The Impact Plan
Use your pension to help build a better world
What is the Impact Plan?
The Impact Plan invests exclusively in companies addressing the world's great social and environmental problems, whilst saving for your retirement.
Companies in the Impact Plan are working to support underserved communities and tackle unaddressed challenges, to help improve lives and create a better planet for us all to live in. This could mean investing in companies helping to provide education and affordable housing or develop green energy and sustainable food and water to name a few examples. And crucially those companies' impact on people and the planet can be measured so you know they’re contributing to real change.
The Impact Plan invests in companies already working to shape the world for the better, so why not help support them by investing in the change you want to see?
What kind of impact are the companies included in the plan having?
There's no shortage of challenges facing our planet and society so the Impact Plan aims to invest in companies helping to solve a diverse range of needs.
Here are just a few of the ways the companies this plan invests in are helping make a positive impact. You can see the top 20 holdings of the plan here.
Bringing electricity to remote regions.
Advancing renewable energy technology.
Developing more affordable access to healthcare.
Creating job placements for people with disabilities.
Providing access to financial services.
A pension built to make a difference
As an impact investor, it's important to know your pension is truly investing in companies making a positive difference. That's why the Impact Plan is built and managed by impact investing experts who ensure the plan only includes companies that have undergone a rigorous vetting process.
Action over words
We recognise it's not good enough to just make commitments on paper, that's why more than 50% of a company's revenue or business activity must be helping to solve a real-world problem as defined by our impact themes or advance at least one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).
Advancing not just aligning
You'll be investing in companies addressing a need that's either going unmet or unaddressed by others, and without their action, those needs could be more severe.
Made to measure
Each company's impact must be measurable. That could include the number of patients treated, affordable homes built or the amount of CO2 emissions avoided, to ensure they continue to be worthy of inclusion and to give you the confidence you're investing in a plan with companies creating real impact.
Rigorous exclusion criteria
Companies are screened against exclusion criteria such as human rights violations, fossil fuel extraction and weapons as well as those deemed to be causing significant harm to people or the environment, among other areas and excluded from consideration in the plan (see FAQ What are the exclusions? for full exclusion details).
Companies are monitored daily against the screening criteria and removed from the plan if they've been red or orange flagged by MSCI for controversial practices.
Aims to generate long-term returns
Our Impact Plan aims to generate long-term financial returns to help grow your pension as you save for retirement all whilst addressing societal and environmental problems.
Designed in collaboration with our customers and BlackRock
- Designed by a world-class team of impact investing experts trained in identifying companies helping to solve the world's great challenges. The team includes the plan's Co-Portfolio Manager, Eric Rice, architect of the world's first diversified public-markets impact investing strategy.
- A globally-diversified portfolio of 200 - 300 publicly-listed companies with a minimum size of $1bn and a maximum 25% sector allocation limit.
- A plan designed with an ongoing vetting process as its core to ensure companies meet the highly specific inclusion criteria. The plan rebalances quarterly and a company can only be included in the portfolio after rigorous checks from the BlackRock team.
- BlackRock is one of the world's largest investment management companies with more than $7 trillion in assets under management (AUM)* and over 30 years of experience as well as the manager of our most popular plan, Tailored, since its inception.
The PensionBee Impact Plan’s an innovative plan which focuses on both building a pension pot for retirement, as well as a better world to retire into.
Great world challenges offer business opportunities. This plan’s a new way for pension savers to access public markets impact investing. Impact investing’s often been closed to mainstream savers, yet their savings are crucial in order to address the $4.3 trillion-dollar annual shortfall in financing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).
The annual fee for the plan is 0.95%. We halve that fee on the portion of your pension balance over £100,000.
The objective of the plan is to generate long-term total returns through active investment in companies whose goods and services are helping to address the world’s social and environmental problems.
Strict criteria are used to determine inclusion in the Impact Plan through a five-step vetting process.
Company alignment to one or more impact theme:
- Affordable housing
- Education and skilling
- Financial and digital inclusion
- Public health
- Safety and security
- Efficiency, electrification and digitisation
- Green energy
- Pollution remediation and prevention
- Sustainable food, water and waste
Identification of an United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) target that the company’s product or service is helping to advance progress towards.
