Sustainable Products and Services
We invest in quality companies with sustainable franchises and attractive growth prospects that are managed responsibly and provide sustainable products and services.
For us, sustainable products and services are those that generate measureable social or environmental benefits alongside financial returns, creating long-term value for shareholders and society at large.
Given the mainstay of our investments are in financial services, we believe we represent a positive force in society by providing our customers with affordable and accessible life and health insurance, retirement savings programs, and a suite of investment products, including socially responsible investment funds. Our group’s 13,900 financial consultants and advisors are also contributing to financial literacy by providing financial advice and guidance to our clients. These services are helping to make a real difference for a broad spectrum of society in all age and income groups – including those with lower incomes.
We are also helping finance sustainable and renewable energy projects, through our subsidiaries Power Energy and Great-West Life. These types of investments are supporting the transition to a low carbon economy, while positively impacting society and the environment.
Highlights from our Group Companies
AFFORDABLE AND ACCESSIBLE FINANCIAL SERVICES
Great-West Lifeco continues to innovate regarding its products and services to provide access to finance for a broad range of underserved markets, including younger people, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as the growing retired population. Recent innovations include a savings plan for SMEs, product solutions for workers who do not have registered retirement savings plans, financial security products for younger customers and ensuring its more than 27,000 advisors, brokers and consultants are available in hundreds of rural and urban communities across Canada. Their local services approach enables Great-West Lifeco to tap into local talent and keep in touch with local markets and needs. In 2016, Great-West Life also invested more than $100 million in independent finance companies that act as alternative funding sources for small to medium-sized Canadian businesses.
Great-West Life is also committed to meeting the needs of all of our customers, and strives to provide their products and services in a way that respects the dignity and independence of people with disabilities. As such, all Great-West Life employees across Canada are required to participate in accessibility training, and accessibility training is part of the orientation process for new employees.
IGM Financial is leading initiatives to ensure ongoing access to valuable financial planning and advice for Canadians from all age groups and income levels. Their mutual funds are available at very low investment minimums, making it possible to provide much-needed access to financial products and services to all households, regardless of income or wealth levels.
SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT FUNDS
GLC Asset Management Group, a subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco, has had socially responsible investment mandates for more than 15 years, providing clients with a meaningful way to ensure their investments promote a high level of environmental sustainability, social responsibility and corporate governance. Individual, group and institutional clients benefit from professional portfolio management services as well as screening and review processes for socially responsible investing.
Through its operating companies, IGM Financial has a suite of socially responsible products and services to meet the evolving needs of its clients, including the Investors Group Summa SRI™ Fund, charitable giving funds, Registered Disability Savings Plans and retail mutual funds in Canada that abide by the United-Nations supported Principles for Responsible Investment.
Investors Group and Mackenzie Investments have continued to be market leaders in offering Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSP) for clients or family members with disabilities, providing them access to a tax-preferred savings vehicle and at the same time take advantage of generous government grants and bonds. The RDSP program, in conjunction with their products and services, enables them to help Canadians in a meaningful way. In 2016, assets under management within the RDSP grew significantly to over $480 million.
SUSTAINABLE PROPERTY MANAGEMENT SERVICES
GWL Realty Advisors, a wholly owned subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco, manages a multi-client portfolio of nearly 300 office, multi-residential, light industrial and retail properties in Canada, including the corporate campuses of Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life. Sustainability principles are integrated into the management of these properties. In 2016, GWL Realty Advisors has achieved a “Green Star” ranking from the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) survey for a second consecutive year, placing second overall in Canada among private real estate management firms. GWL Realty Advisors improved its position from the top 15% of 707 global participants in 2015 to the top 10% of 759 global participants in 2016. The company also scored well above the global average and the average for its North American peer group in each of the assessed categories.
In 2016, 10.9 million square feet of GWL Realty Advisors’ managed portfolio was LEED-certified, and 96% of their eligible portfolio was either BOMA BEST® certified or actively pursuing certification.
Irish Life Investment Managers have also integrated sustainability into their property funds. Their focus is to ensure property environmental impacts are managed effectively and environmental building efficiencies are optimized.
SUSTAINABLE AND RENEWABLE ENERGY INVESTMENTS
Power Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of Power Corporation, invests in, and develops, sustainable and renewable energy companies that are enabling the transition to a low carbon economy. Power Energy conducts operations through three companies:
Potentia Renewables – a renewable energy generation company, active in the solar and wind sector in North America and the Caribbean.
Lumenpulse – a leading manufacturer of high-performance, specification-grade LED lighting solutions.
Eagle Creek – an owner and operator of 75 hydroelectric facilities that produce over 814 million kilowatt-hours of clean electricity annually in the United States.
In 2016, Great-West Lifeco’s Canadian public bond and private debt groups invested more than $1.6 billion in infrastructure, including investments in green energy projects, airports, port terminals, hospitals, transit, highways, utilities, schools and universities. A total of $400 million investment was invested in green energy projects included investments in solar, wind and hydro energy projects.
IGM Financial provides mortgages for energy-efficient homes and renovations that are eligible for mortgage insurance premium savings.
The online version of La Presse, LaPresse.ca, has a dedicated section on the environment which addresses corporate social responsibility issues covering economic, environmental, social and governance topics.