Karen Wong recently joined State Street Global Advisors as Global Head of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) and Sustainable Investing. We sat down with Karen to discuss her background and ESG priorities in her new role.
A: Yes, prior to State Street I worked at Mellon Investment Corporation for twenty years, most recently as Head of Index Portfolio Management. My interest in sustainable investing started in 2014, when I developed and launched Mellon’s landmark Carbon Efficiency Strategy, the firm’s first green beta product. As a member of Mellon’s ESG Council and BNY Mellon’s ESG Investment Council, I drove ESG integration across the firm and became a champion of ESG investing within Mellon and across the asset management industry. I have also enjoyed coaching at the Oxford Impact Investing Programme.
In my new role, I oversee all of State Street Global Advisors’ ESG functions, including ESG integration and investment strategy, ESG research and data analytics, and asset stewardship. I look forward to further strengthening State Street’s market-leading ESG capabilities and providing the solutions investors need to incorporate material ESG opportunities and risks into their portfolios. In particular, I strongly believe in the value of effective long-term engagement with companies, and I am therefore interested in how State Street can further strengthen its asset stewardship capabilities.
Looking more broadly, there are challenges in investor adoption of ESG, including the quality and consistency of ESG data, and the inconsistent and incomplete disclosure of ESG information by companies. As one of the world’s largest asset managers, State Street Global Advisors intends to continue playing a leadership role in strengthening ESG standards and disclosures through proxy voting and engagement, investor-led initiatives, incisive thought leadership, and public policy advocacy.
There are many ESG initiatives that I am excited to work on, but the most pressing is undoubtedly climate change. The UN IPCC’s report on the devastating impact of climate change across the globe from heatwaves and wildfires to rising sea levels and floods only confirms what we already know – that climate change poses a systemic risk to all investors.
State Street Global Advisors offers a range of performance-targeted solutions to help investors address climate risk and position their portfolio for the transition to a low carbon economy. Addressing climate risk and measuring impact through reporting has been a core, multi-year campaign for the Stewardship team and we have enhanced our reporting by launching our new ‘Annual Climate Stewardship Review’ and web hub dedicated to climate stewardship.
Collective action is critical to expand global ESG awareness and adoption, therefore I’m pleased that State Street Global Advisors is an active signatory of several ESG and climate organizations, including the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) and Climate Action 100+.
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The views expressed in this material are the views of Karen Wong through 16th August 2021 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.
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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.
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