Responsible Funds, June 21: MAPFRE, La Financière de l’Echiquier, Ossiam, NEST, BlackRock, AlianceBernstein, Invesco

The latest responsible funds news

MAPFRE AM, the fund management arm of the European and Latin American insurance company, has launched an investment fund aimed at supporting the inclusion of disabled people within their workforces. Thought to be the first of its kind, the MAPFRE Inclusión Responsable fund invests companies who are leaders in employing people with disabilities. The methodology, developed by MAPFRE AM and French ESG boutique La Financiere Responsable (LFR), is based on a questionnaire of 40 questions. MAPFRE AM said its research had shown that companies selected for inclusion would be four times more profitable than the market as a whole. The fund is being launched in France and marketed throughout the rest of Europe by the end of this year.

French fund house La Financière de l’Echiquier has added a new sustainable growth fund to its range of European equity funds. Designed to allow partial exposure to equities with reduced volatility, the Echiquier Alpha Major SICAV uses a hedging strategy that is implemented via futures on the Eurostoxx 50 index and other major European indices. Net equity exposure can range from 0% to 40%. The fund draws on the strategy behind the Echiquier Major SRI Equity Growth fund, which was launched in early 2019 when the group extended ESG integration to its entire fund range.

Invesco has launched a range of passive exchange traded fund (ETFs) that weight companies on ESG factors and exclude ESG laggards while offering low-cost, broad equity exposure. The Invesco MSCI ESG Universal Screened UCITS ETFs aim to match the performance of customised versions of the MSCI ESG Universal indices, and offer a choice of geographical exposures to the USA, Europe and the World. The indices are reviewed and rebalanced every six months.

The Luxembourg Finance Labelling Agency (LuxFLAG), a state-supported non-profit body which runs the Grand Duchy’s sustainable fund label, has reported that labelled fund assets under management increased by more than 50% in 2018. During LuxFLAG’s AGM, the non-profit also announced that it also saw a 30% increase in the number of labels issued last year.Natixis affiliate Ossiam has launched a new ETF which combines factor and ESG investing to select large, mid- and small-cap US equities. The Ossiam US ESG Low Carbon Equity Factors UCITS ETF, which has been listed on the London Stock Exchange, applies a filter which selects the top 80% ESG-rated stocks from a basket of US equities for each industrial sub-sector before applying several normative filters. Two distinct portfolios – a stock factor portfolio and a sector factor portfolio – are then built from the stocks and equally weighted in the strategy.

UK workplace defined contribution scheme Nest has announced it will be working with RepRisk and Sustainalytics to help it factor in ESG elements into its investment strategy. It follows the news that it would be going tobacco-free across its investments. Nest estimates it will take up to two years to go tobacco-free – the scheme’s exposure to tobacco is worth today approximately £40m.

BlackRock has expanded its sustainable investment offering for UK Charities with the launch of the BlackRock Charities Growth & Income Fund. It’s part of the firm’s range of charity multi-asset funds, which include the Armed Forces Common Investment Fund and Charifaith Common Investment Fund, which represent combined client assets of £545m. It is managed by BlackRock’s 15-strong Multi-Asset Strategies – Diversified Strategies investment team.

Australia: AlianceBernstein has launched a low-carbon strategy with investment from the Myer Foundation and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), according to the Sustainability Report. It said the AB Managed Volatility Equities―Green (Green MVE) strategy is based on the AB Managed Volatility Equities Fund.

MSCI has launched a suite of climate change indexes which re-weights securities based on its proprietary Low Carbon transition score which measures corporate exposure to both transition risks and opportunities. The MSCI Climate Change Indexes has 50% lower exposure to thermal coal and four times less exposure to companies with carbon intensive products than its parent index. Link