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Christian Gibot, Charles Degen, François Lucchini (Cardif Lux Vie): Don’t get lost in the complexities of ESG, embrace the opportunities

Christian Gibot

François Lucchini 

Charles Degen

According to Christian Gibot (CEO of Cardif Lux Vie), Charles Degen (Chief Development & Local Market Officer) and François Lucchini (Chief Investment Officer), ESG criteria cannot simply be an add-on to management strategy. They must be fully integrated into the company's outlook and daily operations.

How do ESG considerations impact the life insurance industry?

Our employees, partners and clients are all highly aware of social and climate issues. As an insurer and investor, we have an important role to play, as we know the decisions we make can accelerate this change. This is not just an add-on to our corporate strategy, but an ambitious effort to make it part of our mission. It guides our actions, and also helps us to attract new employees who adhere to our values in a sector where there is strong competition for talent. 

Both at Cardif Lux Vie and at BNP Paribas as a whole, ESG criteria have been taken into account for a long time. We did this mainly by excluding certain investments for ethical reasons (pornography, tobacco, controversial weapons) and by selecting companies with the highest ESG ratings. We often go further, such as by underweighting certain sectors with a negative impact on the environment (e.g. oil companies). 

For several years, Cardif Lux Vie's CSR approach has been structured around four themes. First, there is the notion of responsible investment, and being more responsible with accessible products and services. We also focus our company on people, by integrating notions of diversity and well-being. Finally, we take seriously our responsibilities as a corporate citizen, and thanks to our profitability, we can contribute to local society while limiting our environmental impact. 

"As an insurer and investor, we can accelerate this change. This is not just an add-on to our strategy, but an ambitious effort to make it part of our corporate mission. "

How is Cardif Lux Vie adapting in this context?

We are translating our intentions into actions, and we promote these CSR principles in our corporate culture. Several years ago, we launched the "My Impact" programme, which continues to bring together more than twenty volunteers to identify impactful actions that can help. Recently, for example, they selected a reforestation project in the north of the country and suggested ways to promote well-being at work, ideas which we then implemented.

We are also committed to making our products accessible, regardless of resources or health status. It is also a question of enabling everyone to understand better the specificities of their contract, helping people to receive the benefits to which they are due.

Finally, as part of the management of our general fund, we have set ourselves the objective of increasing the value of our positive impact investments by €400 million by 2025, thus meeting the demand of customers who wish to give more meaning to their savings. In 2020 the total value of our impact investing was €577 million, with an ever-increasing share of green bonds, which have a focus on renewable energy and protection of the oceans.

What challenges and opportunities do you see in the insurance sector over the next five years?

We hope that the momentum will accelerate as ESG and sustainability criteria become more integrated. The key is to go further by reconciling return, responsibility and diversification of the offering, while avoiding a concentration of our investments on a reduced panel of assets that meet these requirements. This dynamic is actively supported by the Luxembourg government, which is determined to promote the sustainability of the financial centre. 

Finally, in this period of crisis, we have to make choices regarding digitalisation, working from home and more. By providing a solution to a problem, we are creating new challenges for the future, and we must prepare for these as much as possible. With teleworking and dematerialisation for example, thermal pollution will be replaced by electrical pollution. The next challenge will be to rethink the impact of all these new solutions.

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