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Grand Canadian ESG Championship | Two Montreal firms stand out

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Montreal-based asset management firms Jarislowsky Fraser and AlphaFixe Capital are among the seven winning firms of the Grand Canadian ESG Championship to share a prize pool of $104.5 million in asset management mandates focused on environmental standards , society and governance (ESG) in terms of responsible investment.

Launched in March by nine Canadian institutional investors with a social and philanthropic purpose, the Grand Canadian ESG Championship aimed to meet the growing demand for responsible investment opportunities based on two main objectives.

The first was to raise awareness of asset managers in Canada who stand out in responsible investing and ESG so that they can inspire others.

The second was to provide asset managers and large investors with benchmarks to drive their ESG investing activities.

60 candidates

From an initial field of 60 nominees, the seven winning asset management firms were awarded based on the financial performance and ESG compliance of their funds and investments. Their ranking was also based on the alignment of their asset management strategy with the investment priorities and ESG objectives of each of the nine institutional investors behind the Grand Canadian ESG Championship.

Among the seven winning firms, the Montreal investment management company AlphaFixe Capital obtained the largest management mandate, up to 38 million out of the 104.5 million awarded in total.

It was another Montreal firm, Jarislowsky Fraser, a subsidiary of Scotiabank, which obtained the second largest mandate, worth 25 million.

Of the nine institutional investors involved in the Grand Canadian ESG Championship, four are based in Montreal: the Trottier Family Foundation, the Concordia University Foundation, the Greater Montreal Foundation and the McConnell Foundation.

According to Éric St-Pierre, Executive Director of the Trottier Family Foundation and main organizer of the Grand Canadian ESG Championship, this competition aimed to “highlight best practices in order to increase the competitiveness of asset managers and identify the gaps to be filled within the industry”.

Ultimately, according to Mr. St-Pierre, the Grand Canadian ESG Championship demonstrated that “the Canadian responsible investment sector is quite mature, while we had to choose among several excellent proposals”.

Lack of clarity deplored

On the other hand, notes Éric St-Pierre, the course of the championship demonstrated that “the lack of clarity regarding the labeling and definition of ESG standards always complicates the task of investors”.

In this regard, moreover, in a report on the state of the situation in Canada prepared by the Montreal-based analysis consulting firm Millani, which specializes in ESG evaluation and collaborates with the Canadian championship, we note “the need for clear communication from asset managers and the establishment of comprehensive standards from financial regulators so that the industry [de la gestion d’actifs au Canada] can maintain a solid base and remain competitive in the face of rapidly changing international competition in the ESG field”.

According to Milla Craig, Founder and CEO of Millani, “It has become evident throughout the Canadian championship that some asset management firms are integrating ESG into all of their activities. But other firms have a disconnect between how funds [d’investissement] were designed and how they are marketed.

In the opinion of Andrea Moffat, vice-president of the Ivey Foundation and member of the ESG Canadian Grand Championship judging panel, “while there is no right or wrong approach” when it comes to ESG strategy, “ there is a need to communicate more concisely about companies’ ESG policies and how they are integrated into their investments”.

“ESG investing has many nuances, and we can’t just make general recommendations,” adds Ms.me Moffat.

“Helping investment firms succeed requires more engagement and better collaboration between government, regulators and investors — especially around standardized ESG designations and classification. »



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