The Hirschel & Kramer (H&K) Responsible Investment Brand Index

Responsible Investment is not reflected in how Asset Managers convey their identity
mkInsights and thoughts from our Partner Markus Kramer on core branding principles with broad applicability for any marketer, communications professional or business leader. Views are subjective and our own. November 9th, 2018. © Brand Affairs AG.

Responsible Investment is not reflected in how Asset Managers convey their identity

Today there is an ever-growing demand for more responsible investment strategies from both institutional and individual investors. In recent years the popularity of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investments has risen substantially and is expected to continue doing so. The H&K Responsible Investment Brand Index, the first of its kind, has analysed all European Asset Managers ranked among the largest worldwide 400 managers with a view to validating whether good intent is also communicated at a meta-level through the brand. The index evaluates actual commitment against follow-through in brand architecture.




Distinguishing between genuine long-term commitment to sustainable investment in its larger sense and companies who just ride the hype for their own benefit is hard. The RIBI differentiates between two categories: “Commitment”, which refers to the commitment made towards responsible investment, and “Brand”, which analyses to what extent sustainable development lies at the heart of a company’s identity.

High level of commitment, low level of branding

Over three quarters of the companies analysed, (or 184 out 239) formally commit as responsible investors. Most frequently this is achieved by signing the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) promoted by the United Nations. In doing so, these companies are committed to positive evolution and progress in this sphere. “We are aware of some companies such as La Banque Postale Asset Management in France who made the announcement in April 2018 that all their assets will be managed according to responsible investment criteria by 2020” says Jean-François Hirschel, Co-Author of the H&K Responsible Investment Brand Index. “Candriam has pushed it to the ultimate level in branding by making responsibility part of its name (Conviction AND Responsibility IN Asset Management)“, adds Hirschel.

Missed opportunity to differentiate and convey a clear identity

Many Asset Managers still fail to articulate why they exist when evaluated against a socially relevant Purpose. The index revealed that only 13 companies have a clearly articulated purpose, of which only three truly connect to a greater societal impact. “A bit more thought in this space could propel many companies into the 21st century.  It’s not just about how the sector evolves, but how people think, communicate and act”, says Markus Kramer, partner at boutique brand consultancy Brand Affairs and author of “The Guiding Purpose Strategy, A navigational Code for Brand Growth.“

The authors of the Responsible Investment Brand Index therefore argue that leadership in Asset Management should make finding, articulating and communicating Purpose a strategic priority. “Especially in a world that is becoming increasingly transparent and competitive and where sustainability is on everyone’s lips, a clear definition of one’s own values and vision is the key to a successful Responsible Investment branding and long-term business success,” states Kramer.

“It’s not just about how the sector evolves, but how people think, communicate and act”

The Index

The H&K Responsible Investment Brand Index has been developed in order to find out which asset management companies act as responsible investors and commit to sustainable development to the extent that they put it at the very heart of who they are: i.e. their brand.

The index focuses on European headquartered Asset Managers.  It compounds the analysis of all European Asset Managers (239) listed in the Investment & Pensions Europe Top 400 ranking as of December 31st, 2017.

For more details on the methodology, please refer to the Web site


About the Authors

Jean-François Hirschel is the founder and CEO of H-IDEAS, a company which aims at re-establishing trust in the financial world. His professional expertise lies in strategically positioning financial services companies at brand and product level. Hirschel has held senior leadership positions at Société Générale and Unigestion. He holds a MSc from EPFL Lausanne, Switzerland, and has profound knowledge and experience in Institutional, Private and Retail Banking & Asset Management.

Markus Kramer is a partner at Brand Affairs, a specialist consultancy with expertise in strategic positioning and brand building. He holds an MBA from the University of Oxford and is a visiting Senior Fellow in Strategic Brand Management at Cass Business School London. Kramer is the author of the book The Guiding Purpose Strategy, A Navigational Code for Brand Growth.