Shanghai-based Noah has signed on to the PRI, a network of institutional investors, asset managers and service providers focused on responsible investment.
Although PRI investment principles remain “voluntary and aspirational”, according to the organisation’s website, the sign up could be setting the stage for Noah to launch ESG portfolios for wealth clients.
The firm has wealth management offices in mainland China and is licenced for various financial activities in North America, Australia and Singapore. It is one of only two China-based wealth managers listed on the NYSE.
CEO Jingbo Wang in a recent earnings conference call emphasised that ESG has growing support from Chinese authorities: “In China, regulators and institutions are also actively encouraging and adopting such an approach,” Wang said.
Other wealth managers have noted the trend of regional clients interested in ESG portfolios.
UBS Wealth, for example, launched a sustainable portfolio for global wealth clients in 2018 and has since attracted $1bn in investment from Asia, the firm said.
Pictet Wealth also reversed course and last year said it was working on an Asia-focused ESG solution for wealth management clients.
David Gaud, Pictet’s Singapore-based Asia head of discretionary portfolio management and chief investment officer, cited a trend taking shape among Asia clients to embed ESG factors in the management of their wealth.
In 2017, Noah officials said the firm planned to launch an ESG discretionary managed account for Chinese family offices, but the status of those plans is not unclear.
The firm was contacted but did not respond in time for publication.
Looking at PRI signatories, China has 32 investment managers on the list, including E fund, Harvest and Bosera. Noah is the only independent wealth management firm from China who is a signatory.
Shanghai-based Noah Holdings is a wealth manager focused on high net worth clients. Assets under management were RMB176.5bn ($25bn) as of September 2019 through its wholly-owned subsidiary Gopher Asset Management.