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Active, sustainable, research: these are the three keywords that have been defining DPAM for some years now and will remain our mantra for the years to come. 2021 has been a pivotal year, in many respects, both for the industry as a whole and for DPAM (and myself) more specifically.
For the industry, first, in the slipstream of COVID19, the trend towards sustainability has gained momentum with EU-taxonomy and SFDR (sustainable finance disclosure regulation) regulation as drivers.
In two words, SFDR obliges financial market participants as from March 2021 to disclose how and to what extent they are committed to sustainable investments. It has boosted awareness across the financial industry and institutional clients. For asset owners and asset managers integration of sustainable factors and overall risk disclosures is impacting investment processes. A major shift is occurring. A growing number of financial participants that were not considering ‘sustainability’ so far, are repositioning their financial products. The urge to comply with SFDR article 8 (including environmental & social characteristics) or article 9 (having environmental and social measurable impact as an objective) is increasing.
The COP26 that just finished has been met with many criticisms. Pledges have no hard result commitments. However, climate finance ambitions are for real. The investing community took center stage when Mark Carney announced the GFANZ (Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero) gathering climate commitments from asset owners representing about 110 trillion EUR of financial assets. This COP26 and for sure future COP’s are and will be impacting and guiding DPAM’s climate and investment strategy. We consider it our fiduciary and societal duty to do so.
2021 has also delivered change and celebration for DPAM. First, we are proud to celebrate this year our pioneering role with 20 years of dedication to responsible investments, with an A+ PRI rating for four years in a row and for the 4th year a top ten position in the (previously European) now global H&K Responsible Investment Brand Index 2021. Our deepening ESG adoption allows us to develop what we call a ‘virtuous circle of continuous improvement’. DPAM is transforming from a mere provider of sustainable investments into a sustainable corporate actor, investor and partner for our clients and stakeholders. DPAM stands by this societal objective. DPAM has a dedicated responsible investment competence center (RICC) next to specific governance bodies that monitor our sustainability approach and give direction across investment strategies.
Our competitive edge is in the combination: we approach sustainability not only in a quantitative way, but also qualitatively. We thrive on the conviction that actively managed, sustainable research-based client solutions or portfolios offer the best opportunities for superior long-term investment result. We have as objective to deliver double alpha by combining financial objectives with sustainability objectives and ambitions.
Regarding the latter, and in the context of COP26, financial institutions are increasingly questioned about the Paris-alignment of their investment portfolios and net zero ambitions. Regarding the climate-related risk integration, DPAM’s latest TCFD report provides already insights on the governance, risk management and strategic approach, including the consideration of Paris alignment of our investees for carbon intensive sectors. DPAM however has stronger ambitions in terms of net zero target setting. Under my supervision and impulse, an assessment trajectory has been initiated by our TCFD Steering Committee to evaluate the impact of zero-targeting on investment decisions and universe. Prior to taking firm commitments, a broad range of feasibility studies is ongoing, and the outcome of the full exercise is expected in the first quarter of 2022. The results will be part of our TCFD 2022 report and confirm the DPAM ambitions in addressing climate change challenges.
Second, 2021 also brings a new chapter in the history of DPAM. End of October Hugo Lasat, CEO of DPAM since 2015, has been confirmed as the new CEO of our parent company Degroof Petercam. I was honoured when I was asked to follow in the footsteps of Hugo, under whose leadership DPAM has been able to become a strong and successful brand within the pan-European Asset Management universe.
My mission moving forward is simple: bring DPAM to the next level and address with confidence and conviction the investment, regulatory and technological challenges of tomorrow.
To remain relevant, we will continue to foster innovation from within, as we have always done, i.e. based on the creativity of the colleagues and the teamwork at DPAM.
For 2022, my main workyards are:
Raise DPAM’s efficiency and scalability by reinforcing our technology platform. Improvements on our internal client data platform will connect with the roll-out of innovative digital external client solutions.
Achieve consistent and robust investment performances across our DPAM range of solutions. Our AuM growth and footprint should take us well beyond the €50bn gross AUM milestone over 2022.
Accelerate our success in managing bespoke investment mandates across Belgian and international asset owners. Initiate business development in Asia through or Hong-Kong based Syncicap Asset Management joint venture. Achieve lower churn in wholesale distribution.
Having been an investment professional myself throughout my career, I hope to be able to inspire DPAM teams around me with my passion for investment management and all it encompasses. I will put all the knowledge and expertise gathered over the years, at the service of DPAM.
I have been raised with values such as integrity, honesty, authenticity, and curiosity.
I am curious but also confident about what the future will bring.