In This List

FAQ: S&P IPSA ESG Tilted Index

InsuranceTalks: Participating and Protecting Using Dividends

TalkingPoints: The S&P New China Sectors Index: Accessing the Growth Drivers of the “New China” Economy

FAQ: S&P DJI’s Approach to the EU Low Carbon Benchmark Regulation Disclosure Requirements

FAQ: EU Low Carbon Benchmark Regulation

FAQ: S&P IPSA ESG Tilted Index

COMPANY BACKGROUND

  1. Who is S&P Dow Jones Indices?  S&P Dow Jones Indices (S&P DJI) is home to iconic financial market indicators, such as the S&P 500® and the Dow Jones Industrial Average®. The largest global resource for essential index-based market concepts, data, and research, it is a major investor resource to measure and trade the markets.

    S&P Dow Jones Indices has been a pioneer in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) indexing for 20 years, starting with the 1999 launch of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. Today, we offer an extensive range of indices to fit varying risk/return and ESG expectations, from core ESG and low-carbon climate approaches, to thematic and fixed income ESG strategies.

  2. Who is SAM?  SAM, was founded in 1995 and has been a partner of the S&P Dow Jones Indices since 1999, when they worked together to launch the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) Series. SAM provides ESG Research and Benchmarking and conducts the annual SAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA). SAM was formerly a part of asset mananger RobescoSAM. In January 2020, it became a part of S&P Global.

S&P IPSA ESG TILTED INDEX

  1. What is the S&P IPSA ESG Tilted Index? The S&P IPSA ESG Tilted Index is designed to measure the performance of eligible securities in the S&P IPSA that meet sustainability criteria, while attempting to improve the overall S&P DJI ESG Score with respect to the S&P IPSA by overweighting or underweighting ("tilting") companies based on their S&P DJI ESG Scores.
  2. What are the S&P DJI ESG Scores? S&P DJI ESG Scores are environmental, social, and governance scores that robustly measure ESG risk and performance factors for corporations, with a focus on financial materiality. The S&P DJI ESG Scores are used in the constituent weighting process in the S&P IPSA ESG Tilted Index. They are a second set of ESG scores calculated by SAM, in addition to the S&P Global ESG Scores (formerly known as SAM ESG Scores) that are used to define the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices constituents.

    The S&P DJI ESG Scores are the result of some further scoring methodology refinements to the S&P Global ESG Scores. They are based on SAM’s annual Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA), a bottom-up research process that aggregates underlying company ESG data to score levels. The scores contain a total company-level ESG score for a financial year, comprising individual environmental (E), social (S), and governance (G) dimension scores, beneath which there are on average 21 industry-specific criteria scores that can be used as specific ESG signals (see Exhibit 1).

  3. faq-spdji-esg-scores-exhibit-1

    A company’s total ESG score is the weighted average of all criteria scores and their respective weights. Each individual ESG dimension score (e.g., a company’s “E” score) is the weighted average of all criteria scores and weights within a specific ESG dimension. Total ESG scores range from 0-100, with 100 representing best performance.

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InsuranceTalks: Participating and Protecting Using Dividends

Insurance Talks is an interview series where insurance industry thinkers share their thoughts and perspectives on a variety of market trends and themes impacting indexing.

Joyana Pilquist, CFA is Vice President, Head of Derivatives at American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company.

S&P DJI: What is your role at American Equity, and how do you serve the insurance space?

Joyana: I am Vice President and Head of Derivatives at American Equity. My team and I hedge the embedded derivatives in our fixed index annuity liabilities for American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company and Eagle Life Insurance Company.

S&P DJI: What considerations are top of mind as you and your team are considering what index will be at the center of a fixed index annuity (FIA)?

Joyana: The most immediate consideration when contemplating a new index is whether we think the index design and objectives can help us potentially create higher risk-adjusted and stable returns for our policyholders over the long term, while still maintaining option costs. Renewal rate integrity is something that American Equity has always deemed an essential business philosophy, so stabilizing costs to hedge policyholder returns is important. It is also important to us that the index be reliable and understood with relative ease. It must fill a gap in the policyholders’ ability to potentially increase account values in different economic regimes.

