Eq: Tech

Exchange-traded funds focusing on environmental, social and governance themes have been one of the fastest-growing market segments in a couple of years, but so far have yet to reach the acceleration in Asia as they have in the U.S. and EU, until now. The most recent data from the Asian Pacific has more than 1.5x as many funds starting in the first half of 2021 than all of 2020. The asset flows are even more staggering. Inflows since in the first half of 2021 are 10x larger than all of 2016, and they have almost already reached 2020’s $2bn. The standout countries are Australie, China, and Taiwan which comprise over 85% of all the ESG ETF assets. Moreover, these trends are expected to continue with more advantages on transparency and liquidity than other market segments.

FINSUM: These are astounding numbers for ESG growth, and faster-growing economies might not have the incoming restrictions to ESG the US could be facing.

AQR is one of the leading quant funds, and they had a difficult 2021, but they are bouncing back big with a new idea in ESG. Their new Sustainable Long-Short Equity Carbon Aware Fund will pick U.S. and foreign equity on a variety of ESG criteria with a net-zero carbon emissions target, but it will also short funds that aren’t meeting ESG standards. Most funds have stayed only on the positive end of things but CEO Cliff Asness believes shorts selling is a key tool that can be leveraged to reduce carbon emissions. Asness will be a portfolio manager on the funds, and his unique perspective on ESG will be critical in how the fund performs in the upcoming years.

FINSUM: Value quant funds like ESG suffered the last two years relative to the market but so far in 2021 AQR has seen huge inflows and its ESG strategy is part of that.

Word had spread weeks ago that Franklin was in a position to acquire O’Shaughnessy Asset Management (OSAM), but that deal has finalized this week. OSAM will be a bolster an already growing separately managed accounts segment which stands at $130 billion AUM already. However, the big headline is the value-based investing and custom indexing that OSAM provides. The custom indexing platform OSAM owns known as Canvas has grown rapidly and doubled its aum in the last year hitting $2 billion.

FINSUM: This is another headliner deal in direct-indexing. What’s most notable is that many of the deals are coming through acquisitions rather than newer ones originating within the firms themselves.

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