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Hirschel and Kramer (H&K) Responsible Investment Brand Index™ 2021

Jean-François Hirschel and Markus Kramer


Asset managers must emphasise their role in the construction of a safer and fairer future.


  • The 2021 Hirschel & Kramer Responsible Investment Brand Index (RIBI™) expands its universe of evaluated companies to 500+ asset managers globally.
  • While industry players overall are making great strides embedding ESG not just into their products, but also into their brands, the disparity across regions is worrying.
  • Nearly half of all asset managers express a reason for being (‘Purpose’), but few do so succinctly and less than one in four link it to advancing society.

The Hirschel & Kramer Responsible Investment Brand Index (RIBI™) evaluates the asset management industry on its ability to translate commitment to sustainable development into each asset manager’s core brand and offers unique insights not available elsewhere.


A widening gap: incorporating ESG into strategy and expressing it through the brand varies greatly.

At first glance, the 2021 results indicate a ‘one step forward, two steps back’ dynamic for the industry, with the top level RIBI dimensions reversing quite significantly. (Commitment: 1.84 vs 2.19 last year; Brand 1.59 vs 1.72. Both ratings work on a 5-point scale, with 5 representing the best score). The top category remains fiercely competitive, with only one manager out of six making it into the Avant-Gardists camp.


RIBI™: Category Ranking


However, the emerging picture is a lot more nuanced and offers more than a glimmer of hope, with Europe leading the way. For example, the number of European managers linking their core reason for existing (Purpose) is much more often anchored in how this links to a value system that drives organisational culture – and advances society. Already a quarter of European managers also link their Purpose to such noble ambitions, up nearly 6% from last year (19%). This is in stark contrast to the North American region, where an equal number of companies (nearly half) state a Purpose, but less than two in 10 managers (17%) have made the link to connecting their ambitions to societal goals. Given this is the largest region in terms of both the number of players as well as total Assets under Management, this is concerning.


“The understanding of the critical role Purpose plays in an increasingly complex and accelerated, inter-connected world is not equally present across regions. Purpose acts as a unifying force, aligning belief and value systems within organisations and consequently catalyses consistency and growth from within,”
Markus Kramer, Co-Founder of the Responsible Investment Brand Index, partner at boutique brand consultancy Brand Affairs and author of The Guiding Purpose Strategy, A Navigational Code for Growth


Different regions, different speeds.


RIBI™: Relative Region Ratings

It is important to note that all companies in the global top 10 are European, highlighting a broader trend. Five of the top-10 asset managers in this category have managed to retain their top-ranking positions for the past four years (Federated Hermes International, AXA Investment Managers, Candriam, DPAM and Mirova)


Top-10 companies achieving the best overall scores in 2021


  1. Federated Hermes International
  2. AXA Investment Managers
  3. Schroders*
  4. Candriam
  5. NN Investment Partners*
  6. DPAM
  7. Mirova
  8. Etica SGR
  9. BNP Paribas Asset Management
  10. Sycomore Asset Management

Companies with a * are new entrants in the Global 2021 RIBI Top-10


“While we do observe a divide within RIBI across the global regions, the main challenge the financial industry needs to address is its reputation – the need to establish long-term, trusted and mutually profitable relationships with multiple stakeholders. Asset managers are increasingly in the spotlight and focussing on the connection between the financial industry and its societal responsibility through a genuinely expressed brand is a powerful way to achieve this.”
Jean-François Hirschel, Co-Founder of the Responsible Investment Brand Index, and CEO and Founder of H-Ideas, a company specialised in strategy and positioning in the financial industry


2021 enhancements to the index include an expanded universe of 500+ evaluated asset managers globally, allowing for much greater granularity for companies to benchmark themselves as well as for asset owners to use RIBI™ more actively in their due diligence work when evaluating asset managers. The full 2021 Responsible Investment Brand Index, methodology and further information is available at www.ri-brandindex.org. Regional level and country-level Top-10 can also be found in the RIBI 2021 report which can be downloaded from this site.


About the Index

The H&K Responsible Investment Brand Index (RIBI TM ) has been developed to identify 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, ie in their brand. It aggregates the analysis of all 539 asset managers listed in the Investment & Pensions Europe Journal Top 500 ranking as of December 31, 2020. For a detailed description of the methodology, please refer to the website www.ri-brandindex.org or the RIBI report.

About the Authors

Jean-François Hirschel
is the founder and CEO of H-IDEAS, a company which focuses on 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 Paribas, 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 Bayes (formerly Cass) Business School London. Kramer is author of the book The Guiding Purpose Strategy, A Navigational Code for Brand Growth.

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