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Social responsibility is part of the philosophy of Erste Asset Management. Therefore we do not only see ourselves as responsible employer, but we attach great importance to the responsibility of our products and services. We, as company, dedicate ourselves to socially and environmentally responsible behaviour. Since 2001, we have included investment strategies in our range of products that comply with Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) criteria. With assets under management of EUR 4.46bn, we hold the biggest range and volume of responsible-ethical investments in Austria (as of 31 December 2016). In order to ensure that our solutions meet the high standards of our clients, we have set ourselves strict guidelines and cooperate with a number of well-renowned partners.

The Principles for Responsible Investing (PRI) of the United Nations form the basis of responsible investment at Erste Asset Management. As signatory of said PRI, Erste Asset Management undertakes to take into account the following six principles in its investment policy:

  • We will incorporate ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes.
  • We will be active owners and incorporate ESG issues into our ownership policies and practices.
  • We will seek appropriate disclosure on ESG issues by the entities in which we invest.
  • We will promote acceptance and implementation of the Principles within the investment industry.
  • We will work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the Principles.
  • We will report on our activities and progress towards implementing the Principles.

When selecting our cooperation partners we also make sure they have signed the PRI or at least follow them as much as possible.

ERSTE RESPONSIBLE RETURN – The ESG Letter on Environmental, Social and Governance Issues

In ERSTE RESPONSIBLE RETURN - The ESG Letter, CIO Gerold Permoser and the Responsible Investment team of Erste Asset Management discuss current questions and developments in the area of responsible investments.

Erste Asset Management refrains from investment in companies that operate in the area of banned weapons. Among those are:

  • Biological and chemical weapons
  • Cluster bombs, including possible launch and ejection systems
  • Anti-personnel mines, mine-planting systems, and other mine systems
  • Nuclear weapons
  • Uranium weapons

In addition, we monitor the development of new controversial weapons in cooperation with our external partners in order to potentially include them into our catalogue of criteria. Along with companies, we also exclude governments that have been sanctioned by the UN Security Council for infringement with international treaties on banned weapons.

We have committed to refrain from engaging in derivatives on food in all our investment funds and client portfolios. For our funds of funds and multi-assets mandates we will not invest in third-party funds that speculate in food.

As committed investor we try to engage in an active dialogue with the invested companies and governments within the framework of our responsibility process. We point at weak spots in the area of environmental, social, and governance criteria and then try to find a solution to improve on the status quo together with the company. Our engagement is not only a question of responsibility, but also contributes to minimising risks and can thus improve the long-term investment success of our clients. We engage with companies that the funds of the ERSTE-RESPONSIBLE family of funds invest in. In some cases we also contact companies that we are not invested in – after all, we also want to effect changes in companies that are not investable to us due to their shortcomings in the area of responsibility. We may exclude companies from our investment universe that persistently refuse to enter into a dialogue with us.

In our engagement process we follow four strategies:

  • Thematical engagement: we address ESG-relevant topics at regular intervals and report publicly on them. This way we not only ensure that our engagement remains focused, but we also increase the willingness of companies to enter into a dialogue with us. We frequently report on our topical engagement in our investment magazine ERSTE RESPONSIBLE RETURN - The ESG Letter
  • Austria engagement: as market leader in Austria we feel obliged to put a specific focus on domestic engagement activities. This is where we leverage our strong market position and reputation.
  • Engagement cooperation: we bundle our influence with other engaged investors in order to facilitate change. In doing so we often act as leader in responsibility networks such as PRI.
  • External engagement partners: we cooperate with a specialised partner, GES (Global Engagement Service). The agency bundles the capital of numerous investors who participate in order to be accepted as equal partner by the contacted company. GES is globally active and supports Erste Asset Management especially in developing countries.

Once a year we issue a detailed report on our engagement activities, together with GES.

Part of our engagement as investor is the concept of “active ownership”, i.e. the active exercising of our voting rights at the general annual meetings of companies that we are invested in. In order to ensure transparency and consistency of our voting, we have compiled a detailed guideline and frequently and publicly report on our voting behaviour on our voting portal.

Sustainability, or responsibility, means being aware of one‘s actions and their consequences and approaching them in such a way as to avoid damage to others. Or, in other words, the decisions of today’s generation should not tie the hands of future generations. Or – to use yet another metaphor – behaving sustainably means acting like a farmer who takes best possible care of a tree and harvests its fruits without felling it. Th is way, we can expect a sustainably high harvest without endangering tomorrow‘s livelihood.

Stay up to date.

In the EAM blog our experts share their thoughts on current trends and developments in the field of responsibility.

In order to ensure the high quality of our responsible investment process and to expand our market leadership, we cooperate closely with a range of partners that specialise in responsibility. We complement our internal research with external perspectives, thus gaining objectivity and increasing the effect of our engagement. To us, responsibility is a process that has to be developed on an ongoing basis. Therefore we are also members of a number of forums and associations that promote research on responsibility.

The quality seals we have received from different organisations are testament to the fact that our responsible funds are not just empty promises but that they really assume responsibility towards society and environment. Having been awarded EUROSIF and the Austrian Environmental Seal, Erste Asset Management is obliged to subject its funds to ongoing scrutiny.


The Erste Responsible Advisory Board supports Erste Asset Management both in its ESG approach and its investment process. The Board consists of internationally renowned experts who contribute know-how from their respective area to facilitate an optimal decision-making process.

Dr. Anna Durnová, Ph.D.

Chair, Advisory Board expert for technology and medicine

Dr Durnová is a researcher at the Vienna University with a focus on political science and healthcare politics. She is also the author of numerous publications. She has held the Hertha Firnberg Scholarship since 2012 and is member of the research platform “Life-Science-Governance”.

Günter Benischek

Advisory Board expert for social affairs / NGOs

As board member of Zweite Sparkasse and Head of Social Banking of Erste Bank Österreich, Günter Benischek contributes in-depth know-how and experience in economic and social action.

Ing. Mag. Klaus Bergsmann

Advisory Board expert for environmental questions

The long-term successful banker has been Head of Group Environmental Management of Erste Group Bank AG since 2011. He is active member of a working group on the financial and insure sector. This group deals with ways of introducing ecological aspects into the financial sector.

Dr. Klaus Gabriel

Advisory Board expert for religion/ethics

Dr Gabriel has worked in investment advisory for more than 30 years and has been Director of the Corporate Responsibility Interface Center (CRIC) since 2010. He holds research and teaching positions at numerous German-speaking universities and is an expert in business ethics.

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Gyöngyi Lóránth

Advisory Board expert for governance

Dr Lóránth is an expert in governance as well as financial and corporate strategy. She holds a PhD in economics from the University of Brussels and from the University of Barcelona. She is also a university lector and teaches, among other places, at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.