Evergreen to launch ESG rating site

Evergreen Consultants will launch a dedicated environmental, social and governance (ESG) index website at the end of the month, which aims to become “the” ESG index for the industry.

Angela Ashton, Evergreen Consultants founder and director, said the launch would be around the end of the month or early August.

“[The website] will basically house all those [ESG] scores and you can have some functionality around searching for funds, building portfolios and storing them just around ESG characteristics, and you can compare them against sector averages,” Ashton said.

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“We’re madly trying to score as many managers as we can for this launch and trying to get it up to speed as we can, and we’ll continue to roll out new functionality and sell it to advisers.”

Evergreen could not confirm the price of the service yet to Money Management, but it was expected to be only a few hundred dollars a year.

“The idea is that there is no real barrier, that we just make enough to cover our costs and hopefully pump in enough resources to get it to where we want it to go,” Ashton said.

“But we want this to be ‘the’ ESG index and what we think we can do compared to our competitors is get that massive scale.

“Because we can score fixed income funds, we can score anything, whereas other approaches really only look at equities.

“We started with the Macquarie list and another platform list; we’re just trying to get those funds that are broadly used by advisers.”

Ashton said there was demand for the service from investors, fund managers and super funds, but hoped that advisers would pick up on the service.

It was hoped advisers would pick it up as it would help bridge the knowledge gap when it came to properly accessing ESG options for clients.

“What we’re finding is that investors like super funds are obviously demanding it and fund managers are really tuned to it because of super funds,” Ashton said.

“What we’re seeing is investors want it and fund managers are driving towards that, but there are still barriers for advisers and they are completely perplexed by what is going on.

“There is an undercurrent of it, but it’s not mainstream yet. I’ve been in this industry for 30 years now so we’ve seen the responsible investment wave come and go a couple of times, but this is more than a fad this time.

“In three or four years’ time this will be embedded, it’s just a matter of trying to get enough education to advisers to make them feel comfortable with the decisions and make sure they understand what they’re buying.”

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