Asset Manager Award
The Morningstar Award for Investing Excellence for the best asset manager is presented to the asset manager that not only stands out based on excellent performance of its fund line-up, but also, in the opinion of Morningstar's fund analysts, has an outstanding investment culture and puts the interests of investors first. This is the 2023 winner:
Parent Pillar Score: Above Average
Robeco demonstrates a strong investment culture and acts as a good steward of investors' capital, earning it a Parent rating of Above Average.
In 2013, Japanese financial conglomerate Orix acquired a 90% stake in Robeco and has fully owned the firm since 2016. It restructured the group, which consists of several autonomous asset managers. This reorganisation led to turnover within the higher echelons of the firm, which continued when RobecoSAM was integrated into Robeco in 2020.
Fortunately, the instability at the top didn't impact Robeco's investment teams. Robeco has generally been able to attract and retain talented investors, although we have seen a few prominent portfolio managers leave in recent years.
The firm continues to capitalise on its proven expertise, which includes quantitative equities, thematic strategies, and credits, while rationalising others that fall outside of its wheelhouse. Sustainability has been integrated across all asset classes and strategies to varying degrees, with its impact range still using the RobecoSAM label.
The firm offers strategies that on average score well on both quantitative and qualitative Morningstar ratings. Robeco's remuneration policy is aligned with investors' interests by emphasising long-term risk-adjusted returns, and the firm has a prudent capacity-management process in place.
Asset Manager Sustainable-Investing Award
Finally, Morningstar introduced a new award, for best asset manager sustainable investing. This award is given to the asset manager that not only scores well based on the Morningstar Sustainability Rating, but is also strongly committed to integrating environmental, social and governance factors into its fund offering. These asset managers typically have a clearly defined ESG philosophy, a strong degree of ESG integration into investment processes and adequate resources to conduct sustainability research. In addition, these asset managers also have solid corporate engagement and proxy-voting programs. This is the 2023 winner:
Morningstar ESG Commitment Level: Leader
Robeco has a long heritage in sustainable investing and continues to integrate and nurture ESG best practices, earning it a Morningstar ESG Commitment Level of Leader.
Robeco has been a pioneer in sustainable investing for decades, with a history that goes back to 1995. Since becoming an early signatory of the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment in 2006, Robeco has remained publicly committed to sustainable investing. Robeco joined Climate Action 100+ in 2017, and the firm participates in numerous working groups and collaborative engagement initiatives. The firm has set clear and challenging milestones on climate action and set clear targets to reduce its own operational carbon emissions.
Robeco has shaped its product range according to high ESG standards supported by its vast research capability. The firm applies exclusions and integrates ESG for 96% of its assets under management, with the degree of exclusions and sustainability targets varying depending on whether a strategy is classified as "sustainability inside", "sustainability focused", or "impact". Portfolio managers and analysts have access to a comprehensive sustainability dashboard.
Robeco has built an impressive team that is dedicated to the company’s sustainability initiatives. More than 50 dedicated resources are involved in sustainability research, thought leadership, active ownership, and client support. Although there has been elevated turnover within the firm’s sustainability research team, Robeco has adequately backfilled departures, while adding capability by hiring experts on biodiversity and climate and other key themes.
Robeco’s deep resources enable intensive engagements with many companies simultaneously on a variety of themes. Its public disclosure of voting and engagement activities has improved. Since 2022, Robeco discloses rationales for its voting decisions and provides more case studies naming the companies it engages with. Robeco also now discloses the full list of companies under engagement, categorised by theme.
Winning both fund house awards, Victor Verberk, CIO Fixed Income & Sustainability at Robeco, said: “We are honoured to be awarded ‘Best Asset Manager’ and ‘Best Asset Manager – Sustainable Investing’ by Morningstar, as it underlines our strength as a pure-play asset manager and a leader in sustainable investing. At Robeco, we aim to add value for our clients while also aiming to create a real-world impact. We have been committed to ESG integration for decades, as it helps us to identify opportunities and manage downside risk. In our sustainable investing approach, we specifically focus on climate change, biodiversity and human rights.