BCI Releases 2022 ESG Annual Report
Victoria, British Columbia – Today, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI) released its 2022 ESG Annual Report. The publication provides key updates and insight into how we capture opportunities and manage risks associated with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in the best financial interests of our clients.
“BCI’s ESG leadership builds on more than two decades of intentional action,” says Jennifer Coulson, senior managing director & global head, ESG. “We have established deep expertise and support for integration across asset classes, while using our size and influence to drive tangible ESG improvements. We continue to raise our expectations for portfolio companies, investment partners, and other players in the capital markets.”
The 2022 ESG Annual Report demonstrates progress under the four components of our corporate-wide ESG Strategy: Integrate, Influence, Invest, and Insight. During the year, BCI published our updated Climate Action Plan, which affirms our commitment to use our influence to drive actions aligned with the global goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050; expanded ESG expertise and support across asset classes; leveraged ESG and climate change as a source of value creation; and continued to address material ESG factors through direct and collaborative engagement.
“Preserving and growing long-term value for our clients remains the driving force behind our ESG commitments and decisions, particularly as the complexity of the investment landscape grows,” says Gordon J. Fyfe, chief executive officer and chief investment officer. “Active asset managers are playing a critical role in advancing ESG objectives within an increasingly nuanced and fast-changing environment.”
Highlights from the report
- Completed 260 ESG reviews for investment opportunities and 38 ESG evaluations of external managers and partners across asset classes, leveraging proprietary and industry datasets and frameworks.
- QuadReal Property Group (QuadReal), a BCI-owned company that manages our real estate equity and debt programs, ranked first in the Americas and fourth globally for its Canadian portfolio of office, industrial, retail, and residential assets in the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) diversified category.
- Voted at 3,478 public company meetings and increased expectations on climate change disclosure and performance, diversity, and protection of shareholder rights in the 11th edition of our Proxy Voting Guidelines.
- Participated in public markets collaborative engagement initiatives targeting 2,294 companies on climate change, gender diversity, and sustainable finance.
- Responded to or participated in 11 ESG-related policy consultations, roundtables, and joint statements, including feedback on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed climate disclosure rule.
- Escalated our engagement with companies on key issues through shareholder proposals filed on climate risk disclosure and freedom of association.
- QuadReal committed to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 in alignment with BCI’s expectations for portfolio companies, building on its track record of emissions reduction initiatives.
- Pursued climate-related opportunities, including acquiring Reden Solar as our first direct investment in solar energy in our infrastructure & renewable resources program.
- Participated in 26 sustainable bond issuances valued at over $1.45 billion, increasing total historical participation to more than $4 billion; we expect this to grow to $5 billion by 2025.
- Supported the expansion of the Sustainable Development Investments (SDI) Asset Owner Platform, including increasing the number of companies assessed using the UN Sustainable Development Goals and adding new datasets for investors.
- Continued to build our ESG team and strengthen our corporate-wide approach, including appointing our first global head of ESG and adding dedicated ESG experts for private markets.
- Initiated a climate opportunity sector scan to complement, enrich, and validate our in-house and third-party research.
- Provided education and learning opportunities to BCI staff, clients, and board members on climate change, Indigenous reconciliation, human capital management, and other topics.
Aligned to the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations, BCI is now integrating our climate-related disclosures into our Corporate Annual Report alongside our financial reporting. Our TCFD report will be published in our 2022-2023 Corporate Annual Report in July 2023.
British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI) is amongst the largest institutional investors in Canada with C$211.1 billion under management, as of March 31, 2022. Based in Victoria, British Columbia, with offices in Vancouver, New York City, and London, U.K., BCI is invested in: fixed income and private debt; public and private equity; infrastructure and renewable resources; as well as real estate equity and real estate debt through our independently operated platform company QuadReal Property Group. With our global outlook, we seek investment opportunities that convert savings into productive capital that will meet our clients’ risk and return requirements over time. This compels us to integrate long-term ESG matters into all investment decisions and activities. BCI’s clients include pension plans representing over 715,000 plan members, insurance funds providing more than three million Autoplan insurance policies annually, benefits coverage to more than two million workers and 225,000 companies, and special purpose funds within British Columbia’s public sector. Founded in 1999, BCI is a statutory corporation created by the Public Sector Pension Plans Act.