Measure of materiality to ensure over 50% of a company’s revenues or business activities of core products and/or services are aligned to the impact theme or UN SDG target(s).
An additionality assessment to discover if the company is tackling a world issue that isn’t being well addressed by another actor i.e. a majority of its products and services must address a need that’s unlikely to be fulfilled by others.
Identification of a measurability indicator of the company’s reporting, which can be used to measure the related impact outcome over time.
The plan holdings are checked and adjusted quarterly and a company can only be included after rigorous checks from the team at BlackRock.
There’s a strict impact-related divestment (selling) discipline for any company that no longer meets the impact criteria. A divestment can occur on any day outside of the quarterly rebalance. Corporate actions, controversies and ESG downgrades are all flagged automatically.
The plan only invests in companies that can demonstrate material, additional and measurable impact.
Material means a majority of revenues or business activity is advancing one or more of the UN SDGs.
Additional means a company’s offerings have been identified to address a specific need unlikely to be met by governments, non-governmental organisations, charities or businesses.
Measurable means the company’s impact must be quantifiable.
The materiality %, the additionality assessment and key impact performance indicators are measured for each company.
Example key impact performance indicators can be: number of patients treated, number of people educated, number of micro and small enterprises with access to credit facilities, amount of water saved, amount of water treated, carbon emissions saved. Progress towards achieving these indicators is measured and assessed by the BlackRock team.
Measurement of impact relies on industry best-practice tools for impact measurement and management (such as the IMP’s Five Dimensions of Impact and the Global Impact Investing Network’s IRIS+ Core Metrics Set and Taxonomy.
The plan invests in 200-300 international companies that can demonstrate material, additional and measurable impact. There’s a maximum 25% sector allocation limit to ensure diversification.
Here’s an example snapshot of the top 20 holdings of the plan* and their impact theme. Holdings are subject to change and once the fund launches we’ll be able to share live data.
|Company||Impact theme||UN SDG||Weight|
|1||Jack Henry and Associates||Financial & Digital Inclusion||8.3||2.44%|
|2||Bank Rakyat Indonesia||Financial & Digital Inclusion||8.3, 10.1||1.98%|
|3||RELX plc||Education & Skilling||4.7, 16, 17.8||1.91%|
|4||Royalty Pharma||Public Health||3||1.56%|
|5||Boston Scientific||Public Health||3||1.54%|
|6||EDP Renováveis||Green Energy||7.2, 13.1||1.49%|
|7||Danaher||Public Health||3, 6.3||1.44%|
|8||Orsted||Green Energy||7.2, 13.1||1.44%|
|9||Schneider Electric||Efficiency, Electrification, Digitization||7.3, 9.4, 12.2||1.40%|
|10||Zoetis||Sustainable Food and Water||2.1, 3.4||1.39%|
|11||Brookfield Renewable||Green Energy||7.2, 13.1||1.37%|
|12||Halma plc||Safety & Security||6.1, 8.8, 11.5||1.32%|
|13||NextEra Energy||Green Energy||7.2, 13.1||1.31%|
|14||Aptiv||Safety & Security||3.6, 9.1, 9.4||1.31%|
|15||North West Company||Sustainable Food and Water||2.1||1.28%|
|16||Koninklijke DSM N.V.||Sustainable Food and Water||2.4, 3, 12.2||1.25%|
|17||Trimble||Sustainable Food and Water||2.3, 9.1||1.23%|
|18||Global Payments||Financial & Digital Inclusion||8.3||1.21%|
|19||Thermo Fisher Scientific||Public Health||3.9||1.20%|
|20||Vestas Wind Systems||Green Energy||7.2, 13.1||1.19%|
* This list is a preliminary list and is subject to change. Specific companies identified don’t reflect companies purchased or sold, and no assumptions should be made that the companies identified and discussed were or will be profitable. The following represents the proposed fund’s equity holdings only and portfolio weights are normalised. Holdings can change at any time and are provided for informational purposes only and shouldn’t be deemed as a recommendation to buy or sell the securities mentioned or securities in the industries in which they are placed.
