Last updated: 01:21 / Monday, 13 March 2017
Interview with Jean-Marc Pont

Generali Investments: Applying a SRI Approach to the Ageing Population Theme Provide Additional Value

Generali Investments: Applying a SRI Approach to the Ageing Population Theme Provide Additional Value

Turning the aging population into a responsible investment opportunity: this is what is done by the Generali Investments Sicav (GIS) SRI Ageing Population fund, a thematic fund seeking to capitalize on this long-term demographic trend, which is also in line with SRI (Socially responsible investment) criteria. It’s an innovative approach.

The so-called "gray power" is the basis on which to build portfolios that identify those sectors and companies that can most benefit from this phenomenon... and which also meet social profitability criteria.

In an interview with Funds Society, Jean-Marc Pont, Equity Investments Specialist at Generali Investments, explains that "the universe of investable companies is very broad, but the fund concentrates on large and medium-sized European companies with a very small position in those outside the Old Continent.” As a result of the management team’s selection, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany represent over 63% of their exposure to European markets, and there is no talk of uncertainty here because, as Pont points out, "it is a portfolio that is not moved by political events."

Europe is the epicenter of its investment, while it is also the area of the world where the aging of the population will be most evident. After all, about a third of Europeans will be over 60 in 2040. As a result, it will be here that seniors will progressively control a higher percentage of income. This is the case in Sweden, Finland, Belgium, and France, where by 2020 they will already own over 30% of total revenues.

Also, as explained by Pont, "European companies have a high level of geographical diversification and, therefore, investing in them is investing in other areas of the world, that is, being exposed to worldwide income."

Thus, its average exposure to income from the European continent stands at 53%, with the remaining 47% of exposure to income from the rest of the world.

Three major themes and 13 sub-sectors

The megatrend leads them to maintain an exposure at the end of January, of 48% to the consumer sector, 34% to the health sector, and 18% to retirement planning and saving products. Within these three themes, there are another 13 sub-sectors which range from anti-aging treatments to vitamin supplements, oncology, incontinence, or dental implants. Among the top 10 fund positions at the end of January are, Royal Philips, LVMH, L'Oreal, Roche, Axa, Prudential, or Sanofi.

The thematic investment strategy only includes securities that meet socially responsible investment requirements, and these are, in fact, ahead of the aging megatrend. “We indeed believe that applying a SRI approach to this theme will also provide additional value, through its in-depth analysis of extra-financial criteria,” says the expert.

In the SRI filtering process, a proprietary method is used that includes aspects such as reputation, regulatory pressure, or carbon footprint. Subsequently, companies that meet the 34 most relevant criteria for each sector are identified, and those with a higher than average rating are chosen.

The Thematic European Equity Investment team makes a thematic selection to identify the level of exposure of companies to the three investment pillars. The team then selects the companies for each of the three themes, based on different financial metrics. The result of this three-step strategy is a portfolio of about 50-60 securities that the team periodically follows in order to re-evaluate investment projects and sell the securities when objective valuation is achieved.

Unstoppable Trend

The aging population is worrisome and the figures are alarming. According to the UN, by 2040, the percentage of people over sixty will have increased from 12% in 2015 (900 million) to around 19%, or 1.9 billion.