An investment fund must include, in its MRFP, a summary of the results of operations of the investment fund for the financial year to which the MRFP pertains, including a discussion of how the composition and changes to the composition of the investment portfolio relate to the fund’s fundamental investment objective and strategies. [FN 32] Staff note, however, that funds are only required to disclose information that is material. [FN 33]
Continuous disclosure, including the MRFP, enables investors to monitor a fund’s performance and evaluate its ability to meet its objectives on an ongoing basis. For funds that have ESG-related investment objectives, continuous disclosure can help prevent greenwashing by allowing investors to monitor the fund’s ESG performance and therefore evaluate the fund’s progress in terms of meeting its ESG-related investment objectives.
An ESG-Related Fund is required to disclose in its MRFP how the composition and changes to the composition of the investment portfolio relate to the fund’s ESG-related investment objectives and/or strategies. For example, if a fund that excludes companies that have had severe ESG-related controversies divests of its holdings in a company because the company has recently had a harassment scandal that is deemed by the fund to be a severe ESG-related controversy, the fund should disclose its divestment and the reason for the divestment in the MRFP. Another example would be a fund that uses a best-in-class strategy that has divested its holdings in a company that no longer meets the fund’s criteria. In addition to divestment, a fund may also choose to increase or decrease its holdings in a company in order to meet the fund’s ESG-related investment objectives and this should be disclosed.
Funds with ESG-related investment objectives, unlike other types of funds, typically aim to achieve ESG-related outcomes in addition to financial performance. In order to provide investors with meaningful disclosure about those ESG-related outcomes, staff encourage funds that have ESG-related investment objectives to disclose, as part of the summary of the results of the fund’s operations in the MRFP, the ESG-related aspects of those operations. This would include the fund’s progress or status with regard to meeting its ESG-related investment objectives. For example, in the case of a fund whose investment objectives state that the fund will invest in companies that contribute to the fight against climate change, investors would benefit from continuous disclosure that explains which companies the fund has invested in during the relevant period and how they have contributed to the fight against climate change.
In addition, staff encourage funds that intend to generate a measurable ESG outcome to report in their MRFPs on whether the fund is achieving that outcome. For example, where a fund’s investment objectives refer to the reduction of carbon emissions, investors would benefit from disclosure in the fund’s MRFP that includes the quantitative key performance indicators for carbon emissions.
Staff acknowledge that websites and non-regulatory documents are being increasingly used to provide ongoing information about the ESG performance and metrics of funds, as well as other ESG-related information. In addition to the required disclosure in the MRFP, staff encourage funds to provide investors with additional periodic information on how they are meeting their ESG-related investment objectives. We remind funds that websites and such non-regulatory documents are considered sales communications under National Instrument 81-102 Investment Funds (NI 81-102), which are discussed further below under “Sales communications”.
In order to be able to provide useful disclosure about the fund’s progress or status with regard to meeting its ESG-related investment objectives, staff encourage IFMs to regularly assess, measure and monitor the ESG performance of the funds that they manage.
FN 32 Items 2.3(1) of Part B and 2.1 of Part C of Form 81-106F1 Contents of Annual and Interim Management Report of Fund Performance (Form 81-106F1).
FN 33 Item 1(d) of Part A of Form 81-106F1.