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Our concept

Sustainable investment products are not a form of sponsoring! They are usually just as financially successful, if not more so, than their conventional counterparts. Not just you as an investor, but also society and the environment as a whole benefit from the sustainable qualities of your investment.
Our sustainable investment solutions are initially based on the same financial analysis and considerations as our classic investment products. Our sustainability assessment does not therefore replace tried and tested financial analysis procedures, but complements them and creates added value in the process.
Our investment decisions are based on four levels of analysis.
(1) Industry analysis All industries are classified on the basis of their environmental opportunities and risks.
(2) Company analysis Based on the findings of the industry analysis, the concrete behaviour of companies is scrutinised.
(3) Exclusion criteria Companies that  are involved in substantially problematic and therefore risky activities or business segments such as tobacco products, armaments, and nuclear energy
(4) Financial analysis Companies are assessed on the basis of financial criteria.

Sustainability analysis of companies

Our sustainability philosophy is based on risk analysis. What do we mean by that in practical terms? For Bank J. Safra Sarasin sustainable business practices are defined as those involving the provision of goods and services in a socially responsible way, using production methods that present minimal potential for conflict and that are careful with resources.
The risk considerations at the core of a company’s sustainability performance comprise three dimensions: the economy, the environment and society.
We assume that companies which pay attention to all three sustainability dimensions are more adept at tackling specific risks that arise in connection with their exposure to social, political or environmental factors. They therefore tend to be more forward-looking in their actions. A food manufacturer, for example, minimises the risk to his reputation by not uncritically favouring the cheapest suppliers, which could potentially make him vulnerable to a food scandal.
Environmental analysis...
... uses comprehensive sector-specific criteria to assess how environmentally friendly companies design their products and manufacturing processes. Here the entire life cycle of products is taken into account: from pre-production sourcing, through to production, use and disposal.
Social analysis...
… looks at how the management of a company shapes its relations with stakeholders who are vital for its long-term financial success: employees, investors, suppliers, investors, the general public and the government.
Avoiding outsized risks
Many industries or business segments which currently seem to be financially attractive are so heavily exposed to risks that they are excluded from Bank J. Safra Sarasin’s sustainability portfolios. For example, companies are ruled out if they earn more than five percent of their sales from the manufacture of the following products: nuclear power, weapons, chlorine and agrochemicals, tobacco, pornography and GMOs used in agriculture

Sustainability analysis methodology

Multi-facetted research provides a solid decision base
The Sarasin Sustainability-Matrix clearly shows the approach we use for sustainability analysis.
Sustainability Matrix
Industry sustainability on the X axis:
We look at the specific risks that the industry in question poses to people and the environment. Some of the questions we ask for every industry include, for example:
  • How high is resource consumption of the industry as a whole?
  • How high are emissions?
  • What are the potential conflicts of interest for that particular industry both inside the company (e.g. workers’ rights) and outside the company (e.g. product safety)?
This not only enables us to identify specific risks and opportunities for companies operating in a particular industry, but to compare different industries in relation to their risks.
Company sustainability on the Y axis:
Next we look at how companies actually manage the environmental and social risks for their specific industry compared with their peer group. Here too we analyse a multitude of facts and answer a series of questions to establish the rankings for all the companies we rate within an industry, such as:
  • How high is the company’s energy and material intensity?
  • Is the company committed to using renewable resources?
  • How does a company conduct its relations with suppliers, the general public and its workforce?
The result ranks the analysed companies within the industry they operate in.

Sustainability analysis of bonds

Those who would like to invest their money in assets less risky than equity will not be able to avoid bonds. Here as well we encounter a multitude of issuers; aside from companies there are territorial authorities (such as countries) and public institutions (e.g. World Bank, Council of Europe).
Countries are assessed across two dimensions. On the one hand we analyse the availability of resources, such as land and water, and on the other how efficiently a country transforms its available resources into goods and services, and ultimately into quality of life for its citizens.
Public institutions are analysed similarly to companies. To better capture these type of issuers we also look at how their mandates contribute to the environment and society.


Bank J. Safra Sarasin is a member of the European Sustainable and Responsible Investment Forum (EUROSIF), the industry body for SRI. In September 2003 EUROSIF published a transparency guideline. This is intended to allow potentially interested private investors to obtain as clear and as comprehensive a picture as possible of the quality of sustainable investment funds. The Bank has agreed to be bound by this guideline.
Transparent Logo
It has always been very important for Bank J. Safra Sarasin to provide investors and other interested parties with accurate and open information about its investment products, mirroring the high degree of transparency which our own analysts in the Sustainable Investment Research team demand of companies and institutions in their daily work.
For this reason, Bank J. Safra Sarasin has been one of the first providers of sustainability funds in Europe to commit to publishing information on its sustainable funds in accordance with the definitive version of EUROSIF’s transparency guidelines. A copy of these guidelines can be found on the Internet on the homepage of the Forum Nachhaltige Geldanlagen.