Contributions to the field
We recognize that the field of sustainable investing is actively growing and evolving, and each organization in this community has an opportunity to contribute to the field’s advancement. There are three major ways that Putnam and our Sustainable Investing team are helping to advance the field: engaged ownership, thought leadership, and collaboration.
- Ongoing dialogue: We believe active managers have a particular role to play in working with company management teams since we are long-term investors and our fundamental research process means that we are already in regular dialogue with company leadership about strategy and execution. For reference, Putnam’s equity and corporate credit research teams hold over 3,000 private meetings with management teams annually.
- CEO letters: In addition to ongoing research-related conversations, we send annual, individually tailored letters to the CEOs of all companies held within Putnam Sustainable Leaders Fund and Putnam Sustainable Future Fund, acknowledging efforts to date and encouraging future progress on key sustainability issues specific to each company. Similar letters have been sent in 2020 to the CEOs of Putnam’s overall top equity holdings, representing approximately 50% of equity assets under management.
- Proxy voting: The voting process for Putnam’s mutual funds is overseen by the funds’ Board of Trustees, and we collaborate closely with their governance experts on relevant proxy-related issues.
- Advocacy for improved disclosure: Our ongoing dialogues with company management teams and board members include discussions of corporate strategy, board oversight, and external reporting. Several companies in our portfolios have published inaugural sustainability reports, increased communications on relevant ESG metrics, or made significant progress in identifying material sustainability issues after work with multiple stakeholders, including our team.
You can read details about Putnam’s engagement policy at Putnam.com.
- Research: We share reflections on relevant sustainable investment trends in several different formats. Some of our publicly accessible research can be found online at Sustainable Investing at Putnam and in the Putnam Perspectives blog.4 Additionally, we are members of the Applied Complexity Network of the Santa Fe Institute, where we are especially focused on the intersection of financial systems, social systems, and ecological systems.
- Public speaking and media: We participate in many field-building events, contributing the perspective of active managers in sustainable investing. Over the past two years, we have given guest lectures at a number of colleges and university programs, including MIT Sloan, Brown University, Harvard School of Public Health, and others. We have frequently represented the point of view of sustainable investors at industry meetings hosted by groups like the CFA Institute, the National Investor Relations Institute, the Council of Institutional Investors, the Intentional Endowments Network, and Boston FinTech Week, and at meetings hosted by many financial institutions. Additionally, we have spoken at multiple nonprofit events, including those held by the Santa Fe Institute, the Long Now Institute Boston, Invest in Girls, and PopTech. Also, our sustainable investing has been featured in the media, including Investor’s Business Daily, Bloomberg, GreenMoney Journal, and the Investor’s Field Guide podcast.
- Ongoing pollination: We participate in a number of other ad hoc collaborations, focused on three main areas: research on emerging issues, improving processes for disclosure and analysis of sustainable investing approaches, and contributing to development and transparency of sustainable business practices.
As noted above, Putnam is an advocate for improved and relevant ESG disclosure. We are members of several organizations that support similar goals:
- United Nations Principles for Responsible Investing (UN PRI): Putnam has been a signatory to the UN PRI since 2011. As a UN PRI signatory, Putnam is committed to sustainable investing, including a focus on understanding how ESG factors may influence performance, generate alpha, and/or mitigate risk in client portfolios. Our Head of Sustainable Investing, Katherine Collins, is the chair of Putnam’s ESG (PRI) committee, which also includes senior members of the firm’s operating committee.
- Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB): Putnam joined SASB as an alliance member in 2018, and is currently part of SASB’s Investor Advisory Group. SASB’s mission is to connect businesses and investors on the financial impacts of sustainability. Their work includes the development of an industry-specific taxonomy of financially material sustainability issues.
- CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project): Putnam joined the CDP as an investor signatory in 2020. The CDP is a non-profit that runs a global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states, and regions to manage their environmental impacts.
- Boston Association of Institutional Investors: Putnam currently chairs the ESG working group for this association.