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 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 the first-in-Canada flexible retirement savings program, which is aimed at helping graduates save for their retirement sooner while at the same time paying down student debt. Indigo became the first national employer in Canada to offer this program to their employees.
Great-West Lifeco 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. One notable innovation on that front is the piloting of a new, goals-based investing tool that advisors can use with their customers to help ensure investments align with the individual’s financial and lifestyle goals. Working with an advisor, clients will be able to benchmark and monitor the progress of their overall investment plan, specifically with regards to the targeted level of return and corresponding risk they need to be willing to accept, on average, to achieve their goals. A digital client portal will also be available, providing customers with easy-to-understand, real-time reporting on their portfolio’s performance and their progress towards their financial goals.
In 2018, Great-West Life gave employees access to healthcare professionals on the go through a pilot with a fully-bilingual virtual health care service called Dialogue. Dialogue allows employees to chat with healthcare professionals by text, phone or video, renew prescriptions for themselves and their family members, and be referred to see a specialist in person. Power Corporation also invests in Dialogue through Power Financial and Diagram.
Great-West Life is also a founding investor of the newly launched Canadian Business Growth Fund aimed at fostering innovation. Funded by Canada’s leading banks and insurance companies, the Fund will invest in Canadian entrepreneurs and provide businesses with the capital they need to grow domestically and globally. An advisory network has also been created to provide mentorship to help these businesses to achieve their full growth potential and write the next generation of Canadian business success stories.
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 gain a basic understanding of their personal finances will help them build a better financial future for themselves and their families. Through the daily work of financial advisors who serve its clients, the financial literacy presentations these advisors deliver in the community, and as partners in the creation of financial education programs and curricula, IGM Financial is a leader in the ongoing effort to advance the financial confidence and financial security of Canadians.
Wealthsimple, one of Canada’s largest online investment managers, in which we invest through our subsidiaries, provides advice and services that are accessible, affordable and human. Wealthsimple offers investment management services, including automatic rebalancing, dividend reinvesting and tax loss harvesting, that most people couldn’t afford until now or found too time-consuming and tedious to do on their own.
SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT FUNDS
GLC Asset Management Group (GLC), a subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco, has had socially responsible investment (SRI) mandates for close to 20 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. GLC considers ESG factors within all of investment decisions and portfolio strategies, not just SRI portfolios.
As a way to present investors with relevant investment options enabling them to match their own priorities, in 2018, Putnam Investments launched two new funds with dedicated ESG strategies. The Putnam Sustainable Future Fund invests in growth companies that directly demonstrate positive impact in social, environmental, or economic development while the Putnam Sustainable Leaders Fund invests in growth companies with the goal of delivering positive financial and ESG performance. Formed through the repositioning of two existing products, the offerings make Putnam one of the largest ESG managers in the industry, with nearly $5 billion in assets.
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 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.
Since 2017, Mackenzie Investments has also launched new funds designed to generate long-term competitive returns, while supporting positive environmental, social and governance change.
The Mackenzie Global Sustainability and Impact Balanced Fund provides Canadian investors with a solution that helps their investments have a positive environmental and social impact. The fund selects companies that are willing to engage in or have incorporated strategies to improve ESG practices.
The Mackenzie Global Leadership Impact Fund and Mackenzie Global Leadership Impact ETF provide an opportunity for investors to impact social and governance change through a focus on companies that promote gender diversity and the benefits of women in leadership.
The Mackenzie Global Environmental Equity Fund provides investors a product focused on opportunities in environmental sectors, notably in energy transition from fossil-fuels to renewable power.
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.
Wealthsimple offers SRI portfolios which have been designed using ETFs that prioritize low carbon emissions, advance cleantech innovation, and promote sustainable growth in emerging markets or gender diversity. Those ETFs are weighted according to environmental and social impact, as well as for performance.