The maximum holding size of one company is 5% of the total portfolio. The longer list of impact companies in the plan has been developed by BlackRock’s Public Equities Impact Investing team, led by Eric Rice. As it is the intellectual property of that team it’s not publicly available.
This means we can’t list companies beyond the top 20 biggest holdings, but you can see the criteria for inclusion and exclusion to understand what types of companies are in the plan.
Throughout the year we’ll also share company spotlights from the top holdings, which will show more detail on their impact metrics, based on the IMP’s Five Dimensions of Impact framework. Bank Rakyat’s company spotlight is here.
The investment approach is to target a low turnover of companies. On average companies will be held in the portfolio for five years at a time. This is because it’s long-term partnership and engagement that drive value and impact. This approach also reduces transaction costs and enhances the ability to build long-term rapport with company management.
The BlackRock team engages with companies to help enhance their environmental and social impact outcomes, aid better impact data provision, and identify partnerships that can bring more impact breadth. It also brings much-needed visibility to undervalued and under-represented impact companies.
Some sectors and those with exposure to specific business areas will be limited and / or excluded (in some cases subject to specific revenue thresholds) including:
|Exclusion type||Critical value|
|Adult Entertainment - Maximum Percentage of Revenue||>5% revenues excluded|
|Alcohol Producer - Maximum Percentage of Revenue||>5% revenues excluded|
|Weapons - Bio/chem Components||Fully Excluded|
|Cluster Munitions - Any Tie||Fully Excluded|
|Evidence of Total Coal Reserves||Fully Excluded|
|Evidence of owning conventional oil reserves||Fully Excluded|
|Total volume of proved conventional oil reserves||Zero|
|Weapons - Depleted Uranium Manufacturer||Fully Excluded|
|Civilian Firearms Retailer - Maximum Percentage of Revenue||>5% revenues excluded|
|Gambling - Maximum Percentage of Revenue||>5% revenues excluded|
|Generation Thermal Coal - Maximum Percentage of Revenue||>5% revenues excluded*|
|Landmines - Any Tie||Fully Excluded|
|Evidence of Total Oil Reserves||Fully Excluded|
|Sum of total oil reserves||Zero|
|Oil Sands - Any Tie||Fully Excluded|
|Evidence of Oil Shale & Tar Sands Reserves||Fully Excluded|
|Civilian Firearms Producer||Fully Excluded|
|Evidence of Thermal Coal Reserves||Fully Excluded|
|Tobacco Total - Maximum Percentage of Revenue||>5% revenues excluded*|
|Tobacco Producer||Fully Excluded|
|Global Compact Compliance||Fail|
|Weapons - Bio/chem Systems||Fully Excluded|
|Weapons - Blinding Laser||Fully Excluded|
|Weapons - Ownership by a Blinding Laser Weapons Company||Fully Excluded|
|Weapons - Conventional Maximum Percentage of Revenue||>5% revenues excluded|
|Weapons - Ownership by a Incendiary Weapons Company||Fully Excluded|
|Weapons - White Phosphorus||Fully Excluded|
|Weapons - Ownership by a Non-detectable Fragments Company||Fully Excluded|
|Weapons - Non-Detectable Fragments||Fully Excluded|
|Weapons - Nuclear Dual-Use Components||Fully Excluded|
|Weapons - Nuclear Dual-Use Delivery Platforms||Fully Excluded|
|Weapons - Nuclear Intended-Use Components||Fully Excluded|
|Weapons - Nuclear Exclusive Delivery Platforms||Fully Excluded|
|Weapons - Nuclear Warheads & Missiles||Fully Excluded|
|Weapons - Nuclear Weapons Support Services||Fully Excluded|
|Weapons - Ownership by a Bio/Chem Weapons Company||Fully Excluded|
|Weapons - Ownership by a Depleted Uranium Weapons Company||Fully Excluded|
|Generation Natural Gas - Maximum Percentage of Revenue||>50% revenues*|
|Maximum revenue from liquid fuel based energy generation||>5% revenues excluded*|
|Conventional Weapon - Revenue||Fully Excluded|
|Unconventional Oil & Gas||Fully Excluded|
|Conventional Oil & Gas||Fully Excluded|
|Exclusion of Energy sector||Fully Excluded|
|Nuclear Power - Nuclear Percentage of Revenue||>50% revenues excluded|
*Why is there a revenue threshold for the following screens?