Right after BCI released its 2022 ESG Annual Report, it filed for a shareholder proposal for climate-related disclosure at Imperial Oil:
Victoria, British Columbia – British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI) filed a shareholder proposal calling for Imperial Oil Limited (Imperial Oil) to increase disclosure on climate risk. This is the first climate-related shareholder proposal filed by a large Canadian public sector pension investment manager going to a vote at a Canadian company. BCI is the sole filer on the proposal, which will be presented at Imperial Oil’s annual general meeting on May 2, 2023.
“Disclosure of accounting assumptions related to climate change and the energy transition is a fast-emerging shareholder expectation,” says Jennifer Coulson, senior managing director & global head, ESG. “We require transparent accounting disclosure in financial statements to make informed investment decisions, including visibility over off-balance sheet liabilities, and Imperial Oil has not provided sufficient information.”
The proposal requests that Imperial Oil’s Board of Directors provide an audited report estimating the impacts of the International Energy Agency Net Zero by 2050 pathway on all asset retirement obligations by February 2024. Asset retirement obligations are the costs associated with the regulatory requirement to decommission assets at the end of their life. Companies account for certain future costs through financial statements, and we expect to have visibility of current off-balance sheet liabilities of assets with indefinite useful lives.
In addition to the shareholder proposal, BCI has voted against key directors at the upcoming meeting. These votes are based on our assessment that the company’s lack of risk oversight has led to major controversies related to tailings integrity and insufficient Indigenous engagement.
Taking action on climate change for more than 20 years, BCI has supported the Climate Action 100+ collaborative engagements with Imperial Oil and its majority shareholder Exxon Mobil Corporation (ExxonMobil) since 2017. BCI has co-filed a similar proposal at ExxonMobil. These actions reflect an escalation of our engagement efforts and align with the expectations and goals of Climate Action 100+.
More information is available on the Climate Action 100+ website.
Take the time to go over BCI's 2022 ESG Annual Report here.
Below, some highlights:
A message from BCI's Chair, Peter Milburn:
And a message from Gordon Fyfe, BCI's CEO:
Note this part:
We believe, as do our clients, that ESG matters make a difference and translate to meaningful distinctions in a company’s ability to generate long-term value for investors. As a result, we apply the same rigour and due diligence to evaluating ESG factors as we do traditional financial factors to maximize long-term performance. As an active asset manager, we use our influence, internal expertise, and governance rights to align interests with our stakeholders and pursue common ESG goals.
There's no doubt when done right (and I emphasize that), ESG matter makes a difference and translate to meaningful distinctions in a company’s ability to generate long-term value for investors.
But between you, me and the lamppost, most of Canada's large pension funds wish they didn't have to make such a big deal on ESG, preferring to focus exclusively on investments.
Their clients have been forcing them to focus on ESG and Canada's large pension funds are responding.
How do I know this? I know everything going on at these large pensions, there's a reason why I'm called Pension Pulse and it ain't because of my good looks.
Now, I would have loved to have gone over BCI's 2022 ESG Annual Report with Jennifer Coulson who was recently appointed their new Global Head of ESG as of March 1st.
Jennifer is one smart cookie and a huge asset at BCI.
Last Wednesday, I sent an email to Gordon Fyfe, David Morhart, Daniel Garant, Jim Pittman and Jennifer Coulson asking to interview her for this report.
I even told them it was my birthday and I was preparing for spine surgery on Friday.
Jim Pittman wished me luck but didn't hear back from Gordon and the rest.
My sources tell me Gordon was irritated when I explained why he left PSP in my comment going over IMCO and Maple Eight's dirty little secrets.
In particular, he didn't like the fact that I insinuated he got bumped from PSP and had to scramble to join BCI (he did want to go back to BC, that's true).
Again, I don't have anything against Gordon, was very tight with the guy and he was (mostly) good with me.
He's a good leader, knows how to rally the troops. His biggest asset is he knows how to connect with people (antithesis of Michael Sabia on that front), but his biggest weakness is he was too impressed with some people around him looking out for their own interest, not his.
Gordon often shared great stories about his mentor, Fiera Capital Jean-Guy Desjardins, to me, stories Jean-Guy probably forgot but I remember.
He told me that Jean-Guy made him "independently wealthy" before he took on the job at CDPQ which led to the top job at PSP.
I would often hear "Jean-Guy this and Jean-Guy that" but inside my head I was always thinking Jean-Guy is an entrepreneur, took on huge entrepreneurial risk to build TAL which he later sold to CIBC Asset Management.
