BlackRock has yet to launch an environmental, social and governance (ESG) exchange traded fund (ETF) in Australia and is still weighing up their options for the Australian market.
Earlier in the year, Larry Fink, BlackRock chief executive, published an open letter stating the company would divest from coal and pursue other ESG initiatives.
Christian Obrist, head of iShares for BlackRock Australia, said it was still working on ETF products for this market.
“It’s something we are looking at and investigating, in line with Larry’s letter and commitment around doubling the amount of products that we offer in the ETF space around sustainability,” Obrist said.
“I’ll leave it to you to come to a conclusion with what we’re going to be doing there, but it’s a priority for the firm.
“In Australia we have a market that is quite advanced in this space and we are looking at our options at the moment.”
In the US, BlackRock not only offered ESG iShares ETFs, but also thematic ETFs that focused on a specific ESG issues (ie clean energy or low carbon targets) and impact ETFs which funded sustainable projects.
“We’ve seen investor demand and the conversation that we have with investors really point to growing interest and growing knowledge around the space,” Obrist said.
“ESG is very broad, you’re going from basic screens which might include fossil fuels or controversial weapons, all the way to more advanced ESG strategies.
“In the past there was a misconception around it, that if you wanted to invest in a sustainable manner, you have to give up returns and that really isn’t the case.
“Even through the [market pricing] dislocation, you’ve seen a lot of these sustainable index strategies actually do really well and outperform their equivalent benchmarks.”