Responsible Funds Oct. 20: Who’s launching funds and who’s investing?

The latest responsible funds news.

Standard Life Investments has launched its first impact product this week – a global equity impact fund aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The fund, which will be co-managed by Sarah Norris and Dominic Byrne, focuses on investing in products and services that support the SDGs, using an ‘impact pillars’ framework developed by Standard Life Investments. The fund has a universe of 35-60 stocks and is benchmarked against the MSCI ACWI. Standard Life Investments is part of Standard Life Aberdeen group, which was created in August following the merger of Aberdeen Asset Management and Standard Life.

Blackrock has further expanded its suite of European ESG exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The iShares MSCI World SRI UCITS ETF (SUSW) is the investment giant’s 11 product in the space, and offers global equity coverage with a focus on companies with the strongest ESG ratings. The US passive investment giant currently manages $4.7bn of ESG ETF strategies on behalf of its clients.

Dutch banking giant, Rabobank, has announced that it is launching a $1bn sustainable farming fund in partnership with the United Nations. The financing will go towards helping farmers transition to more sustainable practices as food companies and consumers demand more supply chain transparency. The cost of the three-year programme will be split between the pair. The bank did not provide a full range of specific criteria for sustainability, but said that farmers are regularly measured, and that it will provide updates on the programme’s progress.

UK-based social impact investment company Resonance is set to launch its second regional poverty alleviation fund. The West Midlands Social Investment Tax Relief Fund, which aims to “dismantle poverty” in the region, offers prospective investors access to a portfolio of “high impact” investments with tax relief benefits. The formal Information Memorandum and Application Form will be released in January 2018, and the first financial close will follow shortly after that.Northern Trust, the $1trn Chicago-based wealth manager, has launched two new European ‘best-in-class’ ESG funds, tracking MSCI indices. The Northern Trust World ESG Leaders Equity Index Fund and the Northern Trust Emerging Markets ESG Leaders Equity Index Fund will offer investors access to companies with the highest ESG performance relative to their sector and region. The new funds, which add to Northern Trust’s $10.5bn range of ESG UCITS funds, are the first in Europe to track the MSCI ESG Leaders index.

Change Finance, a US based majority women-run asset manager, has launched a exchange traded fund (ETF) that is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. The Change Finance Diversified Impact US Large Cap Fossil Fuel Free ETF purports to be the “only ETF that uses diversified impact screens to look beyond excluding fossil fuels, taking a comprehensive approach to socially responsible investing”. It has an expense ratio of 0.75%, and intends to catalyse changes in companies through shareholder advocacy. The fund will track the performance of the Change Finance Diversified Impact US Large Cap Fossil Fuel Free Index.

A $100m indigenous land rights fund has reportedly been launched by NGO, Rights and Resources Initiative. The International Land and Forest Tenure Facility will invest at least $10m a year for ten years, with an aim to secure at least 40m hectares of forests and rural lands for local and indigenous communities. The project has been supported by the Ford Foundation, and the Norwegian and Swedish governments.

The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, Dewa, has completed a first close on a green investment fund, according to reports. The fund was created last year to provide reduced-cost loans for investment into renewable energy and efficiency upgrades. The final target is Dh100b ($27m), but Saeed Al Tayer told reporters that the initial capitalisation would be announced during the World Green Economy Summit next week.