Asset Management & Custody Activities

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Asset Management & Custody Activities industry entities manage investment portfolios on a commission or fee basis for institutional, retail and high net-worth investors. In addition, entities in this industry provide wealth management, private banking, financial planning, and investment advisory and retail securities brokerage services. Investment portfolios and strategies may be diversified across multiple asset classes, which may include equities, fixed income and hedge fund investments. Specific entities are engaged in venture capital and private equity investments. The industry provides essential services to a range of customers from individual retail investors to large, institutional asset owners to meet specified investment goals. Entities in the industry range from large multi-jurisdictional asset managers with a wide range of investable products, strategies and asset classes to small boutique entities providing services to specific market niches. While large entities generally compete based on management fees charged for their services as well as their potential to generate superior investment performance, the smaller entities generally compete on their ability to provide products and services customised to satisfy the diversification needs of individual clients. The global 2008 financial crisis and subsequent regulatory regime developments highlight the industry’s importance in providing fair advice to customers and managing risks at the entity, portfolio and macroeconomic levels.

Relevant Issues (4 of 26)

Why are some issues greyed out? The SASB Standards vary by industry based on the different sustainability-related risks and opportunities within an industry. The issues in grey were not identified during the standard-setting process as the most likely to be useful to investors, so they are not included in the Standard. Over time, as the ISSB continues to receive market feedback, some issues may be added or removed from the Standard. Each company determines which sustainability-related risks and opportunities are relevant to its business. The Standard is designed for the typical company in an industry, but individual companies may choose to report on different sustainability-related risks and opportunities based on their unique business model.
  • Environment
    • GHG Emissions
    • Air Quality
    • Energy Management
    • Water & Wastewater Management
    • Waste & Hazardous Materials Management
    • Ecological Impacts
  • Social Capital
    • Human Rights & Community Relations
    • Customer Privacy
    • Data Security
    • Access & Affordability
    • Product Quality & Safety
    • Customer Welfare
    • Selling Practices & Product Labeling The category addresses social issues that may arise from a failure to manage the transparency, accuracy, and comprehensibility of marketing statements, advertising, and labeling of products and services. It includes, but is not limited to, advertising standards and regulations, ethical and responsible marketing practices, misleading or deceptive labeling, as well as discriminatory or predatory selling and lending practices. This may include deceptive or aggressive selling practices in which incentive structures for employees could encourage the sale of products or services that are not in the best interest of customers or clients.
  • Human Capital
    • Labor Practices
    • Employee Health & Safety
    • Employee Engagement, Diversity & Inclusion The category addresses a company’s ability to ensure that its culture and hiring and promotion practices embrace the building of a diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the makeup of local talent pools and its customer base. It addresses the issues of discriminatory practices on the bases of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and other factors.
  • Business Model and Innovation
    • Product Design & Lifecycle Management The category addresses incorporation of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations in characteristics of products and services provided or sold by the company. It includes, but is not limited to, managing the lifecycle impacts of products and services, such as those related to packaging, distribution, use-phase resource intensity, and other environmental and social externalities that may occur during their use-phase or at the end of life. The category captures a company’s ability to address customer and societal demand for more sustainable products and services as well as to meet evolving environmental and social regulation. It does not address direct environmental or social impacts of the company’s operations nor does it address health and safety risks to consumers from product use, which are covered in other categories.
    • Business Model Resilience
    • Supply Chain Management
    • Materials Sourcing & Efficiency
    • Physical Impacts of Climate Change
  • Leadership and Governance
    • Business Ethics The category addresses the company’s approach to managing risks and opportunities surrounding ethical conduct of business, including fraud, corruption, bribery and facilitation payments, fiduciary responsibilities, and other behavior that may have an ethical component. This includes sensitivity to business norms and standards as they shift over time, jurisdiction, and culture. It addresses the company’s ability to provide services that satisfy the highest professional and ethical standards of the industry, which means to avoid conflicts of interest, misrepresentation, bias, and negligence through training employees adequately and implementing policies and procedures to ensure employees provide services free from bias and error.
    • Competitive Behavior
    • Management of the Legal & Regulatory Environment
    • Critical Incident Risk Management
    • Systemic Risk Management

Disclosure Topics

What is the relationship between General Issue Category and Disclosure Topics? The General Issue Category is an industry-agnostic version of the Disclosure Topics that appear in each SASB Standard. Disclosure topics represent the industry-specific impacts of General Issue Categories. The industry-specific Disclosure Topics ensure each SASB Standard is tailored to the industry, while the General Issue Categories enable comparability across industries. For example, Health & Nutrition is a disclosure topic in the Non-Alcoholic Beverages industry, representing an industry-specific measure of the general issue of Customer Welfare. The issue of Customer Welfare, however, manifests as the Counterfeit Drugs disclosure topic in the Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals industry.
General Issue Category
(Industry agnostic)