Revenue thresholds are used to ensure that the team doesn’t unintentionally screen out companies that the plan might actually want to invest in. Here are some examples by sector.
All tobacco producers are fully excluded from the Impact Plan.
Outside of producers, there is a 5% threshold on revenues from tobacco, meaning that companies with up to 5% revenues derived from areas such as distribution and retailing may be considered in the plan, if the company meets the other strict impact inclusion criteria.
For example, this means that a low-cost supermarket selling tobacco may be considered if the business’ main product or service is providing materially discounted groceries, helping to provide food to remote regions, or helping with supply chain issues, but only if the tobacco revenue exposure for selling tobacco products is less than 5%.
Companies with coal reserves are fully excluded. This means that all coal mining companies are fully excluded.
The Impact Plan allows for up to 5% revenues derived from coal and thermal coal. For example, this means that companies generating electricity from coal, that have over 50% revenues from green energy and less than 5% exposure to coal as an energy source, may be eligible if the company meets the other impact criteria.
If a company has any revenue below 5% derived from coal the company must also have a time-bound public commitment to get to 0%. That allows the plan to invest in some of the world’s most sustainable energy companies.
There are just a couple of examples of companies that are in this 0.1%-5% exposure range - which must demonstrate a time-bound commitment to transition to 0% - and are also some of the most transformational companies in the green energy transition. One example’s Orsted, which the team has invested in since their coal exposure reached below 5%, and with a time-bound commitment to get to 0%.
Often large drivers of transformational change are those who lead the way in pivoting their whole business to green energy. Orsted describes itself as ‘the world’s most sustainable energy company’.
Both unconventional and conventional oil and gas companies are excluded, which includes companies that mine and drill for fossil fuels.
The plan allows up to a 50% revenue exposure to companies that generate electricity from natural gas (for example utilities providing electricity to populations around the globe). Within the utilities sector there are companies the team believes are environmentally net positive and driving the adoption of green / renewable energy through regional and industry-leading technologies or business models, thus aiding the transition to a lower carbon economy. In a few cases, these companies have minority revenue exposures to energy derived from natural gas. In 2022 the EU included gas as a power generation source as part of their EU taxonomy.
Whilst the team do not believe these energy sources in isolation are the solution, if decarbonisation is the goal, natural gas and nuclear must be a part of the medium-term energy mix. The team recognise that there’s a role for nuclear and gas in the facilitation towards a predominantly renewables-based future.
The team don’t count the revenues from these two electricity sources as contributing to the overall impact materiality calculation, but the team allows for a minority exposure to these energy sources so long as the following criteria are met:
Every utility company in the impact universe must meet the teams >50% materiality threshold and their products/ services must be additional in aiding greater penetration and adoption of renewable energy, thus aiding the transition to a lower carbon economy
Among our 200-300 companies planned for investment, there are currently seven companies with exposure to natural gas. All seven companies are leaders in sustainability that have legacy natural gas exposure and are heavily focussed on the green energy portion of their business.
Liquid fuel-based energy generation
While the Impact Plan excludes all companies with any oil reserves, unconventional and conventional oil mining companies, the plan allows for up to 5% revenues from electricity generation derived from oil / petroleum.
This allows for countries to tackle base load requirements when demand for electricity is at peaks, but whose majority business is derived from green energy sourced electricity generation.
This means that companies that, for example, generate electricity from oil / petroleum, that have over 50% revenues from green energy and less than 5% exposure to oil / petroleum as an energy source, may be eligible if the company also meets the impact criteria.
That enables the plan to invest in some of the world’s largest sustainable energy companies including NextEra Energy, the world’s largest producer of wind and solar energy.
