oekom research AG

Company mission

oekom research is one of the world’s leading rating agencies in the field of sustainable investment. The agency analyses companies and countries with regard to their environmental and social performance. oekom research has extensive experience as a partner to institutional investors and financial service providers, identifying issuers of securities and bonds which are distinguished by their responsible management of social and environmental issues. Together with our clients, we draw up individual investment plans for successful sustainable investment. The high quality of our research forms a reliable basis for this and enables our clients to make use of the opportunities offered by the market.

Legal form

Aktiengesellschaft (similar to PLC)

Ownership

oekom research AG’s shareholders consist primarily of private investors (holding approx. 90 per cent of shares) together with a small group of institutional investors.

Foundation

1993

Executive Board

Robert Haßler and Matthias Bönning

Number/qualification of employees

The interdisciplinary team of oekom research consists of 64 persons, of whom 48 are analysts, including six analysts at GES, our strategic marketing and research partner. The employees have various academic qualifications, with many years of experience in the field of sustainability rating and sustainable investment between them.

Advisory Board/Council

oekom research has an 9-member advisory board which the company regularly consults on methodological issues.

Cooperations/Memberships

oekom research has formed strategic partnerships with

  • GES
  • Sustainable Investment Partners (SI Partners)

oekom research is a member of

  • ARISE
  • Corporate Responsibility Interface Center - CRIC
  • European Social Investment Forum - Eurosif
  • Forum Nachhaltige Geldanlagen – FNG
  • Forum pour l'Investissement Responsable - FIR
  • Principles for Responsible Investment - PRI
  • UK Social Investment Forum - UKSIF

oekom research collaborates with

  • Bundesverband Deutscher Stiftungen (Association of German Foundations)
  • Carbon Disclosure Project – CDP
  • Deutsche Performancemessungs-Gesellschaft für Wertpapierportfolios – DPG
  • European Business & Biodiversity Campaign
  • Global Reporting Initiative - GRI
  • Katholische Sozialakademie Österreichs - KSOE

oekom research also collaborates with many universities and institutions in research and teaching projects

 

Background

oekom research has been involved in the environmental evaluation of companies since 1993. In 1994 the company won an international tender, which marked the start of a four-year project with the Austrian Öko-Invest publishing house. At the end of the 1990s, following a collaborative project with Professors Hoffmann and Scherhorn (the authors of the Frankfurt-Hohenheim Guidelines), the rating approach was broadened to include a social dimension. In 1999, the company was awarded the “Münchner Umweltpreis” (environmental prize awarded by the city of Munich), and in 2009 oekom research was nominated for the “Deutsche Nachhaltigkeitspreis” (German Sustainability Award) in the “Germany’s most sustainable financial service provider” category. The rating agency’s research is used by numerous mutual and restricted funds. We provide research for assets totalling more than 600 billion euros (as of June 2014).

Research

oekom Universe
In order to be able to provide our clients with as large as possible a universe of companies which are performing well in terms of sustainability and thereby to provide you with a comprehensive basis on which to organize your sustainable capital investment and investment products, our analysts regularly evaluate around 3,400 companies. In the process, we provide coverage of important national and international indices.

The oekom Universe additionally comprises sustainability leaders outside these indices as well as small & mid caps drawn from sectors with links to sustainability (e.g. renewable energies, recycling, water treatment) and significant non-listed bond issuers.

These companies are evaluated, in a detailled best in class rating, against an average of 100 social and environmental criteria. Furthermore, oekom research carries out a comprehensive negative screening in a great number of controversial business fields and practices for each company.

The currently around 550 companies holding oekom research’s prime status form the oekom Prime Universe.

