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The views expressed are those of the authors at the time of writing. Other teams may hold different views and make different investment decisions. The value of your investment may become worth more or less than at the time of original investment. While any third-party data used is considered reliable, its accuracy is not guaranteed. For professional, institutional, or accredited investors only. Please refer to the risk section below.
Impact investing provides funding to companies and bond issuers actively addressing the world’s major social or environmental challenges. Impact investors like us intentionally direct capital with the aim of generating positive outcomes for people and the planet while seeking to deliver competitive investment returns.
We focus our research on 11 impact themes, centred on life essentials, human empowerment and the environment. Life essentials covers affordable housing, clean water and sanitation, health and sustainable agriculture. Human empowerment seeks to address the digital divide, education and job training and financial inclusion as well as safety and security. The environmental category encompasses alternative energy, resource efficiency and resource stewardship.
To be considered for our impact funds, each potential investment must meet a high bar of alignment with our impact themes. The impact case must be material, with the majority of a company’s revenues or business activities advancing one or more of our themes. The impact of the potential investment must also be additional, addressing a specific need that is unlikely to be met by other agents, be it competitors, governments or non-governmental organisations.
We believe it is also important to understand a company’s or an issuer’s holistic impact. For example, with green bonds, we scrutinise not just the use the bond’s proceeds will be put to, but also the issuer’s wider business activities. With government bonds, we only invest where the proceeds are being used specifically to address one or more of our impact themes. We also assess any potential investment for unintended negative consequences that would outweigh its positive impact — for instance, the impact of a new recycling facility on local communities or the environmental implications associated with the data storage involved in digital solutions.
Finally, the impact case for each investment must be measurable so that we can quantify and report on its progress over time. We believe investors must be able to analyse, track and measure impact outcomes as thoroughly as they do financial outcomes. We also believe this transparency helps encourage much-needed capital to be directed towards impact companies and issuers.
To measure impact, we create custom key performance indicators (KPIs) for each company or issuer in our portfolios. The KPIs will vary depending on the security, sector or impact theme, but they must all be logical, transparent and based on reliable information, such as science-based insights from our climate research team. For example, we may measure the amount of greenhouse gas emissions avoided by recycling waste instead of sending it to landfills or the percentage of a population provided with clean water, internet access or affordable housing. In addition to monthly publications on our funds’ financial performance, we publish annual reports on KPIs and the impact of our holdings.
When the United Nations (UN) published its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in late 2015, we were pleased to see how well our themes aligned. Today, between our impact equity and bond approaches, our investments address all 17 SDGs, either directly or indirectly.
For each company and issuer in our portfolios, we tag the goals that we believe they align with, as well as any of the 169 underlying targets outlined by the UN. While we do not manage the portfolios to a targeted level of alignment, our high standards for inclusion result in an investment strategy that naturally supports many of the SDGs. All the companies and issuers we invest in offer what we consider to be much-needed solutions to many of the major challenges identified in the SDGs. Wellington is proud to continue supporting the UN SDGs.
Both equities and bonds provide excellent opportunities for impact investing, with large and growing opportunity sets. In fact, we believe the two asset classes provide complementary impact exposures and can be blended within a broader portfolio to create compelling synergies. Some themes are easier to access for fixed income managers, such as affordable housing bonds issued by local housing associations. Other themes, such as financial and digital inclusion, are more accessible for equity managers.
We believe impact investing does not entail giving up return potential. Both the Wellington Global Impact Fund and the Wellington Global Impact Bond Fund aim to deliver competitive returns for clients alongside positive social and environmental outcomes. All our impact investments must meet specific financial thresholds to be considered for inclusion in our portfolios. In our view, many of the companies we target also benefit from structural tailwinds given their focus on products and services that seek to address some of the world’s most pressing issues. Companies that can provide effective solutions to those problems are likely to see healthy growth in their revenue and market share in the years to come.
After defining the universe of potential investments that meet our impact criteria, we focus on selecting the best combination of securities to reach our financial objectives, via bottom-up research. Key to successfully building and managing portfolios, in our view, is our multi-disciplinary approach. We regularly integrate the insights and perspectives provided by Wellington’s global teams of experienced research professionals across industries, asset classes and investment styles. This includes close collaboration with our career credit analysts and industry specialists, who provide detailed insights at the security, industry and sector level. We also draw heavily on the expertise of our dedicated ESG research and climate research teams.
We seek to enhance both the impact and the financial value of our portfolios further through active engagement with company management teams and boards. Engagement helps us identify opportunities for companies to improve, measure and report on their impact activities. It also allows us to report more meaningful data at the issuer and portfolio level. Ultimately, engagement creates an important feedback loop and mechanism to help us deliver and measure impact.
Impact investing is an exciting space where we get to help clients align their financial objectives with social and environmental aspirations. We are committed to helping investors appreciate the potential benefits of directing their equity and fixed income allocations towards solutions that help people and the planet while pursuing their investment goals.
For professional and institutional investors only. This material and its contents are current at the time of writing and may not be reproduced or distributed in whole or in part, for any purpose, without the express written consent of Wellington Management. This material is not intended to constitute investment advice or an offer to sell, or the solicitation of an offer to purchase, shares or other securities. Investing involves risk and an investment may lose value. Investors should always obtain and read an up-to-date investment services description or prospectus before deciding whether to appoint an investment manager or to invest in a fund.
Except where registered for public sale, Fund units are offered only to qualified or professional investors on a basis that it does not require the registration of the Fund for public sale. The Fund only accepts professional clients or investment through financial intermediaries. Please refer to the latest Key Investor Information Document (KIID), the Fund offering documents for further risk factors, pre-investment disclosures, and the latest annual report (and semi-annual report) before investing. KIIDs are available in the official languages of each country in which the Fund is registered for sale (please visit www.wellington.com/KIIDs). UCITS Funds are authorised and regulated as a UCITS scheme by the Central Bank of Ireland-Wellington Management Funds (Ireland) plc.
This material is provided by Wellington Management International Limited (WMIL), a firm authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK.
Our approach to sustainable investing