Frédéric Janbon: ‘Sustainable investing will likely be a serious power’


Frédéric Janbon is an ESG evangelist. The chief government of BNP Paribas Asset Administration is resolute in his views that environmental, social and governance points can and do play a giant function in driving funding returns.

His conviction in sustainable investing is such that he has led a reorganisation of the €553bn asset supervisor round one goal: “To ship long-term sustainable returns to our purchasers.”

“We have now put sustainable investing on the very coronary heart of our technique,” says Mr Janbon.

It’s a lofty purpose and one which the fund unit of the French financial institution has acquired excessive reward for, together with from ShareAction, the accountable funding organisation, which ranked it among the many finest asset managers on the planet for ESG in a report this yr. 

But the challenges of sustainable investing — which goals to look past conventional monetary metrics to points from labour rights to local weather change — is laid naked once we communicate, simply two days after fast-fashion retailer Boohoo was engulfed in a provide chain scandal.

The retailer’s share value dropped greater than a fifth in at some point alone, following a Sunday Instances investigation that accused Boohoo of poor working circumstances in its provide chain. Like many different asset managers which were vocal about ESG, BNP Paribas AM ranked amongst Boohoo’s prime 25 shareholders.

Talking by video name from his London residence, Mr Janbon is loquacious and severe, but in addition fast to joke. When requested in regards to the Boohoo shareholding, he doesn’t draw back from the query — a subject many friends have been reluctant to touch upon in current weeks.

As an alternative, he says, because the information broke, BNP Paribas AM instantly sought to talk to the retailer “to get their aspect of the story, and to get to know extra to what extent they’re uncovered to those form of points”.

BNP Paribas Asset Administration

Established 1968

Property below administration €408bn

Workers 3,187 (as at 31 December 2019)

Headquarters Paris

Possession BNP Paribas S.A.

The 57-year-old says the asset supervisor has all the time been an “energetic proprietor” of Boohoo, together with voting in opposition to a pay decision on the firm’s annual assembly. However he admits BNP Paribas AM should take an excellent harder method in future.

“The truth that information got here out lately forces us to be much more inquisitive with the administration of this firm about their practices,” he says.

There may be additionally one other lesson from the Boohoo story: the necessity for higher data from firms on ESG points, he says. He factors out that there is no such thing as a consistency within the stage of knowledge supplied by firms on ESG points, and even when firms disclose data in a standardised kind, it’s not audited by a 3rd celebration.

“We’re very a lot of the view that ESG or sustainable investing will likely be a serious power in asset administration over the course of the following decade. However for it to be extra exact, for it to be an excellent driver of efficiency and a great way to restrict the danger for the investments of our purchasers, it’s essential that authorities at giant do truly compel firms to reveal audited, standardised and exact data on these non-financial disclosures.”

Mr Janbon has held the highest job at BNP Paribas’s fund arm since 2015, taking over the function after virtually three many years on the financial institution. He joined Paribas, which later merged with Banque Nationale de Paris to kind BNP Paribas, as a dealer in 1988, working his means up the ranks together with holding roles as international head of mounted earnings at BNP Paribas’s funding banking arm and as a particular adviser to the group administration.

Below his watch, the asset administration enterprise has had an overhaul, dumping the BNP Paribas Funding Companions title, integrating its numerous divisions, specializing in sustainability and rolling out new expertise techniques, together with BlackRock’s Aladdin platform. As a part of the reorganisation, the corporate has doubled down on 5 “core competencies”: high-conviction methods, rising markets, multi-asset options, personal debt and liquidity options.

“We’re match for development. We have now essentially reworked this firm each when it comes to organisation, when it comes to construction and when it comes to techniques,” he says.

Nonetheless, the coronavirus pandemic has delayed a few of its plans. The corporate was as a result of minimize its workforce by 10 per cent in France, in addition to making “small changes” to employees numbers elsewhere on the planet this yr as a part of the mixing of its numerous arms and overhaul of its techniques, “which successfully generates economies of scale”.

The transfer has been delayed partly as a result of in France the plan was based mostly on voluntary departures, and partly as a result of Mr Janbon was uncomfortable making individuals redundant throughout a pandemic.

Frédéric Janbon’s CV

Born Three March 1963 Montpellier

Complete pay Not disclosed


1984-87 MSc in Engineering, AgroParis Tech


1988-91 Choices & Swap Dealer, Paribas

1991-93 Head of rates of interest derivatives buying and selling Europe ex-France, Paribas

1994-95 Head of rates of interest derivatives buying and selling and gross sales, France, Paribas

1995-96 Head of rates of interest derivatives buying and selling and gross sales, Japan, Paribas

1996—01 International head of rates of interest derivatives buying and selling, international head of mounted earnings derivatives, BNP Paribas CIB

2001—05 International head of rates of interest group, BNP Paribas CIB

Dec 2005 — Nov 2014 International head of mounted earnings, BNP Paribas CIB

Dec 2014 — Oct 2015 Particular adviser to group administration, BNP Paribas

Oct 2015-present Chief government officer, BNP Paribas Asset Administration

“We take care of our employees. In some circumstances when the plan just isn’t voluntary, the dialogue we have to have with our employees members are usually not simple discussions and I assumed it was not good to do this by Zoom.”

Regardless of this, whereas acknowledging the dangers of a sluggish restoration, Mr Janbon believes BNP Paribas AM might fare nicely from the pandemic.

“This disaster, despite the fact that it’s a catastrophe for the entire world, it’s a nice alternative for us to go quicker as a result of it’s taking part in to our strengths; taking part in to our expertise energy, our ESG and sustainable energy and it is rather a lot taking part in to our built-in mannequin.”

As a part of this push for development, the chief government is already on the hunt for firms to purchase, ideally looking for these which might be specialists within the 5 areas it has deemed its core competencies or else teams that would enhance distribution channels for its merchandise.

There are ongoing discussions with potential targets, he says. However when pushed for names, he laughs: “Now I’m going to fake the road may be very dangerous to not reply this query.”

For now, Mr Janbon can also be wanting ahead to life after lockdown. He “tailored pretty nicely” to working from residence and loved spending extra time along with his kids, aged between 17 and 23, however is itching to see extra colleagues in particular person. He returned to his office for a day lately, an odd expertise with solely three others of their London constructing. “I needed to put on a masks, I washed my fingers god is aware of what number of instances. It was all very, very quiet,” he says.

Whereas others have forecasted the loss of life of the workplace as we all know it, Mr Janbon just isn’t satisfied that coronavirus will drive such a dramatic shift, arguing that whereas working from residence brings about advantages for some, there are drawbacks, “comparable to not having the sense of togetherness”.

There are classes to take from the disaster, he provides. “We learnt fairly a couple of issues about the best way we work. Conferences began on time, selections have been taken lots quicker, we centered on what was important.”

Then the ESG evangelist factors to at least one closing lesson: how firms cared for his or her employees throughout this unrivalled interval. “We seen that actually it will be an vital funding driver,” he says.


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