Af2i, the French institutional investor association, has formulated a “raison d’être”, which is to embrace and promote long-term thinking and decision-making.
Roughly translated, the association, which brings together nearly 80 institutions with more than €3trn in assets, has summarised the purpose it has given itself as “placing the long-term at the heart of economic, social and financial systems”.
The raison d’être is both an appeal to others, such as policymakers, but also a commitment by Af2i itself.
It said that declaring it took on particular importance “in the current context marked by multiple health, economic and financial crises”.
“These crises are of increasing concern to all those who participate in economic activity and who depend today or who will depend in the future on remuneration from and the valuation of financial assets,” added Af2i.
It said its “raison d’être” was fully justified as these crises all seem marked by “a culture of short-termism,” the association said, adding that this culture “excessively” pervaded the financial sector.
It said there was a recognition the objective it had set itself was ambitious, but that the majority of its members’ commitments towards beneficiaries were long-term and often intergenerational, and required regulations and mechanisms adapted to this.
It also said that its member institutions’ commitments had a strategic societal role that had once again become evident in public debate.
It said Af2i would plead for the demands of a long-term approach to be placed at the heart not only of public debate, but of political and economic decisions as well.
It said this objective was all the more crucial today as investors are and would be called upon to play a central role “in the transformation of the abundant liquidity created to deal with the consequences of the crisis”.
“They must be able to massively finance investments that create jobs and improve living conditions, both present and future,” the association said.
Af2i said the fact that it had adopted a purpose obviously implied taking concrete actions and commitments in different areas, in particular with regard to ESG, balanced central government finances, and “the return to market conditions that allow returns on savings and investment products”.
With regard to ESG, Af2i indicated an intention to help establish “reliable and convincing action, evaluation and rating methods,” in particular with regard to climate change, the environment, and respect for human rights.
With regard to balancing public accounts, it said this “must once again become an objective for societal consensus”.
“Af2i’s members naturally adhere to this objective because they are engaged in long processes requiring a healthy and sustainable development of the economy,” the association added.
The concept of a “raison d’être” that Af2i has adopted stems from the wide-ranging so-called Pacte law of 2019. Among other things, it revised the definition of a corporation, introducing an option for company to define a “raison d’être”. Af2i said it was the first professional association to adopt one.