Created in 1997 to promote socially responsible investment among Swiss pension funds, the Ethos Foundation recently welcomed its 249th and 250th members. Together, the 250 members of the Ethos Foundation manage assets totaling over CHF 355 billion and have almost two million insured members.
In recent weeks, the Ethos Foundation has welcomed its 249th and 250th members. At the end of 2022, there were 245 members, compared with 232 a year earlier. However, this increase comes against a backdrop of consolidation and the disappearance of a large number of small pension funds in recent years. According to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office, there were 1’389 pension funds (public and private) in 2021, compared with 2’191 in 2011, a fall of 37% in ten years.
The Ethos Foundation was set up in 1997 by two Geneva pension funds: one public, the pension fund for teachers in the public education system and civil servants in the administration of the canton of Geneva (CPEG), and the other private, the joint pension fund for the Geneva construction industry (CPPIC). Its aims, which are set out in its Charter, are to encourage the principles of sustainable development and good governance to be taken into account in investment activities, and to promote a stable and prosperous socio-economic environment for the benefit of present and future civil society as a whole.
One third of the Swiss second pillar
At the end of its first year of activity, the Ethos Foundation had 25 members. It reached 100 members in 2010 and 200 members in 2015. Today, it has 250 members who serve some two million people and manage total assets of around CHF 355 billion, representing around one-third of the second pillar in Switzerland.
To help pension funds invest the pensions of their insured in a sustainable and responsible manner, the Ethos Foundation has developed its activities over the years and, in 2000, created the company Ethos Services. Today, Ethos Services provides four types of services: analyses of agenda items at general meetings of listed companies and voting recommendations based on the principles of good governance; shareholder dialogue programmes with Swiss and foreign companies; sustainable funds and stock market indices; and sustainability analyses of listed companies. Ethos added to its range of services this year by launching a new methodology for analysing the climate impact of companies and institutional investors' investments.
The Ethos Foundation also offers training modules on sustainability and socially responsible investment to members of foundation boards, management boards and investment committees of pension funds.