparts – are concerned more than ever about investing in companies that have exemplary corporate governance and take into account social and environmental factors in the development of their activities,” Mr Hurt said.

He said AXA IM planned to launch a suite of new RI initiatives in 2012. Key developments would include deepening its internal research capability to assist with RI-related fund management decision making and enhanced value-added insights; a proactive engagement strategy to discuss specific ESG themes with companies in conjunction with milestones and goals; and developing ESG metrics to help AXA IM gain a more holistic view of ESG impacts.