Posted inBusiness moves

Abrdn boosts sustainability efforts

A chief sustainability officer is chosen as the UK asset manager converts funds to sustainable products.
Amanda Young, abrdn

Abrdn has created a “sustainability group”, that includes the appointment of Amanda Young to the executive role of chief sustainability officer to lead the group and the sustainability strategy for abrdn’s investments.

The sustainability group will help set investment frameworks and standards, ensure active ownership, and support product design and client reporting, according to the firm.

Young was previously global head of responsible investment; in her new role she will sit on abrdn’s “investment vector executive” for investments to ensure that sustainability remains core to its work, meeting clients’ needs and regulatory requirements. She will report to abrdn’s CEOs for investments, Chris Demetriou (UK, EMEA & Americas) and Rene Buehlmann (Apac).

In addition, there are several other appointments to the sustainability group, effective from 1 April.

Danielle Welsh-Rose will be head of sustainability Apac and head of sustainability specialists, and will also lead the development of abrdn’s sustainability training academy “Grow Sustainably”. She sits on the executive leadership team in Apac and is head of the sustainability institute – Apac. Her previous role was ESG Investment Director (Apac).

Meanwhile, Eva Cairns becomes head of sustainability insights and climate strategy, with a focus on research; Dan Grandage is made head of sustainable investing, tasked with building abrdn’s common approach to sustainable investing; and Mike Everett will become head of active ownership, ensuring that company engagement and voting activities are central to the investment process.

“As client expectations continue to focus increasingly on material ESG matters, we must continue to evolve as an active asset manager to provide solutions which meet these expectations,” said Young.

“The sustainability group will continue to coordinate and set the abrdn house view and standards on sustainability matters including climate change, corporate governance, voting and active ownership to support the investment teams in delivering a coherent ESG integration and engagement strategy,” she added.

Fund conversions

Concurrent with the organisational shake-up, abrdn said that 24 of its Sicav funds are converting in April 2022 to Article 8 under the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR). This includes 18 equity punds, and six fixed income products funds. These fund conversions double abrdn’s current responsible investing-related Sicav AUM, taking it to approximately €16bn ($17.7bn), according to the firm. This is the first phase of several planned conversions that will take place throughout 2022.

An updated investment framework includes formally widening the screening process and removing poorly rated ESG companies from the investment universe. Each fund will also include specific ESG targets and lower carbon intensity than its benchmark.

Abrdn said that it met the SFDR level 1 requirements in March 2021 when it introduced procedures to classify each of its fund products and mandates as Articles 6, 8 or 9, as well as entity and product level sustainability risk disclosures and pre-contractual documentation updates.

“Client demand for sustainable investment products is evolving rapidly and the EU SFDR classification that came into force last year helps the industry deliver greater transparency to investors,” said Devan Kaloo, global head of public markets, abrdn, in a statement.

Part of the Mark Allen Group.