11 May 2020
At the start of 2020, optimism was high on the ESG front. We looked forward to seeing the fruition of the Paris Agreement, progress towards the European Green Deal (what Ursula van der Layden called Europe’s ‘man on the moon moment’), the launch of an EU sustainability classification system or ‘green taxonomy’ and introduction of new climate benchmarks. Whilst some actions have been delayed out of necessity, for example the postponement of COP26 in Glasgow, ESG has remained top of mind for many investors during the COVID-19 crisis.
In the first quarter of this year, European-domiciled ESG ETFs enjoyed net inflows of $6.8 billion, taking the combined AUM to $35.3 billion.1 Remarkably, inflows have been constant throughout recent months, even with flows into equity ETFs turning negative in March. And this built on record flows in the precious year as shown in the chart.
Clearly, in absolute terms ESG investments are still not mainstream, and this helps the momentum. Investors are still transitioning, making sustainability integral to portfolio construction and risk management, exiting investments that present a high sustainability-related risk and buying into the growing range of ESG ETFs available. So far, the economic and health crisis surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the trend, knocking earlier critics who thought ESG would not survive difficult markets.
Source: Morningstar, as of 31 March 2020. Flows are as of the date indicated and should not be relied upon thereafter
ESG is highly relevant
Outperformance of ESG indices. It has long been debated how well ESG funds would perform compared to traditional funds during market sell-offs. There have been few opportunities to settle this debate given that the growth of ESG investing in recent years has occurred against a relatively benign market backdrop.
Until now. The highest profile ESG indices from major providers including MSCI, S&P and STOXX have outperformed their parent indices so far this year. This was highlighted by a study from Morningstar, which found that sustainable and ESG equity indices outperformed conventional indices in the Global, Europe and US Large-Cap categories.1 The reasons for the relative performance depend on the methodology of each index but could be a result of excluding some aerospace companies, lower exposure to the energy sector, or the overweighting of companies with quaity criteria (such as stronger balance sheets), which often rank highest under ESG criteria.
New focus on the ‘S’ in ESG. The social part of ESG analysis has often been perceived as rather vague and less significant than other factors. However, social considerations are highly important in this crisis, with factors such as accessibility and affordability of health care (including drug pricing), financial services, utilities, education and telecommunications. Also high on the agenda is a company’s ability to create and maintain a safe and healthy workplace environment.
Asset managers’ engagement is important. At State Street Global Advisors, as shareholders we encourage companies to refrain from undertaking undue risks that are beneficial in the short-term but harm longer-term financial stability and the sustainability of the business model. Communication is always amongst our top priorites for company management. Now shareholders should expect communication on the short and medium-term potential impact the COVID-19 pandemic on the business, overall operations and supply chains, including management preparedness and scenario planning and analysis. We also want to hear how this crisis might impact or influence a company’s approach to material ESG issues as part of their long-term business strategy.
Simple is sometimes the best option
Asset management plays a pivotal role in the financial system, given the industry’s vast portfolios under management, interactions with companies and power in shaping government policy as a key economic sector. State Street Global Advisors uses its voice in far-reaching stewardship activities and has built a large number of ESG solutions.
For investors looking to invest in an ESG strategy for the first time, to show a commitment to this revolution, SPDR offers a straightforward approach. We have two ETFs offering broad exposure to key indices, S&P 500 and STOXX 600, with the most popular exclusions. These ETFs are managed with a transparent methodology and a ‘Fast Exit’ feature to react quickly to breaking ESG controversies.
The exclusion criteria aim to eliminate exposure to controversial weapons and civilian firearms, tobacco and thermal coal, as well as companies that do not comply with the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact. The aim to is to exclude certain major ESG risks without deviating too far from the market. The methodology has resulted in low tracking error and similar performance characteristics to the parent indices.
Despite the relative simplicity of these ESG exclusion indices, they have also outperformed their parent benchmarks year to date.
How to play this theme
SPDR offers two ETFs through which investors can access these themes. To learn more about these funds, and to view full performance histories, please follow the links below:
Sources: Bloomberg Finance L.P., for the period 30 April – 7 May 2020. Flows are as of date indicated and should not be relied upon as current thereafter
Marketing communication. For professional clients only.
Austria: The offering of SPDR ETFs by the Company has been notified to the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) in accordance with section 139 of the Austrian Investment Funds Act. Prospective investors may obtain the current sales Prospectus, the articles of incorporation, the KIID as well as the latest annual and semi-annual report free of charge from State Street Global Advisors GmbH, Brienner Strasse 59, D-80333 Munich. T: +49 (0)89-55878-400. F+49 (0)89-55878-440.
Finland: The offering of funds by the Companies has been notified to the Financial Supervision Authority in accordance with Section 127 of the Act on Common Funds (29.1.1999/48) and by virtue of confirmation from the Financial Supervision Authority the Companies may publicly distribute their Shares in Finland. Certain information and documents that the Companies must publish in Ireland pursuant to applicable Irish law are translated into Finnish and are available for Finnish investors by contacting State Street Custodial Services (Ireland) Limited, 78 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2, Ireland.