S&P DJI: Earlier in 2020, we saw periods of extreme volatility and sharp declines in the market. How do you try to plan for and protect against these conditions as you’re developing new FIAs?

Joyana: Selecting the right type of index is an important part of our plan. We’ve found risk control indices to be an effective tool in mitigating the effects of extreme volatility and sharp market downturns in an investment portfolio. Volatility tends to increase as the market decreases. The risk control mechanism decreases the allocation to the underlying index as volatility increases and, therefore, mitigates its effects on the overall index. This, in turn, tends to lessen sharp declines in the risk control index compared to indices without the risk control mechanism.

S&P DJI: American Equity uses the S&P 500® Dividend Aristocrats® Daily Risk Control 5% Index within one of its FIAs. What characteristics did this index have that made it well suited for use within an FIA?

Joyana: We added the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Daily Risk Control 5% Index to our index offerings back in 2014. The index was simple to understand with two components (equity and cash). We appreciated how the underlying index, the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats, which represents the equity component, was a proven index with a demonstrated track record for performance. The companies that make up the underlying index are all highly rated (investment grade), large (at least USD 3 billion market cap), diversified across market sectors, and have a long history (25 years minimum) of paying and increasing dividends. It was expected that, as more of the baby boom generation retires, demand for dividend-paying stocks would increase and, historically, those stocks have provided some downside protection in volatile markets. These reasons, along with the addition of the risk control mechanism, make the index attractive for our use.

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TalkingPoints: The S&P New China Sectors Index: Accessing the Growth Drivers of the “New China” Economy

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Michael Orzano

Senior Director, Global Equity Indices

Take a look at how the S&P New China Sectors Index helps market participants see China’s changing economy in a novel way.

  1. What is the rationale behind the construction of the index?

    Historically, China’s growth has been driven by companies in the banking, natural resources, and manufacturing sectors—many of which are state-owned enterprises. However, as China’s economy matures, consumption and service-related industries are becoming structurally more important. Because the country’s stock market continues to have significant exposure to these “old economy” sectors, many market participants are seeking alternative index solutions to participate more directly in China’s fastest growth areas. We believe the S&P New China Sectors Index meets this need in the marketplace, given its focus on companies operating in industries poised to benefit from China’s transition to a consumer- and service-oriented economy.

  1. How does the index work?

    Subject to meeting minimum size and liquidity requirements, all companies domiciled in China and Hong Kong are eligible, including A-shares and offshore listings in Hong Kong, the U.S., and Singapore. Companies classified within the Global Industry Classification Standard® (GICS®) sectors and industries listed in Exhibit 1 are then selected for inclusion.

    If more than 300 companies are selected, only the largest 300 by float-adjusted market cap are included. The index is weighted by float-adjusted market cap, subject to a single-stock cap of 10%, and it is rebalanced semiannually in June and December.

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FAQ: S&P DJI’s Approach to the EU Low Carbon Benchmark Regulation Disclosure Requirements

The EU Low Carbon Benchmark Regulation requires administrators of benchmarks (other than interest rate and FX) to comply with new requirements to disclose environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in their methodology documents and benchmark statements.  The delegated regulations ((EU) 2020/1816 and (EU) 2020/1817) for ESG disclosure (“Delegated Regulations”) are effective as of Dec. 23, 2020.

