Latest Launches

ISS teams up with Qontigo to launch Biodiversity Index Suite 

The rapid loss of the Earth’s biodiversity is becoming a material risk to investors

Investors looking to reduce the biodiversity footprint of their portfolios are one step closer, with the release of the ISS STOXX Biodiversity Index Suite. Advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and index creator Qontigo joined forces to build a suite of eight indices that screen companies deemed to inflict significant harm to biodiversity or that reduce its footprint.

Axel Lomholt, chief product officer for indices and benchmarks at STOXX said: “This launch comes as global investors are urged by some to account for and price nature into their sustainable investment strategies.”

Seven of the indices track companies with high biodiversity and climate-related Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) scores using three screens. The index methodology targets an aggregate reduction in carbon intensity of at least 30 percent across the included constituents.

Meanwhile, the ISS STOXX Biodiversity Leaders goes one step further. It includes only companies that earn at least 20% of their revenues from activities that are deemed to make a positive net contribution to the UN’s SDGs, like preservation of marine ecosystems and sustainable agriculture and forestry.

ISS STOXX Biodiversity Index Suite’s methodology. Source: Qontigo

The decline in the variety of the Earth’s living species is of growing concern to investors, but how to evaluate this growing risk is far from clear-cut. It is a “complex topic with data challenges”, according to data expert MSCI; as such, there is no general consensus on how investors can measure the impact and risk of biodiversity loss. 

Nevertheless, it is moving up the global agenda. The UN SDGs 14 and 15 are to conserve both life below water and life on land, respectively. To mark International Day for Biological Diversity this year, the UN called on the private sector to invest in impact funds and other instruments, as part of its 23-action oriented goals to build back biodiversity. 196 countries have now signed up to the groundbreaking Kunming-Montreal global biodiversity framework at COP15 in Montreal.

“Investor focus on managing biodiversity impact has the potential to become as significant and enduring as the current focus on climate change,” said Lorraine Kelly, global head of investment stewardship at ISS (pictured).

Touchstone launches thematic climate transition ETF

Active investors can tap into growth companies fighting the climate crisis

Touchstone Investments has launched a Climate Transition ETF allowing investors exposure to companies poised to prosper from the fight against the climate crisis. 

The actively-managed ETF will typically hold around 40-60 stocks that fall into three categories: solution providers, transition leaders and adaptation opportunities. 

These are companies whose growth will benefit from regulations, innovations, services, or products related to the global fight against or adaptation to climate change. It includes traditional corporates such as Mercedes-Benz as well as emerging companies like Danish renewable energy provider Ørsted

This is the first thematic ETF developed by Touchstone Investments, a member of Western & Southern Financial Group, which has already put out four other active ETFs. Thematic investing is a focused way to invest in today’s top trends and the “megatrends” of tomorrow, like the transition to a low-carbon economy. It has boomed in the last four years, with global assets in thematic funds almost tripling between 2019 and 2021 to reach $806bn, according to Morningstar.

Blake Moore (pictured), president and chief executive officer of Touchstone Investments, said: “With interest in both thematic and sustainable investing on the rise, the Climate Transition ETF seeks to provide advisers and the investors they serve with an opportunity to better position investment portfolios and meet long-term goals.”

For its first foray into climate-related ETFs, Touchstone picked Lombard Odier Investment Managers as HEAT’s sub-advisor. Paul Udall, portfolio manager for HEAT at Lombard Odier IM, said: “The transition to a net-zero and climate-resilient world is one of the greatest challenges – and investment opportunities – of our time,” said. 

“We are thrilled to have been selected by Touchstone as the sub-advisory partner of choice to expand their capability in this space. We have a shared prioritization of actively managed strategies that create opportunities for investors amid the climate transition.”

WisdomTree unveils Europe’s first California Carbon Allowances ETP

WCCA gives European investors exposure to the Golden State’s net-zero action plan

The fully collateralized WisdomTree California Carbon ETP (WCCA) is now listed on the London Stock Exchange, Borsa Italiana and Germany’s Börse Xetra, with a management expense ratio of 0.49%.

The New York-based exchange-traded fund provider’s newest exchange-traded product allows European investors to bet on the success of California’s carbon credit system

California’s Air Resources Board issues carbon allowances as part of its “cap-and-trade” emissions trading set-up, a markets-based system aimed at cutting global greenhouse gas emissions and slowing climate change. The market has been one of the fastest growing and is the second most liquid carbon allowance market globally; its futures traded around $1.7bn per month last year.

The WCCA tracks the price movement of ICE California Carbon Allowance Futures through the Solactive California Carbon Rolling Futures TR Index. It complements the $287m WisdomTree Carbon (CARB), a fully collateralized ETP providing exposure to EU carbon allowances.

WCCA product information. Source: WisdomTree

Reducing emissions to net zero is an increasingly important focus for policymakers around the world. California’s scheme is the first of its kind in North America, designed to help the state achieve its new target of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 85% below 1990 levels by 2045.

Alexis Marinof (pictured), head of Europe at WisdomTree, said: “It is, therefore, imperative that investors have access to a wide spectrum of exposures. WCCA removes many of the barriers investors face when allocating to this asset class and builds on WisdomTree’s heritage of bringing hard-to-access exposures to investors through ETPs. 

“We are building a range of differentiated and complementary ETPs that allow investors to participate in the energy transition through thematic equities, commodities, or carbon allowances.”

Carbon credits show potential for environmental impact but people should think twice before using them as strategic investments, cautioned Morningstar. In a report published last year, it found that it is virtually impossible to peg the future financial costs to society of burning carbon today, in order to set caps. It also found little correlation between the nascent carbon credits market and energy prices moves.

