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 measurable social or environmental benefits alongside financial returns, creating long-term value for shareholders and society at large.
Given the mainstay of our investments is 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 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 Sustainable and Great-West Lifeco. 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. The company is also investing in new technologies to allow its customers to connect with them when, where and how they choose, and is developing innovative solutions and leveraging technology such as automation, digital interfaces, artificial intelligence and robotics to enhance customer reach, access and transparency, and meet the evolving needs of diverse markets.
In 2020, Canada Life, a subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco, became the first insurer in Canada to make virtual health care a standard benefit for all its group health plans with up to 400 plan members. Through Dialogue’s Consult+ virtual health service, plan members and their dependants can access qualified medical professionals for non-urgent health conditions, medical advice, prescriptions and more. Moreover, in December 2021, Dialogue’s Internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT) was made available to all Consult+ users in Canada. Through Dialogue’s iCBT, plan members can access self-led mental health support for mild to moderate depression and anxiety where and when they need it.
Canada Life provided financial support to small businesses to help them address their needs during COVID-19. The company launched its Business Boost program in 2020 and announced the winners in February 2021. More than 4,000 nominations were received and from those, 12 small businesses received a one-time grant of $10,000.
As an extension of IGM Financial’s day-to-day work of helping clients with their financial goals, the company is committed to improving the financial confidence of Canadians who need it the most, knowing that providing people with the knowledge and resources they need to understand their personal finances will help them build a better financial future for themselves, and in turn improve other aspects of their lives. Across its group companies, IGM Financial helps build financial confidence by sharing expertise and relevant news, tools and resources with financial advisors, clients and communities.
Through our subsidiaries, we also invest in Wealthsimple, a new kind of financial company that allows Canadians to invest, trade, save, spend, and even do taxes in a low-cost, transparent, and simpler way. Wealthsimple believes that everyone should have access to the tools they need to make smarter financial choices. The company invests users’ money in a globally diversified portfolio of low-cost index funds, and their cutting-edge technology helps them earn the best possible return, while optimizing their tax bill. These investment management services include automatic rebalancing, dividend reinvesting, and tax loss harvesting — services most people could not afford or that they found too time-consuming and tedious to do on their own.
SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT FUNDS
As a way to present investors with relevant investment options enabling them to match their own priorities, Putnam Investments – a Great-West Lifeco subsidiary – offers two mutual funds with a dedicated sustainability focus: the Putnam Sustainable Future Fund and the Putnam Sustainable Leaders Fund. The Sustainable Future portfolio invests in companies whose products and services provide solutions to essential sustainability challenges, while the Sustainable Leaders portfolio invests in companies that have demonstrated leadership in the sustainability issues that are financially material to their businesses. Combined assets of these two funds were approximately $7.5 billion as of March 31, 2022, making Putnam Investments one of the ten largest managers of dedicated sustainable equity assets in the United States. In May 2021, Putnam Investments launched its first actively managed exchange traded funds (ETFs), based on their leading equity strategies. These include the Putnam Sustainable Leaders ETF and the Putnam Sustainable Future ETF. Moreover, in June 2022, the company announced it would bring three active fixed income and two active quantitative equity ETFs to the market, all with an environmental, social and governance focus.
Through its operating companies, IGM Financial has a suite of socially-responsible products and services to meet the evolving needs of its clients. The IG Mackenzie Betterworld SRI Fund, formerly known as the IG Mackenzie Summa SRI™ Fund, was renamed in March 2022 and follows a sustainable investment approach, prioritizing ESG factors by leveraging sustainable approaches such as excluding certain industries, best-in-class ESG and ESG stewardship. In addition, the Fund does not invest in companies whose revenues are primarily derived from alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, gambling, pornography or critical weapons systems. Environmental stewardship and advocacy are a key part of the new portfolio management team’s investment process, which supports the transition away from fossil fuels and toward green energy and clean technology. In the team’s view, investors are paying increasing attention to how companies address issues of diversity, equity and reconciliation within their employee bases, products and services. The team maintains a focus on the themes of gender and racial diversity, feeding the future, human rights in the supply chain and climate action.
Moreover, IGM Financial also offers charitable giving funds, Registered Disability Savings Plans and retail mutual funds in Canada that abide by the United-Nations supported Principles for Responsible Investment. For instance, IG Wealth Management 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.
Mackenzie Investments also offers investment funds that prioritize sustainability or ESG in the investment objective. These funds include:
The Mackenzie Global Sustainable Bond Fund and ETF Combines ESG-labelled debt with issuers that exhibit strong ESG characteristics with the aim of providing greater diversification for investor portfolios.
The Mackenzie Global Women’s Leadership Fund and ETF are broadly diversified funds that invest only in companies committed to gender diversity and women in leadership.
The Mackenzie Greenchip Global Environmental Equity Fund holds stocks and bonds focused on the environmental economy.