I don't think Gordon and a lot of people who made money off Jean-Guy's success appreciated or truly understood the immense risks, stress and sweat equity that he took to build a successful national asset management firm based in Quebec.
And he's doing it all over again having taken over the helm at Fiera Capital again, slashing costs and preparing that shop for the nasty global recession I've been warning of.
It's coming, I know it, I can feel it and it's going to impact all assets, private and public because the depth and duration of this global recession will be unlike anything we've seen since the 70s & 80s.
There's another reason why I'm bringing up Jean-Guy Desjardins.
Gordon Fyfe used to live near me in Mont-Royal back when I was at PSP (a block away).
Right down the street from him lived another great Quebec entrepreneur, Johhny Svetna.
I met Johnny at a drug trial for progressive multiple sclerosis at Notre-Dame Hospital years ago.
He grew up here in Montreal, helped his father and mother run their Croatian bakery, and all he's done is work his tail off since the age of 14.
Johnny runs a huge business now, he and his team go all over Quebec and Canada to pick up used trucks which they fix up and sells to the United States.
When I say huge, it's huge, I've spent a day with him at the auctions and back at his offices and almost passed out from exhaustion.
And Johnny's progressive MS hasn't been kind to him, he has serious disabilities which affect his walking but he's like a race horse, nothing puts him down, he wakes up at the crack of dawn every day and works 18-hour days, six days a week.
He has three wonderful, healthy children which his wife (who he only calls "Five Star") has helped him raise (his brother-in-law is Alexandre Synnett, the former CTO of CDPQ who unfortunately took the fall for their failed investment in Celsius).
Anyway, I remember asking Johnny once: "You're a multi, multi millionaire with progressive MS, why the hell do you work like a donkey for, retire and go live on the beach in Croatia."
He replied: "I do all this for my kids," which is true but the truth is Johnny is a born entrepreneur, he loves the hustle and can't sit idly by."
I've met fabulously rich hedge fund managers, private equity managers but nothing impresses me in business than a hustler who knows how to run a business.
My uncle in Crete, John (Yianni) Lebidakis, who founded Plastika Kritis with my grandmother's brother is a hustler, an exceptional entrepreneur. When he talks business, I listen (and when I talk global economy, he listens).
I want to make a distinction between people like Johnny, Jean-Guy Desjardins and my uncle in Crete with people making millions at Canada's large pension funds managing billions of assets from captive clients.
Johnny often teased me: "You don't have the stamina to do this business, you need to be quick on your feet and put in long hours. You and your pension colleagues are pencil pushers."
He was right.
I also bring up this story because yesterday I had a conversation with a young lady who left BCI under difficult circumstances and it seems like they're badmouthing her to other large Canadian pension funds which they know is just plain wrong (and dumb!).
There's a reason why this blog is called "Pension Pulse" and is going on 15 years, I know a lot, the good, the bad and downright ugly at all of Canada's Maple Eight.
And I only write the truth and nothing but the truth and have made plenty of mistakes along the way.
It's easy taking risks with other people's money, try putting significant skin in the game.
Entrepreneurial risk, there's nothing like it!
So the next time someone asks you whether Canada's large pension CEOs & CIOs are making ridiculous sums of money, refer them to this blog because just like big bank CEOs, I'm telling you they are.
Johnny Svetna and Gordon Fyfe are both multi-millionaires except the former took on heavy entrepreneurial and health risk to gain his fortune.
I'm not taking anything away from Gordon's long and bright career, I'm just stating a fact.
What else? I'd like Canada's large pension funds to take a year to focus in recruiting people with disabilities.
I recently saw this great comment on living with disability in an uncaring world on how many forms of disability are invisible so be cognizant that just because people look fine, doesn’t mean they’re not struggling with their own personal challenges:
There are all kinds of people in this world. Some will help you along the way while others will attempt to push boulders in your path. Living with a disability is not always easy. I have met the rude, uncaring type who watch as I struggle to open a heavy door rather than stepping in to help and the ones that choose to give me the death stare as I pull into the disabled parking spot at the grocery store only to turn away (hopefully in shame) as soon as they see me wheel my way out of my van in a powerchair.
