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Best Practice Forum - ESG

Financial Standard

7 October 2021 - Virtual Event

The 2021 Best Practice Forum on ESG seeks to define ESG investing and what it means to each client, clarify some of the misconceptions of investing in funds that are screened based on ESG principles and also identify how wealth management professionals can put ESG considerations into practice in their businesses.

The format of the Best Practice Forum on ESG will comprise a mixture of speaker presentations, panel discussions and case studies to help explore the evolving world of ESG considerations.

The forum will explore the grey areas surrounding ESG and 'ethical' investing, examine the market and the products on offer as well as analysing how ESG screened portfolios can be used to gain performance benefits.

The Best Practice Forum on ESG is pending CPD accreditation by Financial Planning Association for CPD hours aligned to FASEA learning areas and ASIC Knowledge Requirements. In 2020 the program was accredited by the FPA for 4.5 learning hours.

Gold Partners

Australian Ethical is Australia's original and fastest-growing super fund and ethical investment manager. Our purpose is to invest for a better world, and we have been pioneers in this space for over 30 years. For us, investing has two aims - generating solid financial returns and a positive impact for people, planet and animals. Thanks to our unique approach to ethical investing, we have a proud history of delivering market-leading financial returns for our customers and contributing to a more sustainable future for everyone. At Australian Ethical, we prove that money can be a force for good. We do this by staying true to our purpose, which is embedded throughout our organisation and drives our everyday activities as a business, investor, brand, employer and corporate citizen. We're a registered B Corp and fully committed to an inclusive, equitable and forward-thinking workplace culture.

ClearBridge Investments is committed to delivering superior risk-adjusted investment performance through authentic active management. As at 31 December 2020, we manage US$177bn across a suite of equity strategies and solutions covering a range of asset classes and investment styles. The specialist infrastructure investment team in Australia (formerly RARE Infrastructure), aims to provide investors with portfolios of high-quality infrastructure assets. We are dedicated to identifying and investing in the best infrastructure assets in the listed equity market, with the goal of delivering strong absolute returns over an investment cycle.  Our investment process is founded on fundamental research undertaken within a rigorous analytical framework. ClearBridge Investments has been a signatory to the PRI since 2008. Our specialist infrastructure investment team was formed in 2006.
iShares unlocks opportunity across markets to meet the evolving needs of investors. With more than twenty years of experience, a global line-up of 900+ exchange traded funds (ETFs) and US$2.81 trillion in assets under management as of March 31, 2021, iShares continues to drive progress for the financial industry. iShares funds are powered by the expert portfolio and risk management of BlackRock.

Perennial Better Future is part of the next generation of authentic ESG investors. We are focused on generating strong, consistent returns while investing in companies that are making a positive contribution to society and the environment. We are passionate about making a positive contribution to the development of society and the environment and have a long history of uncovering investment opportunities within the Australian marketplace. With a large and highly experienced team dedicated to finding opportunities, we focus on companies with sustainability tail winds and strong global growth drivers. ESG analysis and company engagement are core to our strategy and ethos, with the understanding that both can mitigate company risks and drive companies' performance. We aim to build robust and balanced investment solutions with strong risk adjusted returns, capturing the sustainability thematic and driving a Better Future.
Silver Partner
Agenda and speakers are subject to change
8:55am Welcome from Financial Standard

Rachel Alembakis - Master of Ceremonies
Managing Editor, FS Sustainability

  Find out more about Rachel

Rachel Alembakis is the Managing Editor of FS Sustainability a Rainmaker title that examines how investors and companies integrate environmental, social and corporate governance issues into their decision-making processes. She has more than a decade's experience covering investment issues for a range of publications in Australia and overseas. She holds an MSc in Politics of the World Economy from the London School of Economics and Political Science and undergraduate degrees in journalism and political science from Boston University.

9:00am ESG investing: Where are we now and where are we headed?
  • Why is ESG only becoming more important for investors?
  • The ongoing evolution of ESG investing from v1.0 to Next Generation
  • Is there a performance trade-off to ESG investing?