Rating Procedure
In order to build up a comprehensive picture of each company, our analysts collect information relevant to the rating both from the companies being analysed and from independent experts. The work of oekom research’s analysts is supported by a network of international experts from the fields of sustainability, human rights, employment rights and consumer protection. The ratings are therefore based on the following sources:

  • Evaluation of company documentation such as annual and sustainability reports
  • Interviews with company representatives
  • Media screening
  • Interviews with independent experts
  • Assessments from independent specialists from NGOs, governmental and public institutions, business associations, research institutes, consumer protection groups etc. analyse companies, oekom research has developed a two-stage model: In the first stage (oekom Corporate Scouting), all the companies included in the oekom Universe are subjected to screening on the basis of publicly available information. This screening procedure serves to identify companies which have the potential to achieve oekom Prime Status or at least to come close to doing so. 

These companies are pooled together in the oekom Rating Universe and, in a second step, are evaluated, in the oekom Corporate Rating process, against an average of 100 social and environmental criteria. The results are documented in comprehensive rating reports. The oekom Rating Universe currently comprises around 1,100 comp

For companies which exhibit shortcomings in terms of their social and environmental performance or which create little or no transparency in this regard, a soundly-based assessment of their social and environmental performances is carried out in the form of an estimated rating based on publicly available data. The results are documented in scouting reports. This oekom Scouting Universe currently comprises around 2,000 companies.
The companies holding oekom research’s prime status (which currently number around 550) form the oekom Prime Universe.

Rating Procedure
In order to build up a comprehensive picture of each company, our analysts collect information relevant to the rating both from the companies being analysed and from independent experts. The work of oekom research’s analysts is supported by a network of international experts from the fields of sustainability, human rights, employment rights and consumer protection. The ratings are therefore based on the following sources:
- Evaluation of company documentation such as annual and sustainability reports
- Interviews with company representatives
- Media screening
- Interviews with independent experts
- Assessments from independent specialists from NGOs, governmental and public institutions, business associations, research institutes, consumer protection groups etc.oekom Universe
In order to be able to provide our clients with as large as possible a universe of companies which are performing well in terms of sustainability and thereby to provide you with a comprehensive basis on which to organize your sustainable capital investment and investment products, our analysts regularly evaluate around 3,100 companies. In the process, we provide complete coverage of international indices such as the Stoxx 600, the MSCI World and the MSCI Emerging Markets as well as numerous national indices such as, for example, the DAX family, the ATX, the SMI and the CAC40. The oekom Universe additionally comprises sustainability leaders outside these indices as well as small & mid caps drawn from sectors with links to sustainability (e.g. renewable energies, recycling, water treatment) and significant non-listed bond issuers.

To analyse companies, oekom research has developed a two-stage model: In the first stage (oekom Corporate Scouting), all the companies included in the oekom Universe are subjected to screening on the basis of publicly available information. This screening procedure serves to identify companies which have the potential to achieve oekom Prime Status or at least to come close to doing so. 

These companies are pooled together in the oekom Rating Universe and, in a second step, are evaluated, in the oekom Corporate Rating process, against an average of 100 social and environmental criteria. The results are documented in comprehensive rating reports. The oekom Rating Universe currently comprises around 1,100 companies.

For companies which exhibit shortcomings in terms of their social and environmental performance or which create little or no transparency in this regard, a soundly-based assessment of their social and environmental performances is carried out in the form of an estimated rating based on publicly available data. The results are documented in scouting reports. This oekom Scouting Universe currently comprises around 2,000 companies.
The companies holding oekom research’s prime status (which currently number around 550) form the oekom Prime Universe.