Disclosure Topics (Industry specific) for: Asset Management & Custody Activities

Selling Practices & Product Labeling
  • Transparent Information & Fair Advice for Customers

    Asset managers have legal obligations and fiduciary duties related to record keeping, operating and marketing, disclosure requirements, and prohibition of fraudulent activities. Regulations surrounding the Asset Management & Custody Activities industry are intended to align the interests of entities and their clients and to limit conflicts of interest. This alignment, coupled with the fact that most asset managers earn fees based on the amount of assets under management, provides a significant incentive for entities to provide clients with strategies that match their risk-return profiles. Despite required disclosures, entities still face significant challenges in ensuring that clients understand the nature of risks taken in investment strategies. Failure to provide services that satisfy customer expectations may result in lengthy and costly litigation, diminished trust with clients, and lower sales as a result. Enhanced disclosure on procedures or programs to provide adequate, clear, and transparent information about products and services, the regulatory violation record of employees, and the amount of fines and settlements associated with professional integrity will provide investors with an advanced understanding of how well entities manage risks associated with this issue and whether they are able to preserve long-term value for shareholders.
Employee Engagement, Diversity & Inclusion
  • Employee Diversity & Inclusion

    Asset management and custody activities entities face a high degree of competition for skilled employees. At the same time, the industry has a low level of diversity, especially among senior roles. In recent years, considerable media attention has been focused on cases of gender discrimination involving publicly listed entities in the industry. As the industry continues to undergo rapid innovation through the introduction of more complex financial products and computerised algorithmic and high-frequency trading, the ability of entities to attract and retain skilled employees will likely be increasingly material. By ensuring gender and racial diversity throughout the organisation, entities are likely to expand their candidate pools, which could lower hiring costs and improve operational efficiency. Further, evidence suggests that diverse groups of employees at asset management entities may enhance the risk-return characteristics of investment portfolios. Enhanced disclosure regarding employee gender and racial/ethnic diversity, especially when provided by employee category, will allow shareholders to assess how entities in this industry are managing the associated risks and opportunities.
Product Design & Lifecycle Management
  • Incorporation of Environmental, Social, and Governance Factors in Investment Management & Advisory

    Asset Management & Custody Activities entities maintain a fiduciary responsibility to their clients. These entities must consider and incorporate an analysis of all material information into investment decisions, including environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. The process of ESG investment involves consideration of ESG factors in valuation, modelling, portfolio construction, proxy voting and engagement with investees and, as a result, in investment decision-making by asset and wealth managers. As the management and use of non-financial forms of capital increasingly contribute to market value, incorporation of ESG factors in the analysis of investees has become more relevant. Research has established that an entity’s management of some ESG factors may impact materially both its accounting and market returns. Therefore, deep understanding of investees’ ESG performance, integration of ESG factors in valuation and modelling, as well as engagement with investees on sustainability issues allows asset managers to generate superior returns. On the other hand, asset management and custody activities industry entities that fail to consider these risks and opportunities in their investment management activities may witness diminished investment portfolio returns that may result in reduced performance fees. Over the long term, these failures could result in an outflow of assets under management (AUM), the loss of market share and lower management fees.
  • Financed Emissions

    Entities participating in asset management activities face risks and opportunities related to the greenhouse gas emissions associated with those activities. Counterparties, borrowers or investees with higher emissions might be more susceptible to risks associated with technological changes, shifts in supply and demand and policy change which in turn can impact the prospects of a financial institution that is providing financial services to these entities. These risks and opportunities can arise in the form of credit risk, market risk, reputational risk and other financial and operational risks. For example, credit risk might arise in relation to financing clients affected by increasingly stringent carbon taxes, fuel efficiency regulations or other policies; credit risk might also arise through related technological shifts. Reputational risk might arise from financing fossil-fuel projects. Entities participating in asset management activities are increasingly monitoring and managing such risks by measuring their financed emissions. This measurement serves as an indicator of an entity’s exposure to climate-related risks and opportunities and how it might need to adapt its investment strategies over time.
Business Ethics
  • Business Ethics

    The regulatory environment surrounding the Asset Management & Custody Activities industry continues to evolve both nationally and internationally. Entities are required to adhere to a complex and often inconsistent set of rules relating to performance and conduct as well as disclosure on issues including insider trading, clearing requirements in over-the-counter derivatives markets, and tax evasion. Asset management and custody activities entities are also subject to strict legal requirements as fiduciaries or custodians of their clients. Finally, in some jurisdictions, enhanced rewards for whistleblowers may lead to an increase in the number of complaints brought to regulators. Firms that are able to ensure regulatory compliance through robust internal controls will be better positioned to build trust with clients, leading to increased revenue, and to protect shareholder value by minimising losses incurred as a result of legal proceedings.

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Current Industry: Asset Management & Custody Activities

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