Additional reading material: Better future

Damian Cottier
Portfolio Manager, Perennial

Emilie O'Neill
ESG & Equities Analyst, Perennial

  Find out more about Damian and Emilie

Damian Cottier is Portfolio Manager of Perennial's Better Future Strategies which are focused on investing in ASX-listed small and mid-cap companies that are making a positive contribution to a better future. Damian joined the Perennial investment team in 2005 and has accumulated considerable experience during this time as a Portfolio manager and Analyst of companies across the market spectrum, including as a Portfolio Manager of the Perennial Value Microcap Opportunities Trust. Prior to joining Perennial, Damian worked as a lawyer in Sydney and Hong Kong with Freehills, Gilbert+Tobin and Baker & McKenzie. During this time he worked primarily in the corporate law area, often on matters involving governance issues and mergers and acquisitions.

Emilie is an ESG & equities analyst working primarily in the small caps team. Her main focus is Perennial's Better Future Strategies. She is also responsible for ESG stewardship including Perennial's sustainable investment strategy, corporate engagements, proxy voting and ESG research. Additionally, she has research responsibility for selected SMID financial companies. Prior to joining Perennial, she was a research analyst at Morgan Stanley for the highly rated banks and asset managers sector. She has prior experience in fintech, technology and a business start-up. Emilie holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Science from the University of New South Wales majoring in finance and psychology. She is also an FSA Credential Holder with the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and has passed Level II of the CFA Program.

9:40am Finding positive impact
  • How do clients/retail investors find/invest in impact investment?
  • What does an impact investment strategy look like - is it accounting for impact or managing for impact?
  • How do you measure and compare positive impact? How can impact investing be tailored to suit investors such as foundations, family offices, HNW and retail invesors?

Additional reading material: We're invested in a better planet

Steve Monnier
Director - Sustainable Specialist for Australia, BlackRock

  Find out more about Steve

Steve is a member of the APAC Sustainable Investing team and has been the Sustainability Specialist for Australasia since January 2020. In this role he partners with our clients to help them navigate and achieve their sustainable and investment objectives. Steve oversees our sustainable investing and ESG efforts across Australasia working in close partnership with our stewardship, investment and product teams. A key part of his role is to advocate and communicate our sustainable efforts more broadly.

10:20am Looking beyond ESG
  • Why it's important to look beyond ESG
  • Looking at ESG through the lens of responsible investing

David Macri
Chief Investment Officer, Australian Ethical

  Find out more about David

David is responsible for ensuring the effective management of all investment aspects of the company. David has over 20 years' experience in the investment industry with previous roles at Macquarie Securities, Credit Suisse Asset Management, Mellon and Mercer.

11:00am Morning tea
11:20am Why net-zero is a net positive for infrastructure portfolios
  • Sustainable infrastructure, a key foundation for economic activity and growth, plays and important role in reaching the global target of net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • Understand how regulated and contracted utilities, as well as user - pays infrastructure will contribute to, and benefit from, themes such as energy transition and decarbonisation.
  • Find out how investors can take advantage of these opportunities in their portfolio.

Nick Langley
Managing Director - Portfolio Manager, ClearBridge Investments

  Find out more about Nick

Nick Langley co-manages all Global Infrastructure Strategies at ClearBridge Investments. He has 26 years of investment industry experience and co-founded RARE Infrastructure Limited in 2006. Previously, Nick served as Principal of AMP Capital's Infrastructure Funds Management team, where he was also the CFO of DUET, an ASX-listed investment trust with AUD 5 billion in electricity and gas assets. He was also an Associate Director, Investment Banking, at UBS and Manager, Mergers and Acquisitions, at BZW/ABN AMRO. Nick earned a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Auckland.

12:00pm The challenges with the shades of grey
  • Each individual has their own beliefs and ideals - It is therefore impossible to satisfy individual interest.
  • Three key trends are emerging as critical for sustainable investors; Equality, the circular economy and climate change.
  • What value can active managers bring, and why is it so important to remain true to label?

Dom Giuliano
Deputy Chief Investment Officer - Portfolio Manager - Head of ESG, Magellan Asset Management

  Find out more about Dom

Domenico Giuliano joined Magellan in 2007 with responsibility for research coverage of the financials sector. In 2014, Dom was promoted to Deputy Chief Investment Officer and is the portfolio manager of the Global Sustainable and the Global ESG strategies, while still covering financial stocks. Prior to Magellan, Dom was an executive director at Morgan Stanley, with responsibility for leading sector coverage of insurance companies for Asia Pacific. Dom also worked as a consultant with Tillinghast-Towers Perrin, working across a wide span of assignments. Dom holds a Master of Business Administration from the Australian Graduate School of Management and a Bachelor of Economics from Macquarie University, and is a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries of Australia.