Rating Procedure
In order to build up a comprehensive picture of each company, our analysts collect information relevant to the rating both from the companies being analysed and from independent experts. The work of oekom research’s analysts is supported by a network of international experts from the fields of sustainability, human rights, employment rights and consumer protection. The ratings are therefore based on the following sources:
- Evaluation of company documentation such as annual and sustainability reports
- Interviews with company representatives
- Media screening
- Interviews with independent experts
- Assessments from independent specialists from NGOs, governmental and public institutions, business associations, research institutes, consumer protection groups etc.

oekom Universe
In order to be able to provide our clients with as large as possible a universe of companies which are performing well in terms of sustainability and thereby to provide you with a comprehensive basis on which to organize your sustainable capital investment and investment products, our analysts regularly evaluate around 3,100 companies. In the process, we provide complete coverage of international indices such as the Stoxx 600, the MSCI World and the MSCI Emerging Markets as well as numerous national indices such as, for example, the DAX family, the ATX, the SMI and the CAC40. The oekom Universe additionally comprises sustainability leaders outside these indices as well as small & mid caps drawn from sectors with links to sustainability (e.g. renewable energies, recycling, water treatment) and significant non-listed bond issuers.

To analyse companies, oekom research has developed a two-stage model: In the first stage (oekom Corporate Scouting), all the companies included in the oekom Universe are subjected to screening on the basis of publicly available information. This screening procedure serves to identify companies which have the potential to achieve oekom Prime Status or at least to come close to doing so.  

These companies are pooled together in the oekom Rating Universe and, in a second step, are evaluated, in the oekom Corporate Rating process, against an average of 100 social and environmental criteria. The results are documented in comprehensive rating reports. The oekom Rating Universe currently comprises around 1,100 companies.

For companies which exhibit shortcomings in terms of their social and environmental performance or which create little or no transparency in this regard, a soundly-based assessment of their social and environmental performances is carried out in the form of an estimated rating based on publicly available data. The results are documented in scouting reports. This oekom Scouting Universe currently comprises around 2,000 companies.
The companies holding oekom research’s prime status (which currently number around 550) form the oekom Prime Universe.

Rating Procedure
In order to build up a comprehensive picture of each company, our analysts collect information relevant to the rating both from the companies being analysed and from independent experts. The work of oekom research’s analysts is supported by a network of international experts from the fields of sustainability, human rights, employment rights and consumer protection. The ratings are therefore based on the following sources:
- Evaluation of company documentation such as annual and sustainability reports
- Interviews with company representatives
- Media screening
- Interviews with independent experts
- Assessments from independent specialists from NGOs, governmental and public institutions, business associations, research institutes, consumer protection groups etc.
 

Criteria

The oekom Corporate Rating is based on the world's most comprehensive set of criteria for ethical The oekom Corporate Rating assesses companies' responsibility towards:

  • persons affected by corporate activities (social sustainability)
  • the natural environment (environmental sustainability)
In order to be able to analyse comprehensively the diverse environmental and social challenges relating to the activities of companies, oekom research AG has developed a pool of indicators. These currently number approximately 700. For each company, an average of 100 indicators are selected from this pool on an industry-specific basis so that a targeted evaluation of the problems specific to that company can be carried out. The criteria cover six areas:

Social Rating

  • Staff and Suppliers
  • Society and Product Responsibility
  • Corporate Governance and Business Ethics

Environmental Rating

  • Environmental Management
  • Products and Services
  • Eco-Efficiency

 

Ranking-/Rating-System

The social and environmental impacts of industries differ. Therefore, subject to its relevance, each industry analysed is classified in a Sustainability Matrix. Depending on this classification, the two components of the Corporate Rating, i.e. the Social Rating and the Environmental Rating, are weighted. The overall analysis is graded on a twelve-point scale from A+ (highest score) to D-. oekom research awards Prime Status to those companies which according to the oekom Corporate Rating are among the leaders in their industry and which meet industry-specific minimum requirements. Here, oekom research follows an absolute best-in-class approach,

oekom Country Rating
Back in 2001, oekom research developed its country rating which uses uses around 100 individual criteria to evaluate countries’ sustainability-related efficiency. It provides a detailed assessment of 57 countries according to 100 social and environmental criteria (BRICS, EU, OECD and major Asian and South American countries.

