Responsible investment

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Our approach to responsible investment

Our advantage: open architecture

With its open architecture, NBI gives itself the flexibility to navigate the investment world by selecting and reviewing portfolio managers with the highest standards in responsible investing.

OP4+: our rigorous process

The selection and ongoing review of portfolio managers is based on our OP4+ governance process, which assesses the organization, people, process, portfolio, performance and integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria.

A diverse range of sustainable solutions

In addition to ESG integration, our responsible investment solutions offer approaches aligned with the resolution of global issues.

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98% of NBI's assets under management are managed by signatories to the Principles for Responsible Investment

The framework of our responsible investment strategies

As stewards of vast financial resources, asset managers can be powerful agents of change. The adoption of responsible investment approaches serves as a lever for them to help transition towards a more sustainable and inclusive economy. 

Here are some of the responsible investment approaches used by portfolio manager partners in our open architecture, when applicable. Those approaches can be used alone or in combination for the same product.

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ESG integration

Integrate ESG criteria into the investment process.

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Exclusions / negative screening

Exclude companies, sectors, or countries based on ethical or moral criteria.

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Shareholder engagement

Influence issuers’ ESG practices through voting rights, shareholder proposals and dialogue.

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Best-in-class / Positive screening

Invest in issuers that demonstrate better ESG performance compared to their peers or a benchmark.

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Target investments meeting themes related to ESG criteria.

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Invest with the intention of achieving measurable positive social and environmental impact, in addition to a financial return.

Discover our sustainable solutions

We offer sustainable mutual funds and ETFs in several asset classes to meet the different investment needs of investors.

Our ambitions for responsible investment

NBI is committed to being an actor of change towards a more sustainable finance. This vision is defined in three ways.

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Share our expertise to raise the level of knowledge and conversations about responsible investing.

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Exercise influential leadership to mobilize our partners, clients, and the financial community to accelerate the transition towards more sustainable finance.

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Meet the need and appetite of Canadian investors to invest sustainably by offering investment solutions contributing to the resolution of ESG issues.

Our commitments towards a more sustainable finance

NBI is an active member of the sustainable finance community, through several initiatives and commitments.

Our publications

Report on Responsible Investment Advances 2023

NBI Responsible Investment Policy

Integrating ESG Factors into the OP4+ Process

Frequently asked questions

Certain NBI Funds and ETFs may invest in securities related to fossil fuels. We believe that immediately and unilaterally excluding all these companies would not be to the advantage of investors or the people who still depend on these companies for their livelihood.

We believe in support and dialogue, and we ensure that these companies have solid plans to face the energy transition.

This approach is also recognized by several experts as being the most effective for decarbonizing the economy, not just your portfolio.

Discover Net Zero Asset Managers.

Responsible investment has many advantages: better risk management (environmental, social, governance) can contribute to improving financial performance, and can contribute to positive social and environmental changes.

Here are some of the findings of a meta study based on data from more than 1,000 studies published between 2015 and 2020 on the performance of ESG investing.

  • ESG-driven improvements in financial performance become more pronounced over the longer term.
  • ESG investment seems to offer protection against bear markets, particularly in the event of social or economic crisis.

Investing in a low-carbon future improves financial performance.

Study available here

By integrating ESG criteria, responsible investors seek to invest in companies that adopt sustainable practices, have good risk management and are well positioned to prosper in the long term. This may include companies that adopt policies to reduce carbon emissions, promote diversity and inclusion, have policies to protect human rights, and so on.

In the short term, finding the means to implement sustainable practices may require significant initial investment. For example, a company may need to invest in clean technologies or change its production processes to reduce its carbon footprint.

Numerous studies have shown that companies that adopt sustainable practices and incorporate ESG criteria into their business strategy tend to be more resilient, attract talent, manage risk more effectively and generate long-term value for shareholders.

Read the ESG and financial performance study for more information.

There are two types of climate risk that impact portfolios. Physical risks are the direct consequences of climate change (storms, floods, “sea-level” rise), while transition risks are linked to political policy, regulatory and technological changes aimed at achieving carbon emission reduction targets.

In other words, physical risks are linked to the climate, and transition risks are linked to human decisions. The financial consequences of physical risks are immediate, while transition risks have indirect consequences over the medium and long term. It is important to consider both types of risks for effective management of portfolio climate risks.

In March 2024, the Canadian Securities Administrators issued the revised Notice 81-334, which aims to improve the disclosure of investment funds in relation to criteria ESG. Despite notable advances to provide greater clarity on what constitutes a so-called “responsible” product, as with any investment product, it is important to carry out research before investing.

To know if a financial product is truly responsible and which approaches are favoured, you must consult the prospectuses. Information on the responsible investment approach should be included in the fund's investment objective or strategy.

It’s also essential to regularly update your knowledge to master the language and important themes in responsible investing.

At NBI, all our portfolio managers are selected and evaluated according to our OP4 + process, including their responsible investment practices. This is our way of ensuring we do business with partners who have high standards of “responsible” investment and avoiding greenwashing.

Yes, it is possible that some companies consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria primarily with the aim of generating good investor perception rather than through a commitment to sustainability and social responsibility.

These companies may use greenwashing or social washing practices to give the impression that they are engaged in responsible initiatives, without integrating these principles into their business operations. They may implement one-off initiatives or marketing campaigns that seem to respect ESG criteria, but do not necessarily reflect an actual strategy or a deep integration of ESG principles into their activities. Regardless, with the increasing standardization surrounding ESG data, it is becoming more complicated for companies to share untruthful information.

NBI portfolio managers can evaluate companies' ESG programs to detect possible questionable practices.

Some funds incorporating responsible investment strategies may have higher fees than traditional funds. But it is also possible to find them on the market with relatively low costs.

The important thing to remember is that the investor values ESG. According to recent research, they are willing to pay 20 basis points more per year for an investment in a fund with an ESG mandate compared to an identical mutual fund without an ESG mandate.

Source: Baker, Malcolm, Mark Egan, and Suproteem K. Sarkar. "How Do Investors Value ESG?" NBER Working Paper Series, No. 30708, December 2022. (Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 23-028, November 2022.)

The approaches that make up NBI's Sustainable solutions range from the integration of ESG criteria to seeking to achieve positive social and environmental impact.

For example, some use the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their investment process, while others prioritize net zero emissions goals.

Learn more on our Sustainable solutions.

Are you an advisor and would like to know more about responsible investment at NBI?

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Speak with our sales team

Take advantage of the expertise and personalized advice of our sales team, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET)

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Use our online form for more information or to ask us any questions.

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Need immediate help?

For operational support, call us Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (ET).


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National Bank Investments is a signatory of the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment, a member of Canada’s Responsible Investment Association, and a founding participant in the Climate Engagement Canada initiative.