Colonial First State Global Asset Management’s Berrutti sets up sustainable finance platform

‘Googling isn’t enough to connect the dots’ says firm’s Head of Responsible Investing

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Colonial First State Global Asset Management’s Pablo Berrutti is behind a new online sustainable finance hub dedicated to “facilitating, promoting and influencing” the finance industry towards “long-term, sustainable and purposeful allocation of capital”.
The new not-for-profit initiative called Altiorem – meaning ‘higher’ in Latin – is scheduled to go live later this year.
It aims to “identify, collect and curate” the existing wealth of sustainability information in one place, making it easier for individuals within organisations to make the “business, investment, economic and ethical case for change and better incorporate sustainability issues into existing practices”.
Berrutti, Colonial First State Global Asset Management’s Head of Responsible Investing (Asia Pacific), is a prominent figure in the Australian sustainable finance world, serving as Deputy Chair of the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) and sitting on the Management Committee of the Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC).
Altiorem’s board also includes Nick Edgerton, Portfolio Manager for Stewart Investor’s Worldwide Sustainability Fund and Yen Wong Head of Credit Research at Sydney-based asset manager Altius. Wong developed the first Australian bond fund for sustainability.
Berrutti told RI he believed that “googling isn’t enough to get you the information you need to connect the dots on sustainability and build the investment and business case; we are trying to connect those dots and make it more efficient for people”.
He added that the site will be more of “a sign-post than a repository”.
“What we are going to try to do is [provide] brief summaries and profiles of organisations and research and direct people to those”.
Berrutti told RI that he was inspired to develop the hub due to the number of people approaching him about sustainability. It became apparent, he said, “that many more people than I can meet for coffee care about climate change and human rights and want to advocate for change, but there is nothing really there to help them”.
To drive the project, Berrutti has gone part-time in his role at the Sydney-based asset manager known as First State Investments outside of Australia, dedicating one day a week to the new initiative.Altiorem, he said, has been financed by a couple of individuals who support the project’s ambitions, but added that further funds will be needed to get it off the ground.

“Many more people than I can meet for coffee care about climate change and human rights” – Pablo Berrutti

Information on the hub will be quality checked by what Berrutti described as an “army” of student volunteers from the University of Technology Sydney, who will filter submissions using “strict guidelines and templates”.
Berrutti left open the possibility of collaboration with Australia’s Sustainable Finance Initiative, whose secretariat is the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) and which, last month, announced it was is looking for members for four technical working groups that will help create the country’s sustainable roadmap.
Altiorem, which has received the blessing of both the UN-supported PRI and RIAA, according to Berrutti, aims to go live in September, though Berrutti added December or January may be more realistic.
Colonial First State Global Asset Management, which is in the process of being acquired by Japanese banking giant Mitsubishi UFJ from Commonwealth Bank of Australia in a deal estimated to be worth around $4bn, announced this month that it would divest all tobacco holdings by December 2019.

Staying in Australia, a resolution calling on Rio Tinto Ltd to report on its transition plans to align with the Paris climate agreement, including setting scope 1, 2, and 3 targets, has been supported by just 6% of shareholders at the annual meeting of the Australian arm of the mining giant (9 May).
Swedish pension fund AP7 supported the resolution, but Local Government Super – which filed a climate lobbying resolution at Rio last year with AP7 – did not.
Market Forces, the non-profit who filed this year’s resolution, told RI that the lack of support calls into question Climate Action 100+ investors’ commitment to “take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across their value chain, consistent with the Paris Agreement…”.