Referring to a regulatory environment that is “still evolving”, Amundi, Europe’s largest asset management company, said it has taken a “conservative” step and reclassified almost all of its most sustainable investment funds, worth around 45 billion euro, to Article 8 from Article 9 under the EU’s sustainable finance disclosure regulation.
With its reclassifications, the Paris-based firm joins a wave of other asset management companies including Robeco, NN Investment Partners, Kempen, Invesco and Pimco that have taken similar steps in recent months. Amundi decided to reclassify its most sustainable funds last month.
The firms are taking this step after an increasing number of national supervisors, including those in the Benelux countries, indicated that they will apply stringent criteria for Article 9 funds under the SFDR. These funds are also described as known as impact funds, or dark green funds. The regulation has puzzled the industry because the EU has yet to provide clear guidance on a number of aspects relating to sustainable investments.
‘Framework does not yet allow a uniform response’
“While Amundi is pleased to see that regulations have come into force regarding the responsible investment market, with a view to improving transparency and protecting end investors, the current regulatory framework does not yet allow the financial industry to respond in a uniform manner as to what should be considered "sustainable" or not,” Amundi said in a statement.
“Given this still evolving regulatory environment, Amundi has therefore taken a conservative approach in terms of levels of sustainable investment published in its regulatory documentation,” Amundi said. “This choice has led to the reclassification of almost all of its range of Article 9 funds into Article 8.”
At end September 2022, Amundi managed approximately 100 SFDR Article 9 open funds for around 45 billion euro, roughly evenly split between ETFs and active management.
‘Deliberately cautious approach’
Amundi said that it “in no way calls into question the current level of requirements in terms of the integration of effective ESG criteria and the sustainability characteristics of these funds”. “This deliberately cautious approach is in response to Amundi's concern for protecting investors and distributors from a significant risk of confusion in the allocation of savings,” it said.
The reclassifications of sustainable funds were also discussed in the 1 December online webinar hosted jointly by Morningstar and Investment Officer. A recording of the webinar is available via https://www.onlineseminar.com/morningstar2/webinar/48970/good-practices-in-esg-reporting