12:40pm Lunch
1:20pm Case study
  • The ESG Super Taxonomy Study - Separating funds that walk the walk from those that just talk the talk.
  • ESG managed funds risk-adjusted performance. What does this evidence tell us?

Alex Dunnin
Executive Director of Research, Rainmaker Information

John Dyall
Head of Investment Research, Rainmaker Information

  Find out more about Alex and John

Alex Dunnin is the Executive Director of Research & Compliance at the Rainmaker group, one of Australia's leading financial services research and publications companies. He is the Rainmaker group's primary researcher, lead analyst and opinion maker.

He is a contributing writer for Financial Standard where he writes about industry and market trends and how Australia's political and economic landscape interacts with financial services and in particular superannuation. Alex is also editor of the SelectingSuper suite of media properties that include the website, mobile website, tablet app and Good Superannuation Guide.

John Dyall has 20 years of experience working with clients on both the institutional side (large superannuation funds) and retail side of investment advice. Currently Head of Investment Research at Rainmaker Information.

John has a Bachelor of Business in Economics and Finance from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT University) and has been a CFA charterholder since 1998.

2:00pm Talking ESG: The client and member experience
  • What are clients saying about how they want to direct their investments and retirement savings? How do advisers engage with clients to deeply understand their questions and how to match their values with the right financial solution?
  • How are members engaging with their super fund when it comes to questions around ESG? How should staff communicate with members about what they're doing at a while of fund level as well as within individual SRI/ethical/sustainable options across the spectrum?
  • What does this trend towards seeking to align personal values with investment choices mean for the industry as a whole?

Chair: Rachel Alembakis


Bhanu Singh
Head of Asia Pacific Portfolio Management, Dimensional

Michelle Brisbane
CEO, Ethical Investment Services

Nicolette Boele
Executive, Policy and Standards, Responsible Investment Association Australasia

   Find out more about Bhanu, Michelle and Nicolette

Bhanu Singh is Head of Asia Pacific Portfolio Management at Dimensional. He joined Dimensional in 2003 and has been in his current role since 2015. In this role, Bhanu is responsible for all portfolios managed out of the Dimensional offices in Australia, Singapore and Japan. These include Dimensional's four Sustainability investment solutions. Equities: Australian Sustainability Trust, Global Sustainability Trust, Emerging Sustainability Trust (soon to be launched), Fixed Interest: Global Bond Sustainability Trust, Balanced: World Allocations 70/30 Trust. He also works closely with Dimensional's Research team to help design and implement custom solutions that the firm can provide to help clients achieve their goals. Additionally, Bhanu is a member of Dimensional's Investment Research Committee and serves as a Director for Dimensional Australia. Bhanu holds a BA in business economics with honours from UCLA and an MBA in analytical finance with honours from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Additional reading material: Sustainability trusts

As principal at Ethical Investment Services Michelle Brisbane has seen extraordinary growth in demand for ethical investment advice. After 30 years of operation EIS is well established and continues to provide ethical investment solutions for their growing client base. EIS employs an in-house analyst to construct screened portfolios which provide a total portfolio solution.  The EIS models consistently demonstrate that ethically screened portfolios deliver competitive returns for clients. Consumer demand has caused ESG (r)evolution and the finance industry is desperate for portfolio solutions that align client values with financial goals. Michelle has a Bachelor of Science with a Chemistry major and a Business degree specialising in Economics and Finance.

Nicolette Boele is the Executive, Policy and Standards, at the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA).  Over the past 30 years, she's held numerous leadership positions and non-executive director roles in industry-changing organisations, and in environment and finance-related industry groups, authorities, institutes and foundations.  Nicolette was involved in the Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative and is a member of the Principles for Responsible Investment's Global Policy Reference Group.

2:40pm Closing remarks
7 OCTOBER 2021
9:00AM - 2:40PM
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