Investing to improve
Investing to improve

We are all aware of the many challenges the world faces and increasingly, individuals want to make a positive impact.  Our behaviour as consumers can be significant and there is a growing recognition that we can align our investment decisions with our values – using our money to drive improvement in the world around us.  The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a framework for working to improve the world we live and invest in.

Risk Disclaimer

The value of investments and any income derived from them can go down as well as up as a result of market or currency movements and investors may not get back the original amount invested.

The Sustainable Development Goals – roadmap to a better future

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were developed in 2015 by the United Nations (UN) and cross-industry stakeholders with a view to providing a roadmap towards a more sustainable world by 2030. The SDGs are 17 ambitious, high-level goals with 169 specific targets, that were endorsed by all UN member states.

Achieving these targets typically requires a global perspective together with commitment and coordinated action from international organisations, governments, companies and individuals. We all have a role to play and the SDGs were designed with that in mind.

For example, the UN has estimated that achieving the SDGs will require investment of between US$5-7 trillion each year until 2030. To achieve this, private capital must fund around 85% annually.1

1 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), 2014. World Investment Report; Investing in the SDGs, An Action Plan

Invest – quality matters

The bar we set when investing is high.

Alongside strict criteria around the quality and value of a company, there must be clear opportunity for SDG-linked engagement. We aim to invest for the long term, with low portfolio turnover, facilitating stronger relationships with companies which enhances the effectiveness of our dialogue.

  • Quality matters. Alongside factors like ‘competitive advantage’ we look for companies that effectively manage environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues – factors integral to assessing risk and reward potential.
  • Well managed. Companies should be run by proven management teams, responsible in how they do business, appropriately incentivised and open to shareholder engagement.
  • Price matters. We have a disciplined approach to valuation with a view to investing in companies at an attractive price and maintaining our holding for 5+ years.
  • Scope to drive improvement. Only companies where we see scope for achieving improvement towards SDG targets warrant a place in the portfolio.

Image: © QIAGEN, all rights reserved.

Engage – driving improvement

We engage deeply, having identified 80 SDG targets to focus on, and talk directly with key decision makers

We seek to drive targeted improvement, focusing on how companies address ESG risks, opportunities and impacts. Constructive and informed engagement with companies is a critical component of our approach. For over 20 years, BMO has been an active owner, which plays a major role in allowing us to be better stewards of our clients’ assets.

Engagement is structured around the SDGs and their underlying targets. To engage effectively we strive to understand the company’s corporate strategy, culture and the materiality of ESG factors.

We believe that the best way to achieve our engagement goals is by constructive dialogue with key decision makers on the most relevant ESG issues to each company, in order to drive improvement. Close collaboration between the Global Equities and Responsible Investment teams is at the heart of successful engagement.

We have also developed an online engagement database for over 12,500 companies, allowing us to log interactions, progress and results, which we can do at an SDG target level.

Focusing our dialogue

Underlying targets identified by the UN

Targets selected by the BMO Responsible
Investment team, where there is opportunity
for us to drive change

Improve – measuring our impact

By investing in companies and using the Sustainable Development Goals as an engagement framework, we believe we can contribute to building a more sustainable world.

For companies we invest in we monitor and measure the impact of our dialogue around pre-defined SDG targets. We want to see improvement and continually assess the progress each company is making.

The focus of our engagement varies from company to company depending on the products and services they provide, and how they conduct their business. We log activity and progress on our engagement database. Over time we will assess and report on the progress companies are making.

We exist to convene, catalyse and empower change that sustains growth for good.

Darryl White, Chief Executive Officer, BMO Financial Group – World Economic Forum, 2019

Team in focus – global reach

At BMO Global Asset Management, engagement is a core activity for our investment professionals, spearheaded by our 16-strong Responsible Investment team, with specialists across a breadth of ESG issues and markets.

Around the world, we work to understand the impact of ESG issues on businesses, build long-term relationships with management, gain local knowledge and use our position as a large investor to engage directly with senior management and board members.

With a 16-strong Responsible Investment team, we’re able to build dialogue with companies around the world on a host of key ESG issues.

Jamie Jenkins

Managing Director and Co-Head of Global Equities

Claudia Wearmouth

Director and Co-Head of Responsible Investment

Emma Lupton

Senior Associate, Analyst, Responsible Investment

2018 highlights



company engagements


improvements achieved


link to SDG targets