Pension Fund Personality of the Year 2011

Philippe Dutertre, AG2R La Mondiale 

Head and Shoulders Above the Rest

Currently chairman of the board of AGICAM, the French pensions-owned mutual asset management company, and head of the management board of AG2R, the multi-employer innovative pension fund that founded AGICAM in the first place specifi¬cally to run its multi-billion asset base, Philippe Dutertre has spent more or less his entire working life in institutional asset management, with roles as both investment manager and consultant adorning his impressive CV, which boasts degrees and diplomas in various forms from L’École des Hautes Études Commerciales, Université Paris Dauphine and L’Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris.
Understanding AG2R’s approach, what it has been up to recently and how it has become a leading SRI/ESG investor among Europe’s pension funds in a very short space of time gives a clearer picture of who Dutertre is, what he stands for and why he is a leading light in Europe’s ever-evolving pension scheme sector. The mission driving AG2R’s business plan is quite simple: it seeks to increase and implement the fundamental structure to sustain a high-quality suite of products and services to enhance the social and pensions provision of the members in the various plans and employers making up this influential multi-employer mutual pensions company. 
With Dutertre at its helm, AG2R has clearly dem¬onstrated its commitment in the past five years or so towards developing and fully integrating an SRI/ ESG approach to its investments. This is reflected in the wealth of guides and values it formally subscribes to, such as the UN Global Compact, and the diversity charter. This commitment goes way beyond any simple financial integration. AG2R aims equally to become a leading provider of SRI and a major contributor to its development and dissemination. 
AGICAM, the specialist pensions mutual asset management company that AG2R created and owns outright, manages the operational side of achiev¬ing this ambition. The rise of AG2R AGICAM’s SRI assets from €700m in late 2009 to €1.45bn at the end of June this year reflects how the fund has methodically rolled out its SRI/ESG framework to all asset classes and management strategies – both direct management and multi management – and all the areas in which it operates: institutional asset management and occupational pensions and savings. 
This is further reflected in the design and imple¬mentation of initiatives by AGICAM which serve as a witness of AG2R’s commitment to SRI, its SRI market share and the SRI/ESG evolution within its own investments. These innovative and dedicated steps include: 
  • Becoming a leading academic voice through its status as university chair at various institutes of higher education 
  • Applying a multi-management approach to SRI covering both equities and bonds, which shows a willingness to embrace and adopt the best practice doctrines of its peers and rivals from other regions and sectors to help fulfil its ambition to contribute to the development of and ease of access to the burgeoning and ever-expanding SRI market-place. This includes extending SRI processes and criteria to other asset classes and financing SRI research and development. 
To help it achieve its ambitions, AG2R AGICAM thus initiated the following practical applications: 
  • Increased the potential of EthiScreening, a proprietary tool based on the algorithm processing of non-financial data from agencies that AG2R AGI¬CAM subscribes to. This now involves a rich meth¬odology exploiting four themes, 14 main criteria and 38 sub-criteria which are integrated with the tools to enable pension funds to structure and position their SRI-managed portfolios and measure the degree of SRI/ESG criteria and principles they contain. 
  • Continued the expansion of its SRI bond portfolios by issuing or redesigning mandates to incorporate socially responsible investment criteria conforming to the values of the SRI/ESG sector covering solidarity, proximity, democratic governance and social responsibility. The scheme additionally now uses a unique universe and invest¬ment approach covering sovereign debt, credit and combined aggregates. Furthermore, AG2R AGICAM’s management philosophy is based on a positive approach to responsible investment centred on dialogue and the selection of the best European expertise in the innovative field of SRI bond man¬agement. In terms of engagement, it is also paving the way for ‘bond engagement dialogue’ to comple¬ment equity shareholder activism. 
  • Enhancing the process of selecting private equity funds with a committed capital of €134m. This regroups 41 funds in eight strategies using a filter to capture ESG funds that specifically claim to use a “Capital Citizen for Diversity” SRI approach.
These measures enhance AG2R AGICAM’s role as a major actor on the SRI stage, playing a leading role in the dissemination of SRI in Europe’s pension scheme industry. This is just a brief outline of the great effort Dutertre puts into his role. Overall, his work at AG2R AGICAM and elsewhere has propelled him to become one of Europe’s most respected sen¬ior pension fund figures and IPE was more than proud to honour him with the first ever Award for Pension Fund Personality of The Year. 
Judge’s comment:
"For many, it is his tireless dedication to the promotion of socially responsible investing at AG2R, which has been instrumental in the minirevolution in the way pension funds in France and Europe integrate environmental, social and governance factors into their investment portfolios in recent years, that underlines the fact he is the ideal candidate and indeed ideal first winner of this highly prestigious accolade”