For its part, Investment Planning Counsel, another IGM Financial subsidiary, has its dedicated ESG portfolio, the IPC Essentials ESG Balanced Portfolio, which is designed to provide long-term capital appreciation by primarily investing in equity and fixed income ETFs that have an environmental, social and governance focus.
Wealthsimple offers SRI portfolios designed using ETFs that are carefully screened for environmental and social impact, while remaining as diversified as possible to maximize performance. Wealthsimple’s responsible ETFs discount problematic industries, eliminate the top 25 per cent carbon-emitters in each industry (so their funds have a lower carbon footprint without compromising diversification), and each company in their fund has 25 per cent, or at least three, women on their board of directors.
In 2021, Wealthsimple and Mackenzie Investments partnered to launch Canada’s first Shariah-compliant ETF, named the Wealthsimple Shariah World Equity Index ETF. The Index, which provides investment options that honour and reflect the values of investors across Canada, is comprised of equity securities in developed markets which are Shariah-compliant, and companies included do not generally derive their income from the following industries: alcohol, tobacco, pork-related products, weapons and defense, conventional banking, conventional insurance companies and adult entertainment including hotels, casinos, and cinema. This was followed by the announcement in 2022 that both companies also partnered to launch a new Sustainable Investment ETF, the Wealthsimple North American Green Bond Index ETF. This ETF will seek to invest in issuers of green bonds that promote climate or other environmentally sustainable initiatives such as renewable energy, pollution prevention and climate change adaptation, or in social bonds that are devoted to financing projects that address social issues such as poverty, food security and socioeconomic advancement.
SUSTAINABLE PROPERTY MANAGEMENT SERVICES
GWL Realty Advisors, a wholly owned subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco, manages corporate office properties and more than 300 additional Canadian properties. All of Canada Life’s main corporate offices participate in GWL Realty Advisors’ Sustainability Benchmarking and Conservation Program (SBCP), setting reduction targets for energy, water and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Since the program was initially introduced in 2013, the company reported that it has reduced GHG emissions intensity by 32 per cent, energy intensity by 19 per cent, water intensity by 26 per cent, and waste to landfill by 18 per cent.
In 2021, GWL Realty Advisors was again recognized by the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) for its leadership in sustainability. The company earned its seventh consecutive ‘Green Star’ and its fifth consecutive ‘5 Star’ rating and placed in the top 8 per cent in the global ‘Diversified/Non-Listed/Core’ category. The Canadian Real Estate Investment Fund No. 1 made its fourth GRESB submission, earning a ‘5 Star’ rating and placing among the top 11 per cent of participants globally in the ‘Diversified/Non-listed/Core’ category.
Moreover, at the end of 2021, 86 per cent of GWL Realty Advisors’ eligible portfolio by floor area attained green building certifications, such as BOMA BEST or LEED. As part of the SBCP, GWL Realty Advisors launched the Building Owners and Managers Associations (BOMA) BEST ‘Going for Gold’ challenge, where all office properties are challenged to achieve a minimum BOMA BEST ‘Gold’ certification by 2023. All of Canada Life’s main office properties have now reached this milestone, and more than 95 per cent of GWL Realty Advisors’ office properties are participating in the challenge. BOMA Canada, at their National Awards Gala, honoured Canada Life’s 330 University Ave. and 190 Simcoe St. with The Outstanding Building of the Year (TOBY®) awards in the ‘Historical Building’ and ‘Corporate Facility’ categories, respectively. Additionally, GWL Realty Advisors’ Dynamic Funds Tower took home a national TOBY in the 500,000 to one million sq. ft category. The TOBY award recognizes excellence in building management and all facets of operations, including community involvement, sustainability, and environmental management.
SUSTAINABLE AND RENEWABLE ENERGY INVESTMENTS
Power Sustainable, one of Power Corporation’s alternative asset investment platforms, is a sustainability-led global alternative asset manager that aims to create long-term value by actively investing in entrepreneurial management teams, companies and projects with sustainable business models. Through its Power Sustainable Energy Infrastructure (PSEI) platform, it actively invests in the development, construction, financing and operation of renewable energy infrastructure assets across North America. PSEI applies Power Corporation’s principles of collaboration and building trusting relationships in industries that benefit from the global energy transformation.
The following are PSEI’s wholly owned operating companies:
Potentia Renewables – a renewable energy generation company that is a fully integrated developer, operator and manager of solar and wind energy assets, active in North America.
Nautilus Solar – a U.S based company that acquires, develops, finances and manages distributed solar projects across community, municipal/utility-scale, commercial and industrial markets.
In addition, Power Sustainable also has equity investments in the following businesses:
LMPG – an internationally recognized designer, developer, and manufacturer of a wide range of high-performance and sustainable specification-grade LED solutions for commercial, institutional, and urban environments.
Lion Electric – an innovative manufacturer of zero-emission vehicles that creates, designs and manufactures all-electric class 5 to class 8 commercial urban trucks and all-electric buses and minibuses for the school, paratransit and mass transit segments.