Anna Hyrske has become a popular Finn. The head of sustainable investing for Ilmarinen, the nation’s $52bn pension fund, sits at the vanguard of a push to improve the world through financial markets. This year alone, Ms Hyrske has dropped $1.6bn into two exchange traded funds designed to address the world’s ills – from climate change and child labour to the dearth of female executives. The amount was roughly split between ETF portfolios from asset manager BlackRock and DWS, the fund management arm of Deutsche Bank. The inflows instantly made both funds among the fastest growing ETFs on record, giving the Finnish fund a rare shot of attention. “After those two launches the phone has been ringing and ringing,” said Ms Hyrske, as fund managers call to pitch ideas for Ilmarinen’s portfolio. “We are walking the walk and talking the talk.” The two portfolios form part of a wave of sustainable investing now measuring almost $31tn in assets, according to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, a trade group. This includes $17.5tn managed in “environmental, social and governance” funds, an amount that has risen more than two-thirds in two years as investors, such as Ilmarinen, have reshaped their portfolios. The funds Ilmarinen has backed offer a glimpse into the convergence of two dominant themes reshaping the investment world: the growth of sustainable funds and the shift from active portfolios overseen by professionals towards cheaper, passive strategies that track indices.
FT 1st June 2019 read more »