The Dutch pension asset manager's Asia Pacific head of real estate says his team has just had one of its busiest years ever and that 2021 is looking similarly promising.
ôInvestors who are aware of all factors that could affect investment performance are better placed to manage risk and generate value.ö says Jane Ambachtsheer, MercerÆs head of global responsible investments in London.
To that end it has hired Helga Birgden in Melbourne, who will promote responsible investments in Japan, China and South Korea, as well as Australia and New Zealand. She will advise institutional investors on formulating investment policies and executing management decisions related to environmental, social and corporate governance.
Birgden has managed governance and sustainable investment at UniSuper, Australia's largest superannuation fund.
Mercer established the responsible investments team in 2004 out of Toronto, the first investment consultant to do so, says Ambachtsheer. Its activities range from policy management to fund manager selection and monitoring.
Mercer's team also provides assessment criteria and monitors adoption among investors and money managers of a United Nations program called "Principles for Responsible Investments". The UN has signed up 92 institutional investors and 86 fund management companies that together manage assets of around $10 trillion. These are supposed to pursue policies that support investments that account for environmental, social and corporate-governance factors, in the belief these have a long-term impact on financial performance.
Members include Japan's Mizuho Trust & Banking and Thailand's Government Pension Fund, as well as fund managers such as Allianz Global Investors, ABN Amro Asset Management, Axa Investment Management, BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole Asset Management, First State Investments, JPMorgan Asset Management and Pictet Asset Management.
In its second annual sustainable investment report, the sovereign wealth fund says it invested $1.79bn in ESG bonds. Experts say asset owners next need to consolidate their standards.
Senior executives at the Taiwan financial group and Canadian pension fund believe that companies have to make an ESG transition, and may not have a choice in a few years.
Record low borrowing costs in Australia are feeding demand for the country's real estate, with domestic and global investors raising their allocations into the sector.
Experts have a diversified view on the appeal of private assets across the region, but one thing's for certain - inflows are rising, particularly into China and the US.