Invesco unveils range of ESG ETFs

Four funds will track global sectors including energy and financials

Invesco has expanded its ETF offering with the launch of four global ESG tracker funds amid increased investor demand for sector-specific offerings.

The strategies will track the performance of global sectors within the S&P Developed Ex-Korea Large Mid Cap ESG Enhanced Sector indices and are classified as Article 8 under the European Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation.

The four funds making up the range are:

  • Invesco S&P World Energy ESG UCITS ETF
  • Invesco S&P World Financials ESG UCITS ETF
  • Invesco S&P World Health Care ESG UCITS ETF
  • Invesco S&P World Information Technology ESG UCITS ETF

Each index seeks to enhance its ESG profile and reduce its carbon footprint while minimising country and stock deviations relative to its sector. The funds have an annual charge of 0.18%.

Chris Mellor (pictured), Invesco head of Emea equity ETF product management, said: “In tracking these ESG Enhanced Sector Indices, our new ETFs have the potential to deliver meaningful and measurable improvements above and beyond what would be achieved through exclusions alone.

“The ETFs are also expected to achieve their sustainability objectives while avoiding the risk of having an outsized weight in a small number of stocks. That’s important because, in addition to ESG enhancements, we wanted to ensure our ETFs would be suitable for investors wanting the overall profiles to be similar to standard indices.”

Securities will be excluded from the range based on a variety of factors, including involvement in tobacco, oil or controversial weapons.

The launch adds to Invesco’s wider range of $5.2bn (£4.16bn) assets under management ESG ETFs.

Gary Buxton, head of EMEA ETFs and indexed strategies at Invesco, said: “The strength of flows into ESG strategies over the past few years is partly due to investors wanting to incorporate sustainability throughout their portfolios.

“Beyond core equity and fixed income holdings, we are now seeing many of these investors turn their attention towards more targeted exposures, such as sectors, and quite rightly demanding a similarly robust and thoughtful process for integrating ESG.”

This article first appeared on ESG Clarity’s sister title Portfolio Adviser.

Invesco Canada launches ESG-tilted dividend income ETFs

ESG oversight comes from NEI Investments

Invesco Canada has launched five ETFs that include an ESG overlay to meet the “growing trend” of incorporating sustainability considerations.

The ETFs track several S&P Dividend Aristocrat Indexes and offer exposure to different areas of dividend income.

Bruce Schachne, chief commercial officer at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said: “These indices incorporate dividend-based strategies that reflect the ongoing market sentiment and growing trend of what’s often viewed as a traditional barometer of companies’ financial health combined with sustainability considerations.”

Their ESG oversight comes from NEI Investments, whose head Tim Prescott said the launch was exciting news for Canadians who want to grow their individual wealth while aligning their investments with their values.

NEI’s ESG overlay is focused on three areas: reviewing the integrity and efficacy of the index’s ESG criteria, reviewing holdings where their ESG appropriateness, and advising on proxy voting and ESG collaboration.

The Invesco Dividend Aristocrats ETFs will be the first products Invesco Canada offers with an ESG-tilt on a dividend income strategy.

Two of the five ETFs launching today, which are listed below, will include a series of CAD Hedged Units.

ETF nameIndex
Invesco S&P/TSX Canadian Dividend Aristocrats ESG Index ETF  S&P/TSX Canadian ESG Dividend Aristocrats FMC Weighted
Invesco S&P US Dividend Aristocrats ESG Index ETF (CAD Units)S&P ESG High Yield Dividend Aristocrats FMC Weighted
Invesco S&P US Dividend Aristocrats ESG Index ETF (CAD Hedged Units)  S&P ESG High Yield Dividend Aristocrats FMC Weighted
Invesco S&P International Developed Dividend Aristocrats ESG Index ETF (CAD Units)  S&P International Developed Ex-North America & Korea ESG Dividend Aristocrats FMC Weighted
Invesco S&P International Developed Dividend Aristocrats ESG Index ETF (CAD Hedged Units)  S&P International Developed Ex-North America & Korea ESG Dividend Aristocrats FMC Weighted

Putnam launches sustainable target-date series for retirement savers

The target-date funds will invest in actively managed sustainable and ESG-focused exchange-traded funds managed by Putnam.

Putnam Investments is now offering a series of sustainable target-date funds for the retirement market.

The asset manager announced Friday the launch of Putnam Sustainable Retirement Funds, which will invest in actively managed sustainable and environmental, social and governance-focused exchange-traded funds managed by Putnam. Putnam Sustainable Retirement Funds will invest in ETFs across the asset classes managed by the firm.

Putnam says the funds, which are a revamp of its RetirementReady TDFs, will adhere to a retirement glide path philosophy similar to that of the firm’s other target-date offering, Putnam Retirement Advantage, a series that offers vintages for every five years from 2025 through 2065, along with a maturity fund.

The same team that manages the Putnam Retirement Advantage will be responsible for the glide path and both the tactical and ETF allocations of the Putnam Sustainable Retirement target-date suite.

Putnam is launching the new TDF series in the wake of the Department of Labor’s new rule for retirement plans taking effect last week; the rule allows retirement plan sponsors to consider ESG factors when vetting investments.

“As the retirement marketplace continues to evolve and grow, there is tremendous appetite for meaningful product innovation that creates greater choice of offerings to help working Americans achieve their financial goals,” Robert L. Reynolds, president and CEO of Putnam Investments, said in a statement.

Steven P. McKay, Putnam’s head of global defined-contribution investment only, noted in the statement the “growing interest’ in ESG investing in defined-contribution plans.

“We are excited to deliver this innovative approach to target-date investing to the retirement savings marketplace,” McKay said.

Putnam had over $170 billion in assets under management at the end of January, according to the company.

This story first appeared on InvestmentNews.