Code for Responsible Investing in SA (CRISA)

The Code for Responsible Investing in South Africa (CRISA) was launched in Johannesburg in 2011.  South Africa was then only the second country next to the UK to formally encourage institutional investors to integrate into their investment decisions sustainability issues such as environmental, social and governance (ESG).

CRISA has been endorsed by the

  • Institute of Directors in Southern Africa (IoDSA),
  • Principal Officers Association (POA), and
  • the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA).

The principles of CRISA are also supported by the Financial Services Board (FSB) and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

CRISA applies to institutional investors such as pension funds and insurance companies as the owners of assets, and their service providers including asset managers and consultants.

It encourages institutional investors and service providers to adopt its principles and practice recommendations on an “apply or explain” basis. The effective date for reporting on the application of CRISA is 1 February 2012.

The CRISA Principles

Principle 1 – An institutional investor should incorporate sustainability considerations, including ESG, into its investment analysis and investment activities as part of the delivery of superior risk-adjusted returns to the ultimate beneficiaries. The Code requires institutional investors to develop policies on how they incorporate sustainability considerations, including ESG, into investment analysis and activities. Institutional investors should ensure that this policy is implemented and establish processes to monitor compliance with the policy.

Principle 2 – An institutional investor should demonstrate its acceptance of ownership responsibilities in its investment arrangements and investment activities. The second principle requires institutional investors to demonstrate a responsible approach to shareholding by, among others, implementing a policy detailing mechanisms of intervention and engagement with companies when concerns have been identified, as well as the means of escalation if concerns raised cannot be resolved. The Code requires such a policy to also detail the approach to voting at shareholder meetings, including the criteria to be used in reaching voting decisions and public disclosure of full voting records.

Controls should also be introduced by the institutional investor to prevent insider trading as defined by the Security Services Act.

Principle 3 – Where appropriate, institutional investors should consider a collaborative approach to promote acceptance and implementation of the principles of CRISA and other codes and standards applicable to institutional investors. Institutional investors are encouraged to work with other shareholders, service providers, regulators, investee companies and ultimate beneficiaries to promote CRISA and sound governance.

Principle 4 – An institutional investor should recognise the circumstances and relationships that hold a potential for conflicts of interest and should pro-actively manage these when they occur. Institutional investors are encouraged develop a policy on prevention and management of conflicts of interests and establish processes to monitor compliance with this policy.

Principle 5 – Institutional investors should be transparent about the content of their policies, how the policies are implemented and how CRISA is applied to enable stakeholders to make informed assessments. The Code requires institutional investors to fully and publicly disclose to stakeholders at least once a year to what extent the Code has been applied.

If an institutional investor has not fully applied one of the Principles of the Code, the reasons should be disclosed. Disclosure as well as policies should be made public.

Institutional investor and their service providers should also, before agreeing to a proxy or other instruction to keep voting records confidential, carefully consider the reasons put forward to justify confidentiality.

Read all about CRISA here