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2024: The Year of Customised ESG

In the dynamic landscape of sustainable investing, the partnership between Impact Cubed and MerQube marks a pivotal shift towards highly sophisticated, ESG investment strategies that can be customised to investor priorities. In this article, we explore what 2024 holds for investors, and how our partnership exemplifies the shift towards bespoke ESG indices and the urgent need for investment strategies that are not only sustainable but also tailored to individual investor goals and values:

Understanding the ESG evolution

In its earliest iterations, ESG in the investment mix was predominantly a concern for value-centric organisations like churches or charities and the more enlightened pension funds. However, as we approach 2024, sustainability and broader social and governance issues are becoming a central consideration for a wider range of investors as they respond to client, government and regulatory focus. The reality is that ESG encompasses more nuanced considerations than its three-letter acronym might suggest.  Across the board, professional investors are now dealing with clients who have diverse values and sustainability goals, and pension plan members are increasingly voicing their own perspectives on what sustainability should entail.

Client and plan member alignment

With ESG factors gaining traction in the public consciousness, investors are becoming more particular about the flow and influence of their capital. Campaigns like ‘Make My Money Matter’ featuring Olivia Coleman and growing interest in biodiversity-supportive funds underscore this trend. Adhering to clients’ or plan members’ values has transitioned from a preference to a necessity, often underpinned by regulations such as MIFID requirements.

In this landscape, precise data and advanced technology are pivotal. For example, Impact Cubed’s empirical data facilitates the creation of bespoke solutions, empowering investors to choose from a huge array of ESG factors, and optimise them into a model portfolio. Concurrently, MerQube technology offers a platform for crafting transparent, independent, and easily replicable indices, representing these portfolios with unparalleled efficiency and scalability.

Investors rethink ESG benchmarks: Balancing risk and impact

The era of relying solely on broad-based indexes for diversifying risk is evolving, especially where impact is concerned. The EU’s financial regulators have underlined this shift, stipulating that Article 9 funds must use objective-aligned benchmarks. However, even Paris-aligned benchmarks may not be ambitious enough. Impact Cubed’s research indicates that ESG-aligned benchmarks often fail to achieve maximum efficiency in sustainability goals, such as carbon efficiency, while also compromising risk. (https://www.impactcubed.com/smart-esg-a-revolutionary-approach-to-sustainable-investing ).

3D-ESG

One of the significant challenges for asset owners, managers, and wealth managers is navigating the perceived trade-off between ESG and return. Impact Cubed’s SmartESG capabilities facilitate the creation of bespoke and thematic portfolios. Its unique 3D approach considers ESG as a third dimension alongside risk and return, enabling investors to optimise across all three perspectives simultaneously. This approach empowers investors to get more impact with less expected risk.

Faster go-to-market for index creation

Wealth managers are increasingly recognising the need to offer tailored investment solutions that align with each client’s unique ESG preferences. To efficiently achieve this, they require robust technology that enables customisation at scale. MerQube provides the necessary technological infrastructure to facilitate this process, allowing wealth managers to design and deploy bespoke portfolios rapidly and on a large scale.

Furthermore, for clients who are still exploring their ESG preferences, wealth managers can leverage technology like MerQube to quickly create broader ESG-aligned benchmarks. These benchmarks serve as a starting point for clients, providing them with an ESG-focused investment approach while they refine their specific ESG goals and objectives.

Demand for complex solutions

There is demand from investors to integrate intraday measures, information implied from options markets, and other complex data and methodologies – to aim to improve their strategies’ risk and return characteristics as well as tradability and capability. Leveraging cutting-edge technology such as MerQube provides a solution to many of these growing requirements.

Transparent delivery

As we move into 2024, firms will need to prepare for new levels of transparency in reporting and more nuanced investment strategies. Clients will demand precise capital allocation towards causes that matter to them, with evidence of accurate handling and potential for real change, without compromising returns. The path forward lies in leveraging data and cutting-edge indices. Traditional scoring systems and broad indices will no longer suffice to meet the refined targeting that the evolving market demands. Firms that embrace this change will gain a true competitive edge.

Looking ahead

2024 promises to be a landmark year for ESG investing, with a clear shift towards customisation and precision. As ESG continues to evolve, it’s essential for investors and firms to adapt to these changes, leveraging advanced tools and data to meet the growing demands of discerning clients and regulatory bodies. Impact Cubed, with its innovative approach and technology partners like MerQube are imperative for investors to achieve this.

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