A partnership to better explain ESG factors and sustainability to the whole financial community
Equita has been partnering with ALTIS (the graduate business school of the Cattolica University and pioneer in the study of corporate social responsibility in Italy) since 2018. The collaboration has the aim to promote ESG behaviours among small and mid-sized enterprises in order to be better assessed from a sustainable point of view.
Sustainability: a tailor-made assessment for SMEs
the Research Team of Equita, jointly with ALTIS, conducted a study, named "Sustainability: a tailor-made assessment for SMEs", to identify and analyse the most important ESG factors for Italian SMEs. This study was thought out of the conviction that the small to mid-cap companies have unique qualities which require an ad-hoc approach in order to be correctly represented in an ESG valuation, and strives, therefore, to identify the optimal variables to be used toward this end.
The study was conducted based on interviews of small and mid-cap companies which already have an ESG rating. The key purpose was to understand the interactions between the rating agencies and the companies during the assessment and the consistency of the rating assigned with respect to the company’s perceived positioning.
The results of the study are based on data gathered through interviews and an ad-hoc questionnaire prepared by Equita and ALTIS, and sent to a group of 30 listed companies with a capitalization of between 250 million and 4 billion euro belonging to different sectors (financials, utilities, manufacturing).
The purpose of the questionnaire was to integrate the information typically gathered by the rating agencies with information on areas that appeared not correctly addressed or underestimated (particularly social aspects) and help the companies to fully enhance their strength points, providing a sort of checklist to investigate the main sustainability issues.
The interviews allowed the identification of limitations in the ESG assessment process which distort the sustainability assessment of SMEs and which could penalise the investment appeal of this market segment.
The questionnaire prepared by Equita and ALTIS is a useful tool to mitigate the risks of not properly represent a company from the sustainability point of view. More in details:
- companies can use the questionnaire as a checklist to identify the areas that are not properly represented or disclosed to the financial community;
- the questionnaire, if shared to the public, can provide all the stakeholders an unbiased and synthetic ESG profile, particularly useful for all the companies without ESG ratings.
The results of the study were presented during the event held on 9 September 2019 at the Cattolica University, during which companies, institutions and investors shared their views of sustainability. Representatives of CONSOB, the Corporate Governance Committee of Borsa Italiana and Assonime participated to a round table (please visit the dedicated web page)
A useful tool for investors and companies
In the wake of the study conducted with ALTIS, the Research Team of Equita conducted a second study on sustainability, where the needs of investors who want to invest responsibly, particularly in the SMEs, were analysed.
The main purpose of the research was to better understand:
- to what extent and how the assessment of ESG factors has been included in the investment strategies of asset managers in Italy;
- operationally speaking, what are the biggest difficulties with the preparation of these investment strategies;
- what do investment houses need in order to promote wider spread and more qualified ESG analysis.
The study was conducted based on a survey which Equita submitted to around 30 asset managers, representing the main investment houses in Italy.
The results of the survey strongly supported the need to spread the awareness within companies of the importance of sustainability and help them to identify the areas that are not monitored adequately or reflected in the ESG rating; moreover, a revision in the rating methodologies currently used should be encouraged in order to ensure that the specific features of SMEs are better reflected in the ESG ratings; a higher contribute to defining the type of information that best meets the needs of both the investors and the companies is needed.
Equita – ALTIS questionnaire
In light of the key findings of the Equita and ALTIS’ researches, Equita has started a dissemination process of the Equita-ALTIS questionnaire. The latter can also be submitted online filling the form available on the dedicated website (https://www.surveygizmo.eu/s3/90196633/Questionario-ESG). Thanks to the questionnaire, Equita will be able to build a database which allows us to prepare and include an ESG business description of each company in our research reports disseminated to investors.
The latter will be useful to both the investors, to better assess the companies’ sustainability, and the companies, as they enhance the dissemination of the work done on ESG factors and sustainability