SUSTAINABLE PROPERTY MANAGEMENT SERVICES
GWL Realty Advisors, a wholly owned subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco, manages a multi-client portfolio of over 350 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 2019, GWL Realty Advisors was recognized as a leader in sustainability by the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), earning a Green Star ranking for the fifth consecutive year as well as a third consecutive GRESB ‘5star’ rating. The GRESB Real Estate Assessment has placed GWL Realty Advisors among the top four per cent of participants in the Global Diversified category (of 230 submissions). In addition to being recognized as a leader in the field, its score increased 18 per cent from its first submission in 2015.
Throughout the year, GWL Realty Advisors continued to pursue its target of achieving green building certifications for all eligible properties. To date, 92 per cent of its eligible commercial portfolio by floor area is BOMA BEST® or LEED® certified, representing over 36 million square feet of its managed portfolio. In 2018, its parent company, Great-West Lifeco, marked a historic milestone, with all its Canadian corporate head offices being BOMA BEST® Gold certified.
GWL Realty Advisors was also recognized at both national and regional levels for its sustainability-focused property management practices. In 2018, five awards were presented to properties it manages, relating to sustainability, staff, and operational excellence. These awards include the BOMA Certificate of Excellence (5000 Yonge St., Toronto), CREST Race2Reduce Award (33 Yonge St., Toronto) and the Don Smith Commercial Building Award (London Life Head Office).
Irish Life Investment Managers believes that non-financial aspects of property create stable long-term investments for its clients and strengthen communities. This is reflected across a range of environmental, social and governance considerations through the acquisition, development, refurbishment, leasing and ongoing management of individual property assets. A key focus is the enhancement of environmental efficiencies through the design and specification of new builds and refurbishment, the selection of new properties and the future management of acquired properties.
SUSTAINABLE AND RENEWABLE ENERGY INVESTMENTS
Power Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of Power Corporation, is an investment holding company that creates long-term value by actively investing in companies driving change towards a more sustainable world. Power Energy has invested in companies that develop, own and operate solar, hydro and wind generating assets in North America as well as in leading manufacturers of sustainable technologies. Power Energy currently invests in the following companies:
Potentia Renewables – a renewable energy generation company, active in the solar and wind sector in North America and the Caribbean
Nautilus Solar Energy – a leading U.S. solar developer and asset manager focused on distributed and utility-scaled generation solar projects
Lumenpulse – a leading manufacturer of high-performance, specification-grade LED lighting solutions
Lion Electric – a manufacturer of zero-emission vehicles sold throughout North America
Responsible product management contributes to the development of sustainable business opportunities for Imerys. The technological know-how of Imerys enables the group to be in an excellent position to improve the yield on materials of its operations. At the same time, the strength of the group’s commercial network and strong innovation capacity maximize the group’s production value and capacity to optimize resource use efficiency across the globe, thereby contributing to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Imerys also constantly seeks to develop ways to create a more sustainable, greener value chain and still produce high-performance end product for customers. While recycling rates of industrial minerals are relatively high, the group is committed to continue to identify recycling opportunities and assess circular economy solutions, recognizing the global need to produce with less, for longer and smarter. In addition, Imerys’ commitment to sound mineral resources management, technological improvements and newly-developed applications makes it possible to transform low-grade materials, tailings and wastes into marketable resources.
Being committed to innovation of solutions at the service of a low-carbon economy, Imerys also supports customers in this transition. To this effect, Imerys is conducting studies of its products portfolio to determine their carbon footprint. These studies serve a dual purpose of providing complete and transparent information to customers and giving the group an improved visibility over the impacts linked to specific products or facilities, which is a precursor to initiating any eco-design approach. In 2018, Imerys calculated approximately 20 product carbon footprints, from cradle to gate. These study results were shared with customers to help encourage downstream efforts to calculate product impacts and differentiate Imerys products from other competitors’ higher carbon solutions. In addition, in 2018, Imerys conducted 14 product life cycle assessments.
Finally, an important complement to product sustainability is the development of sustainable technologies, which are essential to the long-term sustainability of Imerys. To support its internal efforts, Imerys has established a Scientific Advisory Board, whose role is to discuss technical advancements on specific topics with Imerys as well as to consider future technology needs and trends where the group may have a positive impact.