Schroders is understood to have hired Mervyn Tang from Fitch Ratings to join a new team it is building that will focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing and research, AsianInvestor can reveal.

Mervyn Tang

Tang is currently Fitch Ratings’ global head of ESG research and sustainable finance, based in Hong Kong. He has held this position since joining the rating agency in March 2019, according to his LinkedIn profile. He is set to join Schroders in a few weeks. 

Schroders is believed to be hiring Tang as its head of Asian sustainability strategy, as part of an effort to build a four-strong team that will staff its new regional Centre of Excellence for Sustainability, based in Singapore.  

Before working at Fitch, Tang was a vice president and head of fixed income for ESG research at index provider MSCI. Prior to that he had an earlier stint at Fitch Ratings, working as a director covering Asian sovereign research between January 2015 and July 2017. 

Tang declined to comment on moving to Schroders. A spokesperson for the fund manager declined to comment on Tang's appointment and whether he will relocate to Singapore. A spokesperson for Fitch said it is not the company's policy to comment on personnel matters. 

Schroders first announced its plans for the sustainability centre in late 2020. A spokesperson for the fund manager recently told AsianInvestor that it intended to hire a team head and another three ESG specialists for the centre before the end of 2021. The new team will collectively report to Andy Howard, Schroders’ global head of sustainable investment.

The UK-headquartered fund house has been hard at work to flesh out its sustainability credentials over the past three years. It announced in March that it had begun integrating ESG factors into all of its investment decision making, after revealing its intention to do so in 2019.

In the announcement, Howard noted the rationale for Schroders' desire to expand ESG integration and research. “Companies that build businesses able to adapt to the intensifying social and environmental pressures they face can increase returns or reduce risks compared to those that don’t," he said. "Sustainability analysis, when integrated with more traditional methods of measuring a company’s prospects, can improve judgement and enhance performance.”

Schroders currently has 20 ESG specialists globally.

ESG EXPANSION

Several other fund managers are also expanding their ESG resources, both in Asia and beyond. And some of these plans revolve around the establishment of ESG-focused teams in Singapore.

BNP Paribas Asset Management recently told AsianInvestor it is considering establishing a sustainability hub in Singapore, following Schroders and Netherlands-based NN Investment Partners, which recently announced its own plan to establish a responsible investing hub in the city state.

In addition, Eric Nietsch, Asia head of ESG from Canadian Manulife Investment Management, told AsianInvestor that the firm has launched a Sustainable Asia Bond strategy for investors in Singapore, which it then extended it to investors in Europe this year. It has three ESG specialists in the region.

The desire of fund managers to increase ESG specialists and products in Asia comes as sustainable investing slowly gains more traction in the region. Some of the region’s largest asset owners have announced sustainability-themed investment mandates, and more are likely to do so as governments across the world deepen their efforts to combat climate change and meet the Paris Climate Agreement’s target of restricting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

According to Aviva Investors, investment flows into ESG-compliant investment products are quickly rising across the globe and particularly picked up pace since the beginning of 2021. Sustainable funds enjoyed a record net inflow of $185 billion in the first quarter of the year, bringing their combined global assets under management to almost $2 trillion. 

Twinkle Zhou contributed to this story.