France: This document does not constitute an offer or request to purchase shares in the Companies. Any subscription for shares shall be ade in accordance with the terms and conditions specified in the complete Prospectuses, the KIID, the addenda as well as the Companies’ Supplements. These documents are available from the Company centralising correspondent: State Street Banque S.A., 23-25 rue Delariviere- Lefoullon, 92064 Paris La Defense Cedex or on the French part of the site spdrs.com. The Companies re undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS) governed by Irish law and accredited by the Central Bank of Ireland as a UCITS n accordance with European Regulations. European Directive no. 2014/91/ EU dated 23 July 2014 on UCITS, as amended, established common rules pursuant to the cross-border marketing of UCITS with which they duly comply. This common base does not exclude differentiated implementation. This is why a European UCITS can be sold in France even though its activity does not comply with rules identical to those governing the approval of this type of product in France. The offering of these compartments has been notified to the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) in accordance with article L214- 2-2 of the French Monetary and Financial Code.
Germany: The offering of SPDR ETFs by the Companies has been notified to the Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (BaFin) in accordance with section 312 of the German Investment Act. Prospective investors may obtain the current sales Prospectuses, the articles of incorporation, the KIIDs as well as the latest annual and semiannual report free of charge from State Street Global Advisors GmbH, Brienner Strasse 59, D-80333 Munich. T: +49 (0)89-55878-400.
Ireland: State Street Global Advisors Ireland Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Registered office address 78 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2. Registered number 145221. T: +353 (0)1 776 3000. F: +353 (0)1 776 3300. Web: ssga.com.
Italy: State Street Global Advisors Limited, Milan Branch (Sede Secondaria di Milano) is a branch of State Street Global Advisors Ireland Limited, registered in Ireland with company number 145221, authorised and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland, and whose registered office is at 78 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2, with a capital of GBP 62’350’000, and whose registered office is at 20 Churchill Place, London E14 5HJ. State Street Global Advisors Limited, Milan Branch (Sede Secondaria di Milano), is registered in Italy with company number 06353340968 - R.E.A. 1887090 and VAT number 06353340968 and whose office is at Via dei Bossi, 4 - 20121 Milano, Italy. T: 39 02 32066 100. F: 39 02 32066 155.
Luxembourg: The Companies have been notified to the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier in Luxembourg in order to market its shares for sale to the public in Luxembourg and the Companies are notified Undertakings in Collective Investment for Transferable Securities (UCITS).
Netherlands: This communication is directed at qualified investors within the meaning of Section 2:72 of the Dutch Financial Markets Supervision Act (Wet op het financieel toezicht) as amended. The products and services to which this communication relates are only available to such persons and persons of any other description should not rely on this communication. Distribution of this document does not trigger a licence requirement for the Companies or SSGA in the Netherlands and consequently no prudential and conduct of business supervision will be exercised over the Companies or SSGA by the Dutch Central Bank (De Nederlandsche Bank N.V.) and the Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (Stichting Autoriteit Financiële Markten). The Companies have completed their notification to the Authority Financial Markets in the Netherlands in order to market their shares for sale to the public in the Netherlands and the Companies are, accordingly, investment institutions (beleggingsinstellingen) according to Section 2:72 Dutch Financial Markets Supervision Act of Investment Institutions.
Norway: The offering of SPDR ETFs by the Companies has been notified to the Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway (Finanstilsynet) in accordance with applicable Norwegian Securities Funds legislation. By virtue of a confirmation letter from the Financial Supervisory Authority dated 28 March 2013 (16 October 2013 for umbrella II) the Companies may market and sell their shares in Norway.
Spain: State Street Global Advisors SPDR ETFs Europe I and II plc have been authorised for public distribution in Spain and are registered with the Spanish Securities Market Commission (Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores) under no.1244 and no.1242. Before investing, investors may obtain a copy of the Prospectus and Key Investor Information Documents, the Marketing Memoranda, the fund rules or instruments of incorporation as well as the annual and semi-annual reports of State Street Global Advisors SPDR ETFs Europe I and II plc from Cecabank, S.A. Alcalá 27, 28014 Madrid (Spain) who is the Spanish Representative, Paying Agent and distributor in Spain or at spdrs.com. The authorised Spanish distributor of State Street Global Advisors SPDR ETFs is available on the website of the Securities Market Commission (Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores).
