Responsible business

Responsible partner

We strive to be a trusted partner to our clients​.

The essence of our business is our ability to empower the investment success of our clients; this is captured in our brand promise ‘Your success. Our priority.’ We strive to provide our clients with value for money and a level of service that meets or exceeds their expectations. 

There are three core things we do that are crucial for all clients:

  • Act in line with our values of Client Focus, Excellence, Integrity and Respect
  • Provide sustained excellent risk-adjusted investment performance, net of fees
  • Ensure we maintain the infrastructure to support our clients, protect their assets and provide an excellent level of service, including administration, oversight, client transactions, information and performance analysis and reporting.

Our management structure and governance ensure we have a rigorous, efficient and effective operating model and are able to protect the interests of our clients and end-customers (the ultimate beneficiaries of the funds we manage). They also support effective engagement and challenge at all levels of the business and promote a strong culture.

In EMEA, our key senior management and decision making forums are the Business Management Committee (BMC) and the Risk and Controls Committee (RCC). The BMC and RCC ensure all affairs of the business are cohesively managed and client interests and potential financial implications are considered by our most senior leaders. A series of cross-functional Advisory Groups facilitate engagement, ensure advocacy and support cross-functional decision making at all levels. These include the Diversity and Inclusion Group, Environmental Advisory Group, Product Advisory Group, Talent Advisory Group and Culture and Conduct Advisory Group. The role of the Culture and Conduct Advisory Group includes ensuring that the organisation upholds its focus on appropriate employee behaviour relating to the client and customer, risk, conduct risk and our Values-led culture.

Delivering value for our customers

In April 2021 we published our second Value Assessment Report, providing an in-depth assessment of the value provided by the funds in our UK range, according to seven criteria set by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The report covers 57 funds and 440 share classes and finds that overall, Columbia Threadneedle’s UK fund range provides Good value. The report uses a robust, consistent and repeatable methodology and process that enables year-on-year comparisons. Carried out and approved by Columbia Threadneedle’s UK Funds Board, it also benefits from objective and independent challenge provided by two independent board members.

We believe that value assessment reporting helps ensure improvements across our industry, including clearer and more specific fund objectives and targets, greater focus on performance after fees and improved transparency regarding costs and charges, all of which will enable customers and their advisers to better measure and compare outcomes across funds and asset managers.

Our 2020 Value Assessment report showed strong value enhancements for customers following the completion of several initiatives identified in 2019. Of our funds, 75% were assessed to have provided good to outstanding value in 2020, compared to 51% in 2019. None offered poor value. We also consider our costs of services to be reasonable and of good value.

Furthermore, in the 2020 report we included additional reporting on Income and Responsible Investment, areas where we believe our customers want greater transparency. The new Income section assesses how relevant funds met their dual income and long-term growth objectives. New reporting on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors helps investors understand how their investment choices impact the world around them.

Remedies

We note that many remedies and improvements were implemented in 2020. These included:
  • Subsidies on share classes of seven funds.
  • Reduced Registrar Fees on 26 share classes.
  • Reduced Annual Management Charges on 55 share classes.
  • The conversion of around 30,000 direct customer shareholdings into cheaper share classes.
  • Clearer investment objectives, performance benchmarks and targets on five Managed Funds to provide more accountability.
Further remedies are in the process of being implemented or will be implemented in 2021, on a number of the funds, including:
  • Reduced Registrar Fees on four share classes.
  • Reduced Annual Management Charges on three share classes.
  • The conversion of over 29,000 broker/advised customer shareholdings into cheaper share classes.
  • Clearer investment objectives, performance benchmark and target on the Managed Equity Income Fund.
Source: 2020 Value Assessment Report, Page 6

Product innovation and positive impact

Investors increasingly want to address sustainability through their investment choices. We offer clients a dedicated range of responsible investment (RI) strategies which celebrated some important milestones during 2020/21.
  • Our Social Bond Fund strategies (UK, Europe, Global and the US) passed the $1 billion mark in assets under management. These strategies match investor capital to projects with a defined positive social outcome in sectors such as affordable housing, health and welfare, education and training, employment and community. On behalf of our clients, we also invested in social bond issuance specifically targeted to support the Covid-19 pandemic response.
  • In May 2021 we added two new sustainable equity strategies, the Columbia Threadneedle Sustainable Outcomes Global Equity and Sustainable Outcomes Pan-European Equity strategies, investing in high-quality companies targeting positive sustainable outcomes and strong financial returns.
  • In 2020, our European Sustainable Infrastructure strategy, Europe’s first evergreen infrastructure offering, took a majority stake in Lefdal Mine Datacenter (LMD), a unique ‘green’ data centre in an underground olivine mine in Norway that uses cold sea water for cooling and renewable energy to power its operations.
  • Our Carbon Neutral Real Estate strategy (CNRE) celebrated its 10th year in 2020. The strategy is a partnership with real estate developer Stanhope and the Carbon Trust, a leading adviser to businesses, governments and the public sector on carbon reduction. It identifies suitable office buildings for refurbishment and turns them into modern, energy-efficient workplaces, while at the same time generating returns for investors.

The Big Exchange

Columbia Threadneedle worked with The Big Issue and a group of peer investment industry firms to develop The Big Exchange, a pioneering social and environmental mobile-first investment platform that launched in October 2020.
The Big Exchange has a mission “to make everyone’s money count for more” by delivering social and environmental investment funds to a retail audience.
The platform brings together fund managers, global impact-investing and finance experts, corporates, and social enterprises who recognise the need to drive change. It summarises the positive impact an investment fund has towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals through a gold, silver or bronze rating and provides educational content to help customers make better informed investment decisions.

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Conflicts of interest