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WWF launches online tool to encourage sustainable investing

Singapore

THE World Wide Fund for nature, best known for its environmental conservation work, is moving further into the world of finance. The group on Thursday released an online tool to help asset managers align their portfolios with a low-carbon, environmentally sustainable future.

Dubbed "Respond" - Resilient and Sustainable Portfolios that Protect Nature and Drive Decarbonization - the tool comes as family offices, private banks and individual investors struggle to judge the green credentials of investment managers who have traditionally been ranked on their ability to turn a profit above all else, amid growing demand for environmentally friendly investments.

The tool is designed to provide a foundation of basic questions that should be asked by ESG-conscious investors as well as a list of best-practice providers. The inaugural report covers 22 European-based firms with Asian operations, which collectively manage US$12.7 trillion, from HSBC Global Asset Management to UBS Asset Management.

"What we're trying to do is support asset managers with a roadmap for implementing sustainability into their overall strategy," said Keith Lee, the WWF's senior vice-president for Asia Sustainable Finance. "Shareholder engagement is a very powerful tool for managing environmental and social risks in the portfolio as well as helping to transform businesses."

Users of the tool can filter their search according to where a firm is based, and assets under management before selecting their scores on a number of indicators, from issues such as climate change to their adherence to Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures guidance.

While family offices and institutional investors will be able to access the tool on request, it's not available to the general public. Mr Lee said this was partly to encourage more large asset managers to come on board. By the next iteration in a year's time, he hopes to have another eight to 10 institutions based in other markets like the US. BLOOMBERG