We asked Paul Niven and Simon Holmes, co-managers of BMO's new sustainable multi-asset fund range, about market trends and where they hope to make a positive impact
What do you think is driving fund selection in multi-asset at the moment?
Paul: Investors are looking for well-managed, low cost products that aim to deliver on their outcome requirements. Demand for diversified products is likely to continue following the volatility and uncertainty resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. The Sustainable Universal MAP has the additional benefit of embedding the sustainability angle through all aspects of the process.
What areas do you invest in to make a positive impact on the world?
Simon: They are quite diverse. But one key area is clean energy companies - something I care passionately about - such as firms that build offshore wind capacity. Another aspect is information technology, which can help companies to use their own resources more efficiently. Equally healthcare is an opportunity for us: there's a lot of innovation, it maps well against the UN sustainable development goals, and will only increase in relevance since the coronavirus pandemic.
How closely do you work with BMO's responsible investment team?
Paul: There's several aspects to this. We did a lot of work with them to build our initial multi-asset perspective - what was in and out of scope, and what assets we should be investing in. They sit on the same floor as us, just a few yards from where we sit. So the interaction is easy and frequent.
The underlying investment teams also interact with them very frequently, e.g., members of the responsible team may attend the same meeting as the fund managers and give a perspective on the stocks. So it's not just a question of them providing ESG screening from which managers pick investments. It is integrated in terms of the stock/investment selection processes.
In turn, the responsible team have access to our responsible investment advisory council (RIAC), an independent panel of sustainability experts who give us a valuable perspective on how we look at ESG issues, and ensure we are applying robust and credible criteria.
Click here to read how the team built a more consistent approach to sustainable investing across asset classes
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