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WHEB Asset Management

Social performance

WHEB is a specialist investor focused on the opportunities created by the global transition to more sustainable, resource efficient economies.

WHEB's mission statement and approach

WHEB's missions statement is "To advance sustainability and create prosperity through positive impact investments."

Long-term demographic, environmental and resource challenges are reshaping the global economy. While these challenges pose threats in many areas, they also create significant opportunities. These opportunities form the focus of WHEB's thematic investment approach.

Thematic exposure and strategy

Resource scarcity, ageing populations, urbanisation and rising living standards are shaping the global economy. It is WHEB's conviction that these trends will persist for many decades. WHEB invests in companies that provide solutions to the challenges posed by these trends. It organises these investments into five environmental and four social investment themes:

Environmental: Resource Efficiency; Water Management; Environmental Services; Sustainable Transport; Cleaner Energy

Social: Safety; Health; Well-being; Education

Each investment directly supports the achievement of one or more of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The positive impact comes through the products and services that these companies sell on the market. In total, the strategy directly supports seven of the SDGs.

Key Social Performance Indicators (KSPIs)

KSPIs are a measure of how the business is performing on delivering its main social or environmental purpose. Read more

KSPI 1 - positive impact of investment

The following table shows the impact the WHEB investment strategy was associated with during 2019:

Impact area impact measurement
Co2e (carbon dioxide equivalents) emissions avoided 320,000 tonnes
Renewable energy generated 300,000 MWh
Waste recovered or recycled 59,000 tons
Water cleaned and distributed for reuse 7.5 billion litres
Waste water treated 4 billion litres
Individuals receiving healthcare treatment 61,000 people
Healthcare costs saved £29m
Tertiary Education provided 71,000 days

WHEB has an impact website where it is possible to use an online impact calculator to see the impact of an individual investing in WHEB's investment strategy.

Data table source: WHEB Impact Report Jan 2019 - Dec 2019 


KPSI 2 - Engagement and Voting

WHEB engages with businesses, regulators and other actors to understand the market environment and to exert its influence. During 2019 WHEB engaged with 43 companies (representing 83% of the companies in the portfolio) on 112 occasions. Engagement is led by members of the investment team who follow demanding bespoke voting guidelines that have been developed by WHEB.

Compared to previous years, company engagement in 2019 focused much more on social issues such as board diversity representing 23% of engagement (2018: 6%) and environmental issues such as climate change representing 21% (2018: 5%). 

WHEB also records information on how successful it believes it has been with its engagement. Each engagement is categorised as either ‘successful’, ‘partially successful’ or ‘unsuccessful’. In 2019 they judged 21% of their engagements to have been successful, 49% as partially successful and 30% as unsuccessful. This represents an improvement in performance compared to 2018

Detailed case studies of WHEB’s engagement work with companies is available here. WHEB has observed that the number of companies that are willing to engage with them on any topic is increasing.  However, at the same time, they have also seen a lengthening list of individual engagement topics that companies refuse to engage on.

KPSI 3 - Transparency and reporting

WHEB is committed to transparency in relation to activity associated with the Fund. In support of this WHEB has pledged to:

WHEB has committed itself to the Eurosif Transparency code, only two other UK investment companies have done so.

WHEB's independent Investment Advisory Committee provides a layer of independent oversight of the Fund. The Committee challenges WHEB on its adherence to their mandate, process and investment philosophy, and the minutes of this meeting are published on WHEB’s website. This process is absent from much of the investment industry.

In addition WHEB is committed to reporting on the positive impact associated with the Fund's investments through the publication of an annual impact report and through providing access to an impact website.

Common environmental and social performance indicators (CEPIs & CSPIs)

CEPIs and CSPIs are environmental performance indicators that are common to all businesses, no matter what their main business activity is. Read more

As the Fund is purely a vehicle for managing investments the CEPIs and CSPIs are not individually shown. WHEB's strict business screening ensures that the organisations that are selected for investment clearly outperform others within their sectors on sustainability, and that comply with strict minimum standards.

Companies are screened against a wide range of criteria. And, both during and after the selection process, the research team engages with them, encouraging them to improve their business practices.

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