Advisers and investors seeking the confidence of a true to label’ ESG manager can look for a number of attributes.
How committed to ESG and responsible investing is the manager? Are they just testing the green wave to see how long it continues? Do they have only one or two ‘sustainable’ funds, or is their entire offering based on ESG principles?
Do they have ESG subject-matter experts dedicated to engagement, stewardship, and responsible investing? If so, are their backgrounds and education steeped in corporate sustainability, environmental data science and social advocacy experience?
What is their own approach to ESG, in terms of diversity and inclusion, working conditions, and emissions reductions?
Are they signatories to the various global Principles and Guidelines around sustainable investing, or members of groups such as the Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) or the TCFD?
What firms do they invest in, and do they actively engage with those firms?
How transparent are they, and how well are they able to link investment activity with environmental/social outcomes? And can they quantify those outcomes it in a way that is easily understood?
For example, in 2020, PIMCOs Climate Bond Strategy held green and sustainable bonds linked to projects that helped avoid almost 70,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. In Figure 6 below, this has been expressed in a more tangible way.
One of the most important things to look for is whether they have a rigorous model for assessing individual investment opportunities.
An example of such a model is that used by PIMCO, one of the world’s leading active ESG Fixed Interest Managers.
This process combines ESG-focused portfolio construction with active engagement and transparent reporting.
Central to this process is PIMCO’s own proprietary Green, Social and SDG Bond Scoring System shown in Figure 8.
PIMCO is also a highly active ESG fixed interest manager, and during 2020 engaged with over 1500 corporate bond issuers across many sectors, on topics including greenhouse gas emissions, human labour rights, product safety, governance, land use, and conduct and culture.
Bonds for change, ESG Investing Report, PIMCO, 2021.
Introduction to Sustainable Investing, presentation prepared by PIMCO, October 2021.
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