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.

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 prevention of fraudulent activities. Regulations regarding Asset Management & Custody Activities are intended to align the interests of entities and their clients, limiting conflicts of interest. This alignment, along with the prevalence of asset managers earning fees based on the amount of assets under management, encourages entities to provide clients with investment strategies that match clients’ risk-return profiles. Entities also face significant challenges in ensuring clients understand the nature of investment strategy risks. Failure to provide services that satisfy customer expectations may result in lengthy and costly litigation, diminished trust with clients and lower sales. Enhanced disclosure on procedures or programmes that provide adequate, clear and transparent information about products and services, employees’ regulatory violation records 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

    Entities in the Asset Management & Custody Activities industry face significant competition for skilled employees. 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 may increase in importance. By ensuring gender and racial diversity throughout the organisation, entities may expand their candidate pools, which may reduce hiring costs and improve operational efficiency. Evidence also suggests that entities with more diverse groups of employees may enhance the risk-return characteristics of investment portfolios.
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 internationally. Entities must adhere to a complex and often inconsistent set of rules relating to performance and conduct, as well as provide disclosure on issues including insider trading, tax evasion and clearing requirements in over-the-counter derivatives markets. Entities are subject to strict legal requirements as fiduciaries or custodians of their clients. In some jurisdictions, enhanced rewards for whistle-blowers may increase the number of complaints brought to regulators. Entities that ensure regulatory compliance through robust internal controls may build trust with clients, increase revenue and protect shareholder value by minimising losses incurred because of legal proceedings.

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