Switzerland:The collective investment schemes referred to herein are collective investment schemes under Irish law. Prospective investors may obtain the current sales prospectus, the articles of incorporation, the KIID as well as the latest annual and semi-annual reports free of charge from the Swiss Representative and Paying Agent, State Street Bank International GmbH, Munich, Zurich Branch, Beethovenstrasse 19, 8027 Zurich as well as from the main distributor in Switzerland, State Street Global Advisors AG, Beethovenstrasse 19, 8027 Zurich. Before investing please read the prospectus and the KIID, copies of which can be obtained from the Swiss representative, or at spdrs.com
United Kingdom: The Companies are recognised schemes under Section 264 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (“the Act”) and are directed at ‘professional clients’ in the UK (within the meaning of the rules of the Act) who are deemed both knowledgeable and experienced in matters relating to investments. The products and services to which this communication relates are only available to such persons and persons of any other description should not rely on this communication. Many of the protections provided by the UK regulatory system do not apply to the operation of the Companies, and compensation will not be available under the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme.
This document has been issued by State Street Global Advisors Ireland (“SSGA”), regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Registered office address 78 Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2. Registered number 145221. T: +353 (0)1 776 3000. Fax: +353 (0)1 776 3300. Web: ssga.com.
SPDR ETFs is the exchange traded funds (“ETF”) platform of State Street Global Advisors and is comprised of funds that have been authorised by Central Bank of Ireland as open-ended UCITS investment companies.
State Street Global Advisors SPDR ETFs Europe II plc issue SPDR ETFs, and is an open-ended investment company with variable capital having segregated liability between its sub-funds. The Company is organised as an Undertaking for Collective Investments in Transferable Securities (UCITS) under the laws of Ireland and authorised as a UCITS by the Central Bank of Ireland.
The information provided does not constitute investment advice as such term is defined under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (2014/65/EU) or applicable Swiss Regulator and it should not be relied on as such. It should not be considered a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell any investment. It does not take into account any investor’s or potential investor’s particular investment objectives, strategies, tax status, risk appetite or investment horizon. If you require investment advice you should consult your tax and financial or other professional advisor. All information is from SSGA unless otherwise noted and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy is not guaranteed. There is no representation or warranty as to the current accuracy, reliability or completeness of, nor liability for, decisions based on such information and it should not be relied on as such.
ETFs trade like stocks, are subject to investment risk and will fluctuate in market value. The investment return and principal value of an investment will fluctuate in value, so that when shares are sold or redeemed, they may be worth more or less than when they were purchased. Although shares may be bought or sold on an exchange through any brokerage account, shares are not individually redeemable from the fund. Investors may acquire shares and tender them for redemption through the fund in large aggregations known as “creation units.” Please see the fund’s prospectus for more details.
The trademarks and service marks referenced herein are the property of their respective owners. Third party data providers make no warranties or representations of any kind relating to the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the data and have no liability for damages of any kind relating to the use of such data.
The views expressed in this material are the views of SPDR EMEA Strategy & Research through the period ending 11 May 2020 and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This document contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.
Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.
All forms of investments carry risks, including the risk of losing all of the invested amount. Such activities may not be suitable for everyone.
Investing in foreign domiciled securities may involve risk of capital loss from unfavourable fluctuation in currency values, withholding taxes, from differences in generally accepted accounting principles or from economic or political instability in other nations.
Standard & Poor’s, S&P and SPDR are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC (S&P); Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC (Dow Jones); and these trademarks have been licensed for use by S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC (SPDJI) and sublicensed for certain purposes by State Street Corporation. State Street Corporation’s financial products are not sponsored, endorsed, sold or promoted by SPDJI, Dow Jones, S&P, their respective affiliates and third party licensors and none of such parties make any representation regarding the advisability of investing in such product(s) nor do they have any liability in relation thereto, including for any errors, omissions, or interruptions of any index.
The returns on a portfolio of securities which exclude companies that do not meet the portfolio's specified ESG criteria may trail the returns on a portfolio of securities which include such companies. A portfolio's ESG criteria may result in the portfolio investing in industry sectors or securities which underperform the market as a whole.
Responsible-Factor (R-Factor®) scoring is designed by State Street to reflect certain ESG characteristics and does not represent investment performance. Results generated out of the scoring model is based on sustainability and corporate governance dimensions of a scored entity.
Investing in foreign domiciled securities may involve risk of capital loss from unfavorable fluctuation in currency values, withholding taxes, from differences in generally accepted accounting principles or from economic or political instability in other nations.
The whole or any part of this work may not be reproduced, copied or transmitted or any of its contents disclosed to third parties without SSGA’s express written consent.
The information contained in this communication is not a research recommendation or ‘investment research’ and is classified as a ‘Marketing Communication’ in accordance with the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (2014/65/EU). This means that this marketing communication (a) has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research (b) is not subject to any prohibition on dealing ahead of the dissemination of investment research.
You should obtain and read the SPDR prospectus and relevant Key Investor Information Document (KIID) prior to investing, which may be obtained from spdrs.com. These include further details relating to the SPDR funds, including information relating to costs, risks and where the funds are authorised for sale.
1Source: Morningstar, as of 2 April 2020.