The members of the Ethos Foundation and the shareholders of Ethos Services met in Bern on Thursday for their respective annual general meetings. All items on the agenda were approved and the current members of the two boards were all re-elected.

The 2024 annual general meetings of the Ethos Foundation and Ethos Services were held on Thursday 13 June in Bern. The members of the Foundation and the shareholders of Ethos Services approved all the items on the agenda. In particular, all members of the two boards were re-elected for a further year. The sustainability and climate report, which presents the measures taken by Ethos to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, was also put to the vote – on a voluntary basis – and was approved by all members and shareholders. The general meetings also approved the proposal to change auditors after 10 years with Deloitte, following a request to tender. BDO was elected and will be the new auditor for the accounts of the Ethos Foundation and Ethos Services from the 2024 financial year. Both the Foundation and Ethos Services voluntarily submit to an extended audit. 

As every year, this meeting provided an opportunity for the members of the Ethos Foundation and the shareholders of Ethos Services, most of whom are Swiss pension funds, to learn about and discuss current ESG issues. For this year’s meeting, Mr. Lukas Müller-Brunner, CEO of ASIP, presented the new ESG reporting standards for the members of his association. In particular, he explained why such reporting is now necessary and shared some practical feedback and experiences from ASIP members.

Two workshops were then offered alternately to the members of the Foundation and the shareholders of Ethos Services, with the common aim of raising awareness of the challenges of sustainable finance and socially responsible investment.

Eleanor Willi, founder and CEO of the Investor Impact Initiative, presented the results of a study published in March on how asset managers vote on climate and environmental issues at annual general meetings. Unsurprisingly, the study showed that there is all too often a significant gap between the preferences of asset owners, who are generally in favour of sustainability, and the votes cast on their behalf by asset managers. She took this opportunity to remind pension fund representatives that they can demand that their managers exercise their shareholder rights in accordance with their principles and preferences.

Ethos presents its new training programmes

The second workshop was led by Cecile Biccari, who joined the Ethos Foundation at the beginning of the year as Senior Manager Investor Education. She presented the new training modules on to sustainable finance that Ethos will soon be launching, as well as the online platform on which they will be available. While these training courses are aimed in particular at pension funds representatives (board of trustees, management, etc.), they will also be open to anyone who would like to acquire the knowledge they need to invest more sustainably and responsibly, whether they are active in the finance industry or not.

These courses are in line with the Foundation's objectives of raising awareness and promoting the principles of sustainable development and good governance in investment activities. The first modules, dedicated to the fundamentals of sustainability and the fiduciary responsibility of institutional investors, will be available from the beginning of the second half of 2024, while the following three modules, dedicated to regulation, active ownership and investment decisions, will be launched in the fourth quarter.

To learn more about sustainable finance, and in particular the need for active ownership and stewardship, you can listen to the series of podcasts produced by NousProd with the support of the Ethos Foundation in French or in German.