 

Quality Management

oekom research sees the provision of high-quality products and services as a fundamental part of its business activity. This requires a structured approach to integrating quality aspects into all relevant activities and internal departments. To this end we have introduced a comprehensive quality management system (QMS), which should help us in our continuous efforts to optimise client benefit and satisfaction. Furthermore, oekom research is audited regularly by an independent institution against the European voluntary quality standard for responsible investment ARISTA®.

Launched by ARISE, the Association for Responsible Investment Services, the voluntary quality standard ARISTA® has been developed to drive high quality research and analysis for organisations in the field.

The assessment and auditing process of the Voluntary Quality Standard requires research groups to: 

  • focus on continuous quality improvements and develop an action plan to drive quality across all research areas
  • develop and implement best practice and codes of conduct to ensure independence, integrity, probity, transparency and accountability within each research group as well as in the research process
  • ensure the robustness of each group’s research processes and embed continuous monitoring of quality in their work
  • reassure clients and other stakeholders that research groups ‘do what they say they do’
  • publish an externally verified Transparency Matrix that reveals the data necessary to reinforce trust and confidence in each research group’s methodology

oekom research is one of the first rating agencies to have been certified against this standard.

Products & services

We offer individually tailored consultancy services and investment products, based on our research, for investment companies, banks, insurance companies and other institutional investors:

Strategic consulting
We will work closely with our clients to draw up a made-to-measure sustainability concept for their investment or investment product. The most important elements in this process are defining the best-in-class approach and selecting appropriate exclusion criteria.

Investment universes
With equities and bonds, implementation of a sustainable investment strategy principally involves the selection of suitable securities for a own portfolio or sustainable investment product. We can compile a suitable investment universe for our clients, whether they choose to base this on a sustainability concept using positive and/or negative criteria or on particular regions or issues.

ORBIT database
Our databases provide you with fast, comprehensive access to our ratings and analyses. ORBIT, our oekom Responsibility Benchmarking & Information Tool, makes the ratings of companies and countries transparent and makes it possible to compare countries’ sustainability performance at all levels of the rating. The Controversy Monitor (OCM) covers approx. 3,400 companies worldwide and records and describes the major controversies involving them. The Controversial Weapons Monitor (CWM) covers more than 250 companies worldwide which are involved in the production of controversial and/or banned weapons.

The ORBIT Alerts Archive contains all the reports which oekom research sends out each month, as part of its Alerts Service, exclusively to its clients. Via the ORBIT Download Centre, reports on all the 3,400 companies and 57 countries evaluated by oekom research can be downloaded in PDF format. 

Responsibility reports
The social and environmental performance of the world’s most important companies and countries is compiled in various responsibility reports. Our analyses provide investors with a basis for their investment decisions and provide companies with a valuable benchmark. Consultants and NGOs use our studies to support their work with soundly-based information.

ESG Portfolio Check
The ESG Portfolio Check comprises the analysis of existing portfolios with regard to their quality in terms of sustainability. Exclusionary criteria specified by the client, together with the best-in-class approach, form the basis for this analysis. The results of the check are documented in a detailed report.

Engagement Services
To provide support for professional engagement, oekom research is collaborating with specialist service provider GES from Sweden. The investor is updated on the process development in real time via the GES Engagement Forum, a transparent web-based interface and a collaborative tool for a long-term active ownership process. Furthermore, the oekom Engagement Compass offers you comprehensive support for formulating and
implementing your engagement strategy.

Risk analyses
The risk analyses extend oekom research’s product range into the areas of risk management and reputational risk management. Our analyses will assist to identify risks which social and environment-related factors may give rise to. This will form the basis for the proactive management of risks in any financial or investment decision our clients take.

Clients

More than 100 clients currently rely on oekom research’s sustainability ratings in their product design or their investment decisions. Our analyses are used by numerous mutual and restricted funds and in the wealth management services of well-known providers. oekom research’s analyses currently influence the management of assets valued at over 600 billion euros (as of June 2014).

The profile was last updated in July 2014.

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