Ethical funds win ‘mainstream’ awards

Double wins for ethical and SRI ‘cream’, while a handful of asset managers collect multiple prizes in the Money Observer annual Fund Awards.

Funds and Investment Trusts June 25, 2020 by Nina Kelly

Nine ethical/SRI (sustainable and responsible investment) funds have won awards in “mainstream” categories outside the ethical class in the Money Observer 2020 Fund Awards.

Money Observer Fund Awards 2020: the winners

The nine awards, which represent a quarter of the winner and highly commended gongs, demonstrate the strong performance of such funds, as more investors search for resilient, future-proof options. Performance was further strengthened by their avoidance of sectors such as oil and gas, which were particularly hard hit during the coronavirus pandemic.

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The Money Observer Fund Awards are designed to identify the funds with consistently strong returns over the past three years to the end of March 2020, and thereby to help readers with their investment selection.

How Money Observer’s 2020 Fund Awards are won

Baillie Gifford Positive Change, which is a newcomer to the Money Observer Fund Awards, has certainly made quite an entrance, winning two awards: the best large global growth fund and best equity-focused ethical/SRI fund. It has returned 66% over the three years under review.

The £278 million fund is run by five managers who invest in 25 to 50 companies that can deliver positive social change in one of four areas: social inclusion and education, environment and resource needs, healthcare and quality of life, and ‘base of the pyramid’ (addressing the needs of the world’s poorest).

Baillie Gifford Positive Change has been in demand among investors, as investment platform data from our parent company interactive investor reveals. Each month, it publishes a list of the top 10 most-bought funds. In May, the latest month for which data is available, Baillie Gifford Positive Change was the first ethical fund to enter the top 10.

Baillie Gifford Positive Change was not the only fund to collect two gongs: in the higher-risk mixed asset category Royal London Sustainable World and Liontrust Sustainable Future Managed claimed prizes, and these two funds also scooped the mixed asset awards in the ethical/SRI category.

Royal London Sustainable World has returned 28.4% over the three year under review. In the best ethical/SRI mixed asset category, it won the award for the seventh consecutive year.

Manager Mike Fox, who has been in charge since inception in 2009, screens out companies involved in areas such as armaments manufacture, animal testing, nuclear power and pornography, as well as those with a history of worker exploitation or human rights abuses. Amid recent volatility, the fund’s exposure to healthcare and technology served it well, as did its avoidance of oil and gas.

Liontrust Sustainable Future Managed, which enters the Fund Awards for the first time, collects two highly commended awards in the best ethical/SRI mixed asset and best mixed asset higher risk categories. Managers Peter Michaelis and Simon Clements identify key structural growth trends that will shape the global economy of the future, and seek to invest in well-run companies whose products and operations capitalise on these transformative changes.

Several asset management firms won multiple awards. Royal London takes the lead with a total of five awards, followed by Baillie Gifford, Liontrust and ASI, which all take home four awards.

A total of 15 of the 39 Fund Awards are Money Observer Rated Funds, meaning that they have been recognised by our in-house committee of experts as quality options for investors.

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