Vito Cavaliere worked in France for almost 14 years, before returning to his native Italy at the end of 2020 to join the BNP Paribas Cardif Asset Management team as head of equity and bonds. He is now leading the progressive implementation of the company’s Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) strategy into the Italian general funds which totalled around 25.2 billion euros in assets in 2021.
Could you describe your job?
As an insurer, we believe that our role as an institutional investor comes with responsibilities. My job is to manage savings entrusted to us by our policyholders over the long-term with the objective of combining financial performance with a positive impact on society and the environment. Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) is quite naturally a key priority for BNP Paribas Cardif in Italy, because it is aligned with our objective of protecting the assets invested by our customers while promoting the transition towards a more sustainable world. I am convinced that these investment choices strengthen the resilience of our portfolios in the short, medium and long term.
What are your day-to-day objectives?
In close partnership with our asset management colleagues in France and Luxembourg, we work across a three-pillar approach. First of all, we apply different filters to the investments we make via our general funds: an ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) filter, a carbon transition filter and sector filters (such as thermal coal) applied to our investment universe. All directly held assets in our general funds are evaluated through extra-financial criteria. We place priority on companies that apply best practices and are committed to protect the environment and people.
Secondly, we deepen our commitments to tackle climate change, in line with the commitment of BNP Paribas Cardif which also joined international initiatives like the UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance. Finally, we continuously develop positive impact investments with a measurable social and environmental impact, while generating a financial return for our customers.
What are you most proud of?
As part of our SRI strategy in Italy, during the recent years, we have improved the ESG coverage of our investments. Today, close to 93% of the assets in our general fund is evaluated according to ESG criteria. We have also improved our indicators for analysing and monitoring our investments in terms of climate change. I am also proud of the acceleration of our positive impact investments. Indeed, we have invested in green bonds that make it possible to finance projects with high environmental value. What’s more, we have invested in social bonds such as the “Covid-19 Social Response Bond” issued by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti. With this social bond, we contribute to financing for small and mid-sized Italian companies who face liquidity challenges, as well as companies that promote access to medical equipment and medicines.
What is the response among clients, employees and stakeholders?
We have increased reporting of our SRI investment strategy, particularly with the publication of our first CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) report in 2021, and we organised awareness and training sessions on sustainability for our employees. The response has far exceeded our expectations. The depth of information is greatly appreciated by our distribution partners and by our teams that are really interested in understanding how we contribute to a more sustainable world. This generates pride at the internal level and gives meaning to our actions. As an insurance company, we have a responsibility to lead the way and look beyond financial performance to have a positive impact on society.
What motivates you?
Things are changing very fast and the world is more complex than ever before. If we want to have a positive impact, we simply cannot work alone. Teamwork is something I enjoy because it is important to analyse scenarios from other perspectives. I am naturally optimistic, so I take comfort in the rising levels of awareness regarding these environmental and social impact topics. We need to act now to build a more sustainable world. I also put my trust in technology which is part of the solution. Of course, technology on its own is not enough – people make the change – and I am hopeful we can find the right combination.
What’s the next innovation?
I think impact-investing measurements will be key: we will benefit from the enhancing use of data and analytics to better measure and analyse the impact of our investments to achieve social and environmental challenges.
Is momentum growing behind ESG investments?
Absolutely. Awareness has changed dramatically in the last decade. Government policies are becoming more and more demanding: France is leading the change in Europe. Regulation is continuously evolving and will contribute to accelerate this transition: thanks to the introduction of Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) at the European level which increases transparency by mandating disclosure of sustainability information. I’m really proud to work for BNP Paribas Cardif, because we are taking the lead in sustainable investments. Our customers are increasingly asking for greater details about the impact of their investments. And, at BNP Paribas Cardif, we will continue to strengthen our commitment.
Find the full BNP Paribas Cardif Activity Report here.