ASI unveils SDG-aligned Asian equity fund

The fund can hold up to 60 stocks deemed to have high growth potential, selected from Asian markets.

Aberdeen Standard Investments (ASI) has launched an Asian Sustainable Development Equity fund managed by its 50-strong Asia Pacific equities team to align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

The new Luxembourg-domiciled fund will invest in a portfolio of 30 to 60 high conviction stocks, with a focus on Asian markets with growth potential and where ASI said there are “significant opportunities” to identify and allocate capital to the “unmet-needs” highlighted by UN SDGs.

The new offering from ASI will also benefit from the expertise of its central team of 20 environmental, social and governance (ESG) experts, in addition to ESG analysts within the wider global emerging markets equities team.

The Asian Sustainable Development Equity fund will assess a company’s alignment to the SDGs using ASI’s “eight-pillar framework”, while the investment team has pledged active engagement to help drive positive changes in corporate behaviour and encourage better disclosure of SDG alignment by companies.

The 17 SDGs, which were designed to help address environmental and social challenges, are at the core of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015.

David Smith, head of corporate governance, Asia Pacific at ASI, said that while some progress had been made towards achieving the UN’s SDGs by 2030, people in many Asian countries were still not benefiting from growth and progress, and remained “vulnerable” to economic, social and environmental risks.

“By investing in companies based or operating in Asia Pacific economies, which are strongly aligned to the UN’s SDGs, this new fund seeks to deliver both attractive return for our clients and a positive societal impact – where it matters most,” he said.

Flavia Cheong, head of Asia Pacific equities, added: “As responsible investors, we believe that supporting the SDGs creates tangible opportunities for Asian companies to contribute positively to society and the environment, while enhancing the long-term financial value of their businesses.”

In July, ASI announced it had divested from Boohoo in its responsible investment funds, including the ASI UK Ethical Equity, UK Responsible Equity and UK Impact Employment Opportunities Equity funds, following allegations of slavery in the retailer’s supply chain.

The new fund has initially been registered for sale in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.