  1. What are the regulations, and what do they aim to achieve?  The EU Low Carbon Benchmark Regulation amends the EU Benchmark Regulation in two ways: first, it introduces two new benchmark classifications—EU Climate Transition Benchmarks (EU CTB) and EU Paris-Aligned Benchmarks (EU PAB)—and second, it requires administrators of ESG benchmarks to publish certain information.  Administrators of benchmarks that pursue ESG objectives must (i) publish an explanation of how key elements of the methodology reflect ESG factors; and (ii) explain in the benchmark statement how ESG factors are reflected for each benchmark or family of benchmarks.  The aims of the Delegated Regulations are to:
    • Create a common framework of requirements that promotes consistency, leading to greater comparability between benchmarks;
    • Clearly state if a benchmark pursues ESG objectives, helping investors to identify them; and
    • Generate greater transparency of a benchmark’s objectives to help investors understand them more easily.
  2. When did the requirements come into effect?  For EU benchmark administrators, the Delegated Regulations are effective as of Dec. 23, 2020.  For third-country (i.e., non-EU) benchmark administrators, the Delegated Regulations are effective as of Jan. 1, 2022.
  3. How does S&P DJI intend to meet the new EU ESG disclosure requirements?  S&P DJI has two benchmark administrators under the EU Benchmark Regulation (EU BMR): S&P DJI Netherlands B.V. (S&P DJI BV), an EU benchmark administrator based in Amsterdam and authorized by the Dutch Authority for Financial Markets; and S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC (S&P DJI), a corporation based in New York.  For the purposes of the EU BMR, S&P DJI is an administrator located in a third country.  Under the EU BMR, non-EU (third-country) benchmark administrators have an extended period of time to implement the requirements of the regulation. On the other hand, EU benchmark administrators must implement the EU ESG disclosure requirements starting from Dec. 23, 2020.  In view of the different timelines for EU and third-country administrators, we are prioritizing the EU ESG disclosures for those benchmarks administered by S&P DJI BV.  For more information on S&P DJI’s implementation of the EU Benchmark Regulation, please refer to the Regulatory Information page of the S&P DJI website.    

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FAQ: EU Low Carbon Benchmark Regulation

The EU Low Carbon Benchmark Regulation requires administrators of benchmarks (other than interest rate and FX) to comply with new requirements to disclose ESG factors in their methodology documents and benchmark statements.  The delegated regulations ((EU) 2020/1816 and (EU) 2020/1817) for ESG disclosure (“Delegated Regulations”) are effective as of Dec. 23, 2020.

EU LOW CARBON BENCHMARK REGULATION

  1. What are the regulations, and what do they aim to achieve? The EU Low Carbon Benchmark Regulation amends the EU Benchmark Regulation in two ways: first, it introduces two new benchmark classifications—EU Climate Transition Benchmarks (EU CTB) and EU Paris-Aligned Benchmarks (EU PAB)—and second, it requires administrators of ESG benchmarks to publish certain information.  Administrators of benchmarks that pursue ESG objectives must (i) publish an explanation of how key elements of the methodology reflect ESG factors; and (ii) explain in the benchmark statement how ESG factors are reflected for each benchmark or family of benchmarks.  The aims of the Delegated Regulations are to:
    • Create a common framework of requirements that promotes consistency, leading to greater comparability between benchmarks;
    • Clearly state if a benchmark pursues ESG objectives, helping investors to identify them; and
    • Generate greater transparency of a benchmark’s objectives to help investors understand them more easily.
  1. When did the Delegated Regulations come into effect? The Delegated Regulations are effective as of Dec. 23, 2020.
  2. Where does the EU Low Carbon Benchmark Regulation originate from? The European Commission published its action plan for financing EU sustainable growth in March 2018.[1]  A primary objective of the sustainable finance action plan is to channel private investment into the transition to a climate-neutral economy.  One of the initiatives that the EU has implemented to help achieve this goal is the amendment of the EU Benchmark Regulation.  This amendment enhances the ESG transparency of benchmark methodologies and specifies minimum methodology standards for low carbon benchmarks in the EU. 
  3. What are the disclosures required by the Delegated Regulations? The EU Low Carbon Benchmark Regulation requires benchmark administrators to make ESG disclosures in two separate documents: the benchmark methodology and the benchmark statement.  In addition, the Delegated Regulations mandate the use of specific disclosure templates.

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