But some of my disability is not visible. Most isn’t. People don’t see my pain, cognitive problems, bladder and bowel issues, unrelenting fatigue, spasticity, numbness, and so the many other unseen multiple sclerosis issues I deal with. I have had people give me cures such as physical therapy classes, prayer, and positive thinking to fix me. All of these things have benefits, but they will not cure my disability.
I have difficulties getting ready in the morning. I often struggle to button things, even simple things. I use a button gadget to help out for shirts and pants if I’m wearing anything other than sweats and t-shirts. I also struggle to put on my socks, open jars and even easy-to-open packages. They can all be a challenge for me.
I’m thankful that I can still drive with a modified van for my powerchair so I can drive from my wheelchair, but even now I question my vision and slower response to traffic. I always take the back roads and navigate around busy areas because I don’t trust my own response time to sudden braking.
Everything is a response to how others are choosing to live around the disabled. It’s sad really, that we as a society have become such critical, judgmental, selfish and uncaring people. That the disabled are invisible in their eyes. It can be seen everywhere you turn.
So, how do you function as a person with a disability in a world that cares more for itself than others? What do you do when people are rude? Mean? Angry? Do you respond in the same way as them…rudeness for rudeness? Hate for hate? Anger for anger?
That seems like the easy way, doesn’t it? It’s easy to throw out a few hurtful words in response to someones mean-spirited actions or words. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.
How people act is not about you – it’s all about them. You can tell a lot about a person just by watching what they do, how they act, and what they say. But how you respond, that’s all you. Don’t let people’s wrongful, uncaring and bigoted actions cause you to stoop to their level. You are better than that. I know you don’t feel like it at times, but you are.
It takes all kinds of people to teach us how to become a person of character. Character is created through the struggles we face. It’s not something we are born with.
Today, if you are met with a challenge from someone’s rude and insensitive behavior, take a deep breath, allow your emotions to calm down, then respond as a person of character rather than being just like them. You be the bigger person…the better person. Show them, and yourself, that even though you have a disability, you are better than they are. You are greatness. You are more able-bodied than them.
Take the high road and leave them behind you in the dust of their own constructed chaos. Instead of wrestling with pigs, you’ll be soaring with eagles.
There's a lot of wisdom in that comment.
My father who is a 92-year-ol retired psychiatrist with over 50 years of clinical experience always told me: "Everyone is going through some hardship, some is physical, some is mental, often it's both."
So try to be a little forgiving and kind to people you work with when they piss you off, you don't know what they're going through.
As for Gordon Fyfe, he needs to be a lot more forgiving and kind to yours truly and take me out to lunch at Milos the next time he's in town. If he can spare a few hours to see Murph, he can do the same for me since we haven't seen each other since that summer day back in 2007.
Hell, bring Murph and Jean-Guy to Milos and I'll bring Fred Lecoq.
One final serious note, I'd much rather focus on BCI's ESG Annual Report, so the next time I ask to speak to Jennifer Coulson, you better make damn sure you facilitate my request.
And I do not want to read a message from Gordon or his buddy Peter Milburn in an ESG report, I want to read a lot more on what Jennifer Coulson has to say on these matters, after all, she's the expert:
Next time, please arrange a meeting with Jennifer and spare me with your bruised egos and why you're acting petty ignoring my requests.
Trust me, I've got better things to do with my time than cover BCI!
One last slide I liked, a Q&A with Jean-Christophe Lermusiaux, BCI's Managing Director, Global Emerging Markets:
Take the time to read BCI's 2022 Annual ESG Report here , it is excellent!
Below, an interview with Dr Violaine Harris - a senior research scientist at the Tisch MS Research Center in New York. Dr Harris discusses the novel stem cell therapy for multiple sclerosis that is being developed at Tisch, which had just finished a Phase I clinical trial and went on to a Phase II trial. She also explains how this is treatment is different to HSCT and how people with MS can help support their research.
Johnny recently did this stem cell treatment at the Tisch MS Research Center and it really helped him a lot (doubt he will ever retire).
Next, take the time to learn the 50-year story behind Plastika Kritis in Crete, one of the most successful plastics companies in Europe. The clip is narrated by my second cousin's eldest son, Nikos Koukas.
Also watch how the company recycles plastics in Crete and elsewhere it manufactures. If you want to see pioneers in ESG, watch this clip from start to finish.
When you meet some private equity hotshot, remind them of this clip and show them what a truly successful private company is all about (my uncle's eldest son Michael, went to INSEAD, just like Gordon).