Goldman Sachs names global ESG head for investment management arm

Institutional client head Lawson takes on further responsibilities.

Goldman Sachs has named Hugh Lawson to lead environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts for its Investment Management Division (IMD) globally.

The division comprises the largely institutional investor focused Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Private Wealth Management, which caters to high net worth clients. GSAM has just over $1trn in assets under supervision on behalf of pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, central banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions.

Lawson will continue as the global head of Institutional Client Strategy at GSAM. He’s also an advisor to Goldman’s internal Global Portfolio Solutions (GPS) Investment Committee. Previously, he was co-head of Alternative Capital Markets and prior to that he was co-head of the Hedge Fund Strategies Group. He joined Goldman Sachs in 1997 and spent seven years in Hong Kong and London before returning to New York in 2003.

Last year he became a trustee of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the $850m charitable foundation which has very publicly exited fossil fuels. Lawson will work with portfolio management and client facing teams to develop ESG strategy, capabilities, and product offerings and chair a cross-functional ESG Working Group.

“As a division, we are committed to being a leader in ESG investing solutions as clients consider their portfolios on a broader set of metrics,” said investment management co-chiefs Timothy O’Neill and Eric Lane in an internal announcement seen by RI.They added: “As individual and institutional investors seek to better align their portfolios with their broader values and objectives, IMD will provide market-leading ESG investment opportunities, advice, and portfolio analytics for our clients.”

“We will provide market-leading ESG investment opportunities, advice, and portfolio analytics.”

The appointment is the latest sign that investment banks are increasing their ESG firepower. Just yesterday RI reported that a new $500m green bond from Morgan Stanley highlighted its sustainability push.

And elsewhere, Bank of America Merrill Lynch has announced that it has added sustainable impact multi-asset class portfolios to its growing platform of impact portfolios. The portfolios will seek to deliver a competitive risk-adjusted return as well as a positive environmental, social, governance (ESG) profile relative to a traditional, non-ESG focused, benchmark. The portfolios will include mutual funds as well as exchange traded funds.

“Clients are telling us they want their portfolios to reflect their values and help improve the world they live in,” said Andy Sieg, head of Global Wealth and Retirement Solutions.