CCC ESG screens and MSCI controversy companies rated as ‘red’ or ‘orange’ according to MSCI’s controversy scoring methodology, which means a company’s involved in one or more recent severe and ongoing structural controversies.
Daily monitoring against the screens seeks to capture changes in companies’ business exposures or poor environmental, social or governance practices, covering both the company and supply chain issues.
ESG, or environmental, social and governance, focuses on how a company operates while impact’s about what a company’s outputs are - their products and services.
ESG investors aim to invest in companies with high ESG scores, often based on ESG rating agency data. Whereas impact investors aim to invest in solutions to environmental or social problems, to achieve positive, real-world impact.
There’s ample ESG data available in the public domain but there’s no provider of impact data that meets industry best practice. Therefore impact assessments require a bottom up fundamental assessment of companies’ business lines by impact experts, and linked to tangible impact outcomes as identified by the UN SDG targets. The team at BlackRock analyses the characteristics of each company to make these fundamental assessments.
In impact investing, an additionality assessment must also be built for every company, to ensure they can be deemed to be solving an unmet need and whose products and/ or services are agents of change.
Many impact companies are smaller in nature and / or located in emerging countries, and often lacking the resources needed to provide the insights that showcase their processes and ESG strengths. This can put them at a relative disadvantage in comparison to larger companies in developed markets.
Additionally, ESG scores are industry agnostic. So an oil producing company or a tobacco manufacturer may have a phenomenal ESG score. However, their respective environmental or public health impact may be detrimental. In contrast, the Impact Plan might invest in education and health services companies that may have a lower than average ESG score; however these companies are more sustainable than the hypothetical oil and tobacco companies in terms of measurable impact outcomes.
For BlackRock’s Impact Investing team, ratings (where available) are only a starting point. The team assures that any stock it invests in meets their three impact criteria (materiality, additionality, measurability). The team may also leverage its company engagements to better understand the businesses it invests in: through partnering with management there’s an ongoing dialogue around the direction of travel to become more sustainable and get a close understanding of the importance these companies put on sustainable business practices. This level of granularity is less probable at an ESG data provider level, when analysing thousands of companies.
The PensionBee Impact Plan seeks to deliver long term total returns of 0-2% versus MSCI ACWI index – a broad global index comprising all-capitalisation size companies.
You can view the historic annual performance of the MSCI ACWI here.
The plan targets a lower carbon intensity of at least 30% lower than MSCI ACWI.
The plan uses the MSCI ACWI as a benchmark. This is one of the world’s most tracked global equity indexes and is designed to represent the performance of large and mid-cap stocks across 23 developed and 24 emerging markets. As of May 2022, it covers more than 2,933 constituents across 11 sectors.
The plan’s managed against the MSCI ACWI benchmark with a target tracking error of 2-4%, which means it seeks to have a risk / return profile comparable to global equity markets, whilst only investing in companies that are deemed to be helping build a better world.
All investing carries risk. This plan’s invested in the shares of 200-300 companies around the world with a maximum 25% sector allocation limit to ensure diversification. This brings both risk and reward.
The plan only invests in publicly listed companies that are valued at over $1 billion. The maximum size of investment in any one listed company in the plan is 5%. It doesn’t invest in unlisted companies. The plan’s managed against the MSCI ACWI benchmark which means it seeks to have a risk / return profile comparable to global equity markets, whilst only investing in companies that are deemed to be helping to build a better world.
The plan was specially created by Eric Rice, and his team of public equities impact investing experts, who focus on identifying companies that are addressing the world’s most pressing social and environmental problems and measuring their impact. The impact investing team has 100+ years of combined investing experience.
The challenges this plan seeks to address bring with them financial opportunity for investors. Some of the companies the plan invests in may have a crucial role in the transition to net zero, or in addressing the UN SDGs, and offer real opportunities for long term total return. Conversely, investing in companies that are causing environmental and social harm can pose greater societal, regulatory and stranded asset risk.
Pensions are long-term investments and some savers take the view that the world they retire into is as important as the size of the pot they retire with. You’ll not be able to enjoy your retirement pot if you need to spend most of it on defence against extreme weather events, or paying a premium to access clean food, water and air.
