A message from our CEO Anne Richards

In a blink of the eye we are already in the second quarter of 2021 and things feel very different in many countries since I wrote to you early in the new year.

While many of us still find ourselves under some sort of restrictions, and in some countries these have recently been tightened, there is real progress with vaccination programmes globally which allow us to start to imagine a path forward.

Many of our colleagues at Fidelity International remain working from home, but the number of offices reopening is increasing and we have started to embrace a new vision for our future workplace.  In creating this vision, our clients will of course remain at the centre of everything we do, and we will keep you updated as we progress.

Looking at businesses in which we invest, we see more optimism from company management. Our latest Analyst Survey shows that business managers globally are feeling more confident about the year ahead, albeit with some caution around the potential impact of new Covid variants.

We’re also seeing some real momentum on ESG issues.  For the first time, the majority of our analysts reported that sustainability issues have become a priority for their companies globally, as industries transform in the race to net zero carbon emissions. Two-thirds of companies are aiming to become carbon neutral by 2050.

Fidelity International is a founding investor signatory of the Net Zero Asset Manager Initiative led by the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), which commits us to achieving net zero emissions within our portfolios by 2050.  

But it’s not just the environment that matters when it comes to ESG.  Our regular analyst pulse surveys have also shown how social factors such as employee welfare and external stakeholders had become more important for companies during the pandemic.  

While the corporate focus in 2021 is starting to shift back towards the pre-pandemic priorities of growth investment, shareholder returns, and mergers and acquisitions, social factors will remain an important consideration.

On International Women’s Day, we released new research which showed how women had been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19.  It showed that women were a third more likely to work in sectors shut down by the lockdown and that a quarter of women have seen a fall in their income over the last 12 months.

This highlights the need for all companies to stay alert to the impact of the pandemic on their female workforce and to ensure that the great progress that has been made on gender equality over the last ten years is not lost.

As always, thank you for your continuing support.  If you have any questions, please do get in touch.