Throughout our 35-year history, we have always aimed for excellence. 2018 has been no different. We successfully expanded our geographic footprint into two additional Frontier Emerging Markets (FEM), Nigeria and Bangladesh, effectively consolidating our position as the foremost provider of financial solutions for retail, high-net-worth and institutional clients across MENA and FEM.
On the sustainability front, this year we have chosen to highlight ‘partnership’, a concept which complements and enhances the Six Ps of our strategy: People, Products, Positioning, Presence, Profitability, and Public Responsibility. We believe that our ability to forge successful partnerships with a wide range of our stakeholders provides us with unique opportunities to contribute to the SDGs.
Our investors are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with many seeking investments that are not only profitable but also reflective of their particular values and ethics. Our journey to sustainability over the past eight years has provided us with a solid base that allows us to identify ESG-related value and risk. Beneficiaries are increasingly demanding transparency about where and how their money is being invested. In this respect, our award-winning research department is ideally placed to provide value-added in-depth research on governance, corruption and other factors that could raise risk profiles and have reputation-damaging repercussions. This is particularly critical in FEMs where information is not always available or reliable.
Our push into FEM in the last few years, together with our presence in Europe, the US and the Gulf, has also positioned us ideally to promote strategic partnership and investment, building both on our experience and our commitment to sustainability. 2018 marked another successful year for EFG Hermes’ signature conferences, with the One on One in Dubai, the London Conference and the Egypt Day Conference all boasting larger turnouts in terms of presenting companies and global investors. The conferences offer a rare opportunity for fund managers to gain insight on how increased transparency, tougher regulations and new technologies are reshaping FEM investments in 2018.
Investors, both individual and institutional, are exploring how to increase their contribution to the SDGs while continuing to seek opportunities for competitive financial returns. At EFG Hermes, our business lines have assembled a portfolio that includes initiatives that directly feed into the SDGs in areas ranging from education and clean energy to microfinance and technology.
On an internal level, we are exceedingly proud to share that in Q1 2019, we submitted our first report as signatories of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). We had originally planned to take advantage of the two-year reporting window for new signatories, but thanks to our accelerated ESG integration programme, we are one year ahead of schedule.
In 2018, the EFG Hermes Foundation for Social Development continued its successful partnership with central and local government entities, civil society, and the private sector and expanded its Naga’ El Fawal and El Deir Village Integrated Development Project to welcome new partners who have added both financing and know-how to the initiative.
As always, we are committed to protecting our employees, clients and their assets at all times and uphold the highest levels of transparency and accountability. In 2018, EFG Hermes maintained its ISO certification for its Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and articulated two new policies—human and labour rights and health and safety—to further enhance the safeguards we have in place for our employees’ wellbeing.
Over time, perceptions have evolved, and sustainable investing has moved into the mainstream. The private sector is now considered critical in addressing global sustainability challenges together with governments and civil society. We believe that the partnerships we have forged and continue to initiate can have a ripple effect, contributing to the health and prosperity of both business and society and helping to realize the SDGs.
I thank you for your continued support and invite you to consider our progress in this, our fifth annual Sustainability Report.
Group Chief Executive Officer