The PensionBee Impact Plan’s an innovative plan which focuses on both building a pension pot for retirement as well as a better world to retire into. This plan also helps fulfil the PensionBee vision, that everyone can have a happy retirement.
Having scoured the market to find a high conviction plan that would help our customers build a better world whilst saving for their retirements, we believe the Impact Plan created by BlackRock is best placed to do this.
In our assessment, BlackRock was the only manager able to create an impact solution that meets our customers’ preferences. The other options on offer in the market were considered either too highly concentrated with a limited number of holdings, or passive indices with an insufficient ability to advance and measure impact.
The Public Equities Impact Investing team at BlackRock collectively has 100+ years of industry experience and is led by Eric Rice, architect of the world’s first diversified public-markets impact investing strategy.
In order to address the $4.3 trillion-dollar annual shortfall in financing the UN SDGs, enormous capital needs to be redirected to impact companies. It’s critical that the world’s largest asset managers, including BlackRock, are part of the solution.
Making public markets impact investing accessible to everyone means offering a cost-effective solution, which this plan’s able to do.
Our Fossil Fuel Free Plan’s another type of responsible pension plan, however, it differs from the Impact Plan in two fundamental ways; what the fund invests in and how the fund’s managed.
The Fossil Fuel Free Plan passively tracks an index of over 1,000 global companies aligned to the Paris Agreement, those which have adjusted their business in preparation for climate transition. It does this by using a strong set of exclusion criteria to ensure the index excludes the fossil fuel and tobacco sectors as well as manufacturers of controversial weapons and persistent violators of the UN Global Compact.
The Impact Plan is an actively managed plan. BlackRock makes adjustments to which 200-300 companies are included in the plan by buying and selling its investments with the aim of only investing in companies that have an impact on people and the planet and targeting long-term total returns. The plan will only invest in companies that meet a strong set of inclusion criteria: where more than 50% of their revenue or business activity either advances solutions to an environmental or social issue or at least one of the UN SDGs. It’s also essential that the impact of the core goods or services the companies produce are material, additional and measurable. This is done by measuring the impact against a performance indicator, such as the number of patients treated or the number of students educated.
This plan was created for PensionBee customers by BlackRock and currently is only available through PensionBee. This may be subject to change in the future.
The ISIN of the plan is: GB00BN091826
This is an equity plan, which means that your investment’s in global stock markets. There may be a small % exposure to cash for efficient portfolio management purposes, but the remaining assets will all be in equities. This is different from our Tailored Plan, which changes the investment mix across a number of different asset classes, such as bonds, as you approach retirement.
Yes, the PensionBee Impact Plan, like all our plans, is structured as a long-term insurance contract, which means that if something happens to the money manager and the FSCS accepts the claim, they would cover the pension at 100% with no upper cap. You can read more on FSCS protections here.
Existing customers can request to switch to the Impact Plan in their BeeHive from January 2023 onwards. Once we reach £50 million in commitments from our existing customers the plan will launch, and your money will be moved across.
It’s a standard industry practice that these types of plan switches have transaction costs associated with them. This is true no matter who your provider is, including PensionBee.
Transaction costs are designed to protect existing investors from the negative impact of any inflows and outflows from the fund. The subscription (charge to enter) and redemption (charge to leave) spreads are usually visible on fund factsheets. They’re an unavoidable feature of the market when moving money between different funds. PensionBee, and the money managers, don’t make money from the transaction costs associated with switches.
The plan seeks to be managed in line with best practices, such as:
PensionBee’s ambition is for the plan to be market-leading in all ways, including its labelling. However, the FCA’s Sustainability Disclosure Requirements (SDR) regime remains in the consultation phase meaning the underlying label qualification criteria has not yet been finalised.
BlackRock will be conducting a review of its in scope UK products to determine the full impact of the SDR regime once published. As part of this review, the fund will be assessed against finalised label criteria and broader regulatory requirements.
If you’d like to ask us any questions about this plan, or share your views, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’d love to hear from you!
Important: With investments, your capital is at risk. Pensions can go down in value as well as up, so you could get back less than you invest.