Impact and ESG Policy

CCM believes that a fully integrated portfolio, one that includes impact and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors, can deliver strong financial performance while simultaneously having positive long-term economic and sustainable outcomes. The firm has expanded from managing U.S. high credit quality taxable fixed income impact strategies to impact and ESG investing strategies across asset classes.

We execute on this philosophy as follows:

  • CCM manages assets that align with one or more of 18 impact themes. Initially developed for the firm’s work in fixed income, we have expanded the use of these impact themes across all asset classes. These themes include: affordable health and rehabilitation care; affordable housing; arts, culture, and the creative economy; disaster recovery, resilience, and remediation; economic inclusion; education and childcare; enterprise development and jobs; environmental sustainability; gender lens; healthy communities; human empowerment; minority advancement; neighborhood revitalization; poverty alleviation; rural community development; seniors and the disabled; sustainable agriculture; and transit-oriented development.
  • We look for affirmative, bottom-up expressions of impact and ESG qualifications.
  • Our two-fold approach seeks positive impact and ESG attributes that align with our impact themes while also avoiding investments which we believe are inconsistent with these themes.

CCM was one of the original signatories to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and is a current signatory. We believe the approach to responsible investment set out in this policy aligns well with these Principles. 

Fixed Income

CCM’s fixed income strategies invest in high-quality, well-researched, fossil fuel free bonds where we have confidence that the use of the proceeds will have positive societal impacts. We must be able to quantify and report on the expected impact outcomes and/or detail the qualitative benefits of each investment. This involves monitoring bonds on an ongoing basis and monitoring bonds with eligible social project selection and reporting criteria. Each of the bonds that we select for a portfolio must meet our stringent impact and financial criteria. Our impact criteria includes:

  • Use of Proceeds: The use of proceeds must positively impact a community in one or more ways.
  • Transparency: Our proprietary approach, whereby we have visibility into the use of bond proceeds, allows us to better understand the financed programs and have confidence in their expected positive environmental and social outcomes.
  • Reporting: We must be able to quantify and report on the expected impact and/or detail the qualitative benefits of the investment. Quantitative data can include the number of jobs created or the number of affordable housing units as well as dollar amounts invested in impact themes. Qualitative research is the “story,” so to speak, which includes detailed explanations of what the security is financing. We report to clients on the positive impact outcomes of their investments and offer institutional clients the opportunity to customize their fixed income portfolios by geographies or impact themes.

Ongoing Use of Proceeds Due Diligence:

Prior to purchasing a bond, the investment team must feel comfortable with:

  • The use of proceeds intent.
  • The project selection criteria.
  • The project selection process and future metrics and/or reporting to be provided.

CCM will proactively monitor the ongoing use of proceeds reported to certify that:

  • The issuing entity is reporting within the anticipated and acceptable timeframe.
  • The use of proceeds reporting provides the relevant metrics for both quantitative and qualitative evaluation.
  • The proceeds are being allocated to projects meeting the original intent and project selection criteria.

If our team finds a bond to be in violation of any of the above criteria, the head of fixed income and chief impact strategist will immediately be notified, and a plan of action will be reviewed by the Impact and CRA Committee. Action items include:

  • The head of fixed income contacting the issuer’s investment bank for clarity.
  • The chief impact strategist contacting the issuer’s management and/or investor relations team.
  • If these steps do not provide the necessary information, another meeting will be held to discuss exiting the position and updates on the ongoing proceed allocations will be made to the Enterprise Risk Committee quarterly.

Equities

Similar to our approach in fixed income, we evaluate equity securities from an impact and financial perspective.  CCM supplements its in-house research with third-party data to determine where potential holdings fall in the following four categories:

  1. Strong Positive Impact: Companies that we believe are significant contributors to society such as those that generate more than 50% of their revenue from a product or service and that align with one or more of our 18 impact themes.
  2. Moderate Positive Impact: Companies which have characteristics that align with one or more of our 18 impact themes and that we believe are a net benefit to society.
  3. Neutral Impact: Companies that do not fall within the two categories above but where there exists the potential to be included in the two categories in the future.
  4. Negative Impact: Companies with excessive ESG-related risk such as fossil fuel exploration and production or any activity related to coal, tobacco, chemical manufacturing, weapons, and prison management, among others. These securities are not eligible for investment.

For investment strategies that include both fixed income and equity investments in a single portfolio, we apply the same respective tools and techniques mentioned above to each investment when measuring, monitoring, and tracking impact and ESG metrics and outcomes.

Fossil Fuel Free Criteria: Long-Only Equity Funds

CCM manages two long-only equity Funds and has adopted well-defined guidance for the fossil fuel free sector. The criteria enumerated below is intended to give clients an indication of how these Funds could fit into a market-rate fossil fuel free strategy.

  • The Funds do not invest in companies in the business of owning, extracting, producing, processing, or refining the fossil fuels of oil, gas, and coal (S&P Global definition: “Companies that hold fossil fuel reserves, which are defined as economically and technically recoverable sources of crude oil, natural gas, and thermal coal.”)
  • The Funds do not invest in companies that are in the business of storage, transportation, exploration, or production of carbon-related fuels or energy sources.
  • The Funds do not invest in companies that are in the oil or gas equipment and services businesses.
  • The Funds may invest in utilities that have current fossil fuel power sources above 15% but are actively transitioning to renewable sources.
  • The Funds may invest in companies that are pursuing alternative energy technologies or are in alternative energy sectors.
  • The Funds may invest in companies that are working to transition away from fossil fuels.

Proxy Voting Guidelines

As an active investor strongly concerned with corporate responsibility, we support communication with company management about organizational practices we would like improved. We engage in active, ongoing dialogue with clients to ensure that the views we express to corporations reflect our opinion and theirs as well.

We support:

  • Corporate boards that include adequate representation for independent, women, and minority directors; we will withhold votes from all corporate board nominees that result in fewer than two women directors.
  • Shareholder resolutions calling for separation of the CEO and Board Chair functions.
  • Corporate disclosure, reporting, and transparency resolutions, especially in regard to disclosure of climate risk and gender pay gap.
  • “Say on pay” and similar efforts to give a company’s owners a voice in management compensation.
  • Company benefits and/or compensation plans for all regardless of gender, race, age, or sexual orientation.
  • Policies that promote the voting power of the share classes offered to the public.
  • Companies that recognize the carbon intensity of their businesses.
  • Safe working conditions for all employees, suppliers, and contractors regardless of global location.