Responsible Investment

De Lisle Partners has always taken a responsible approach to investment by focusing on US equities with acceptable environmental, social and governance standards. We also avoid controversial sectors such as arms manufacture, coal and gambling.

We have been able to pursue this strategy because we invest in smaller companies. It is far easier to do the due diligence and assess the ESG performance of a company that does not have too many divisions and where its culture is more easily defined.

The VT De Lisle America Fund holds stock only in publicly quoted and regulated companies in North America. A significant number of these have been in our portfolio for a decade or more and we have got to know their management and working practices well.

Watching the American entrepreneurial spirit at work piloting small dynamic companies as they grow, evolve and become more widely owned is fascinating. By following these small companies closely we  have discovered that there is a correlation between good places to work and good performance in the stock market.

De Lisle Partners is signed up to the UN Principles of Responsible Investment. Our first public reporting year is 2025.

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Our ESG process

We have always taken environmental, social and governance issues into account as part of the decision-making process before making a new investment. However, we recognise that we can play a more active role in ensuring that the companies in our portfolios are aware of the importance we place on measures to reduce their carbon footprint, respect the environment, take care of their employees – including those in their supply chains – and pursue diversity and equality in the workplace.

To help us engage with our holdings on a deeper level our Head of Research, who reports directly to the fund manager, has built rigorous ESG analysis into our investment process. This also includes the preparation of reports on companies already in our portfolios.

It is of great help to us that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires companies to make detailed regular public disclosures of their organisational structure, business risk factors, and financial performance. Executives must also swear under oath that the information in their annual report is accurate.

These public submissions are a good starting point for assessing governance and sustainability factors but they only give part of the picture. Smaller US companies are late in coming to grips with the growing importance of reducing their carbon footprint and developing ESG reporting frameworks. To encourage them to address these issues with more rigour we engage directly with companies to get more detailed answers to questions that are of concern to us, our investors and their agents.


Our questionnaire

To this end we have created a proprietary questionnaire. It has been designed to assess how the company is run, how it interacts with the environment, and how it treats its staff and the wider community.

It comprises 20 questions covering the key areas of ESG concern. The answers give us a good overview of the company’s current ESG performance and provide a valuable base line from which to monitor improvements going forward.

As well as obtaining information from public sources, news releases and creditable independent assessments, we engage directly with senior executives within the companies themselves.


Our scoring process

The answer to each question is given a score of 1 – 5. From these we produce an average score for each of the three sectors: environment, social and governance. A score of < 2 in any sector means the company’s performance is ‘unacceptable’ and it is excluded as an investment.

If a company scores < 3 in any sector (needs improvement) we will regularly review measures being taken to produce an improved rating. But as long as the company has higher scores on questions in the other two sectors – 3 (fair), 4 (good), 5 (very good) – it will not fail to be considered for investment on ESG grounds.

As this is proprietary research we are not publishing the results of these ESG assessments on our website. However, copies of the full reports, including the reasoning behind the scores awarded, are available to investors in the fund.