Investing in the future

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Passive investments are vital to drive positive change in terms of the environment, but more ETFs need to exclude fossil fuels, an impact investing expert has warned.

Speaking as a keynote at the end of last year at GIM’s sister title Expert Investor’s ESG Congress, Wermuth Asset Management founder Jochen Wermuth said more passive exchange traded funds (ETFs) that exclude fossil fuels need to be created for the industry to have a positive impact on ESG issues.

“By excluding the fossil fuel companies in the long term, it will have a positive impact,” he said.

However, he warned: “I would count that as impact but it’s very important not to be invested… in things like cluster bombs and coal mines that promote marketing trends like #positiveimpact – that’s a big issue. We want to make sure that we have a high standard.”

Wermuth noted that the best approach to impact investing with liquid investments was to first exclude the companies on the Carbon Underground 200 list from the portfolio.

“Immediately you have a relatively clear statement that I’ve taken out the biggest oil, gas and coal companies that are listed, and are no longer in my portfolio. I think you have every right to call yourself an impactful portfolio. You could also go all out and call yourself an activist,” he said.

“How would you invest if you were limited to liquid and Ucits? I would exclude the fossil fuels. If I had the luxury of more research, I would think about all the suppliers to fossil fuel companies, I would think about the combustion engine market and the suppliers to them and exclude those.

“Then, you’d probably have an outperformance over the next 10 years or even 100 years because these industries are likely to disappear.”

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