In this regular series, female members of the ESG investment industry detail how they are dealing with the transition to remote working during the coronavirus fallout
Following on from our sister title Portfolio Adviser which has been running the Working from Home series with investment experts from the wider industry, we are running these articles twice a week with women in ESG. This week we speak to Gail Counihan, fixed income ESG analyst at Franklin Templeton Fixed Income.
How has the coronavirus affected your day-to-day work – from both a portfolio and workplace perspective?
I used to work from home frequently, so the concept isn’t new to me. Our team is spread out in a few different time zones – so working from home has helped a lot with keeping in touch with them. I have such great colleagues – not having them around to chat with face-to-face is a big adjustment, albeit a completely manageable one compared to what some people are going through.
What has surprised you most about markets during the coronavirus sell-off?
I think the sudden nature of it was the biggest surprise – ‘life as we knew it’ just disappeared. We’ve all seen the movies about pandemics, but nothing really prepares you for the feeling of being in lockdown, far away from family and having no idea what the future will look like.
At the same time – the working world marches on. Clients are still eager to learn about ESG, they are interested in how we are engaging with different companies and we are still on a learning curve when it comes to big, thematic issues like how climate change might impact the companies that we invest in.
How do you think attitudes to ESG initiatives will be affected as we move through the crisis?
People certainly seem to be connecting the crisis to ESG – through the calls for greater control of food markets, or a more sustainable approach to the food system or even the fact that ESG funds appear to be weathering the storm relatively well.
I think the crisis has demonstrated how little we really need and shown a lot of people that a different way of life is possible. We just don’t need all the things, all the time (note to self, here!). We need to think of how we can apply that to a post covid-19 world.
Share some good news you have heard recently about the holdings/sectors/themes you invest in?
We’ve seen an increase in the green issuance coming to market and we are hearing that these issues are as over-subscribed as they usually are – so the crisis hasn’t deterred green issuers or green investors. Being underexposed to traditional energy companies has obviously worked well for us – as it has for most ESG focused funds.
What do you do for fun when you take a break from working at home?
Baking, gardening, Marie Kondo’ing… I think I may have forgotten what ‘fun’ is!
What is your favourite sustainable snack/hot drink when working from home?
We use OddBox for our weekly fruit & veg delivery – they rescue fruit and vegetables that are not fit for supermarket sale because of their shape or size.
Do you have a ‘top green tip’ to share on working remotely?
Start a herb or vegetable garden, if you can. It’s far more relaxing than keeping up with the news.
To view the previous articles from the Working from Home with … series see below:
Real world outcomes and a daily exercise challenge: WFH with Lazard’s Jennifer Anderson
Advising CEOs, collaboration and peanut butter: WFH with Actis’ Shami Nissan
IT stars, sneakers and webinars: WFH with Janus Hendersons’s Ama Seery
Social conscience, fishing and Christmas risotto: WFH with Hawksmoor’s Rebecca Fournier D’Albe
Safe harbours, team yoga, and Animals of Farthing Wood: WFH with Tribe’s Amy Clarke
Active ownership, hip-hop pilates and natural light: WFH with Federated Hermes’ Kimberley Lewis
Cautious positioning and interactive lessons: WFH with Square Mile’s Diane Earnshaw
Climate debate, board games and weekly podcasts: WFH with Quilter Cheviot’s Claudia Quiroz
Female fund managers, Tiger King and a different approach to home schooling: WFH with City Hive’s Bev Shah
Investment trusts, Jamie Oliver and renewable electricity suppliers: Working from home with EQ Investors’ Sophie Kennedy
Cushioning the falls and home-schooling in French: Working from Home with Morningstar’s Hortense Bioy
Reducing emissions and Morrisons’ corporate responsibility: Working from Home with Kames’ Miranda Beacham
Deadlines, schoolwork and team drinks: Working from home with ESG Clarity’s Natalie Kenway