In Brief

Malk Partners hires a CEO

Founder Andrew Malk is becoming the firm's executive chairman

La Jolla, California-based ESG management adviser Malk Partners has hired a CEO, the company announced Tuesday.

Max Hong, who was previously operating partner at Crosspoint Capital Partners, is assuming responsibilities at Malk from founder Andrew Malk, who is moving to a role as executive chairman at the firm. Andrew Malk had led the firm since its establishment in 2009.

The company advises on more than $500bn in assets under management and provides ESG consulting services to alternatives managers globally.

“Hong’s appointment positions the firm to capitalize on the most powerful trends shaping global finance, while enhancing Malk Partners’ best-in-class advisory services for clients’ rapidly evolving needs in the ESG and impact space,” the company stated in its announcement.

“It also comes as responsible investing is being quickly embraced throughout private equity and private credit and as more clients are demanding the expertise and singular ESG focus that the firm has pioneered.”

Northwestern Mutual adds ESG option for wealthy clients

The new service provides 'white glove, customized' options for high-net-worth clients

Northwestern Mutual has rolled out ESG investment options specifically for high-net-worth clients, the company recently announced.

The new services are designed for investors in the company’s private client services and signature managed accounts programs.

The news about the ESG options follows the company’s addition late last year of active and passive ESG portfolios in its mass-affluent mutual fund and ETF model portfolio service, Signature Portfolios, Northwestern Mutual noted in an announcement.

The new “white glove, customized” options for high-net-worth clients are available from the company’s advisers and “feature both proprietary management by Northwestern Mutual Management Company portfolio managers as well as a blend of actively managed ESG funds and ETFs that meet the firm’s research criteria and quality standards,” the firm stated.

“Clients invested in the ESG models are differentiated through active management of their large cap holdings in the NMWMC ESG Large Cap Core Equity Portfolio … integration of ESG research in the process of selecting portfolio holdings, and asset allocation weightings,” according to the statement.

Northwestern reports being among the 10 biggest independent broker-dealers in the country by revenue. As of the end of March, its retail assets under management stood at $237bn.

British ESG firm Alquity inks distribution deal with Spouting Rock

Alquity's products will be available in the US

Boutique asset management firm Spouting Rock is investing in London-based responsible investment manager Alquity and will be making the firm’s funds available to clients, the companies announced on Wednesday.

The deal comes on the heels of a growth spurt for Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania-based Spouting Rock, which last year finalized its acquisition of Penn Capital and in doing so quadrupled its assets under management.

The partnership establishes a means of distributing Alquity’s ESG and impact products stateside, including its Global Impact, Future World Global Emerging Markets and Indian Subcontinent funds.

“The North American market is an exciting opportunity to make a difference and deliver impact at scale. Both the US and Canada are prime markets to get ahead of the ESG and impact curve,” Alquity CEO Brad Crombie stated.

The firm’s founder, Paul Robinson, said the new market has much potential for the company’s funds.

“Building a presence in the US market will create an opportunity for us to achieve a quantum leap in AUM and therefore the lives we transform,” Robinson said.

“Alquity is all about building a better, fairer and more sustainable world. Our portfolios drive better corporate behaviors and progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

Spouting Rock Asset Management launched in 2018 out of a family office and is a multi-boutique firm providing alternative, traditional and thematic investment options.

As of the end of March, Spouting Rock’s total AUM, including non-discretionary assets, sat at $3.1bn.

Alquity, which launched in 2010, has investments globally and reports AUM of $126m as of the end of March.

GMO hires new head of ESG

Deborah Ng will lead the company's sustainable initiatives

Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo (GMO) has recently hired a new head of ESG and sustainability.

In her new position, Deborah Ng is tasked with “leading and accelerating the firm’s ESG and sustainability-related initiatives,” Boston-based GMO said in a statement.

Ng was previously head of responsible investing for the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

Deborah Ng

The firm added more about the new position: “Specific areas of focus will include working closely with the firm’s investment teams as they conduct innovative research and further integrate material ESG factors into their processes; partnering with members of GMO’s Investment Stewardship Group to expand issuer engagement activities; and advancing the firm’s own sustainability goals.”

Ng sits on the United Church Pension Plan’s investment committee and previously was on the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark’s board.

JPM, Wellington among $200m of new investments in energy data biz

Arcadia aims to show people where their electricity comes from and help them decarbonize

Energy data and tech company Arcadia has received a flood of new funding from the likes of JP Morgan Asset Management, Wellington Management, Salesforce Ventures and others.

Through its tenth funding round, its Series E, Arcadia raised $200m, which was led by JP Morgan’s Sustainable Growth Equity team, the late-stage venture and growth equity within JP Morgan Private Capital, the companies announced Tuesday.

The new funding round more than doubles the money the company has raised since it launched in 2014, bringing the total to more than $370m, according to data from Crunchbase.

Arcadia bills itself as “the technology company empowering energy innovators to fight the climate crisis” and provides extensive data about electricity use that can help users wean themselves from energy generated through fossil fuels.

For example, the company recently launched a service called Arc that allows users to see what times of day are associated with the highest cost or highest carbon in utilities grids across the country. That can help electric car owners decide when to charge to avoid times when power is more likely to be coming from fossil fuels. Arcadia also runs a community solar program that lets homeowners and renters join local solar farms.

“The recent IPCC report on mitigation highlights the necessity of accelerating innovation at scale to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, decarbonize the power grid and help communities develop renewable power,” JP Morgan senior climate scientist Sarah Kapnick said in a statement. “By exposing foundational energy data and building APIs, Arcadia is enabling the rapidly growing sector of companies building in this space.”

The new round of funding “will help accelerate the impact of Arcadia’s data and API platform, Arc, by expanding data coverage and new product development to empower companies to monitor, report and act on their carbon impact,” the company stated in Tuesday’s announcement.

Lombard Odier IM hires carbon strategist

Ruben Lubowski joins in a new role as chief carbon and environmental markets strategist

Lombard Odier Investment Managers has hired Ruben Lubowski for a newly created role as chief carbon and environmental markets strategist. He will be responsible for developing carbon and nature-based solutions products, including working on Lombard Odier’s first carbon strategy for private markets set to launch this year.

Lubowski is based in New York and has previously held roles as chief natural resource economist and associate vice-president for climate and forests at the Environmental Defense Fund in New York. He also co-founded and serves as special adviser to the Emergent Forest Finance Accelerator, which manages and provides the platform for the LEAF Coalition, a public-private initiative that mobilized $1bn to protect tropical forests last year. He has advised governments and stakeholders around the world on carbon markets design and has testified to the US Senate on the role of forest and agriculture offsets. He also serves as Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, specializing in carbon pricing and economic analysis of environmental policies. He has previously held professorship and economist roles in related fields at New York University, Harvard University and the US Department of Agriculture.

He reports to Lorenzo Bernasconi, head of climate and environmental solutions, who said: “Ruben brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise that will be invaluable to the growth of the firm’s carbon and nature-based investment offering. The carbon markets are growing and evolving rapidly, driven by the wave of both government and corporate commitments to address climate change.”