Investment Product and Service Launches

Northern Trust updates investor portal for alt asset managers, SSGA introduces corporate bond ESG ETF, and Mercer launches climate transition analytics solution.

Art by Jackson Epstein

Art by Jackson Epstein

Northern Trust Updates Investor Portal for Alt Asset Managers

Northern Trust has launched its next-generation investor portal for alternative asset managers, offering updated data feeds, customized views and analysis.

Built in partnership with fintech provider InvestCloud, the investor portal enables alternative asset managers to provide a rich data experience to their investors while gaining a deeper understanding of their investor base.

“We aim to be an extension of our clients’ business and understand the significant role that technology plays in their relationships with investors,” says Jeff Boyd, chief executive officer of Northern Trust Hedge Fund Services. “With this innovative new portal, we have empowered our clients with greater agility to meet evolving investor expectations as the alternatives industry quickly becomes more complex.”

Features of the Northern Trust investor portal solution include:

  • a direct interface allowing investors 24/7 access to their updated investment data;
  • secure data transmission and data visualizations of metrics including balances, transactions and returns;
  • custom data views, plus the ability to save and export these views into Excel;
  • seamless workflows with automated notifications prompting investors to share information with their investment manager when needed; and
  • a manager portal providing intuitive analytics that enables easy viewing of total investor base with the ability to drill into details at an individual investor level.

“We are excited to partner with Northern Trust as they transform fund administration operations by embracing digital capabilities, including 24/7 investor data access, visualization of key metrics, and massive data analysis flexibility,” says Will Bailey, chief strategy officer at InvestCloud.

Future versions of the investor portal will also include electronic submission of capital activity and other supporting documents, as well as data visualization for tracking committed capital against funded capital for private equity managers.

SSGA Introduces Corporate Bond ESG ETF

State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), the asset management business of State Street Corp., has launched its newest exchange-traded fund (ETF), the SPDR Bloomberg SASB Corporate Bond ESG Select ETF (RBND). It was developed to meet the demand for core fixed income and environmental, social and governance (ESG)-aware exposure, providing access to U.S. dollar-denominated investment grade corporate bonds.  

“Investors’ increasing appetite for cost-effective ESG solutions is not exclusive to the equity allocations in their portfolios,” says Noel Archard, global head of SPDR product at State Street Global Advisors. “With the launch of RBND, SPDR’s first fixed income ESG ETF publicly offered in the U.S., investors will now be able to better align their core fixed income exposures with their investment goals.”

The SPDR Bloomberg SASB Corporate Bond ESG Select ETF seeks to track the Bloomberg SASB US Corporate ESG Ex-Controversies Select Index. The index was developed by Bloomberg in collaboration with the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB).

The index measures the performance of investment grade corporate bonds issued by companies that demonstrate certain ESG characteristics, while also exhibiting risk and return characteristics that are comparable to those of the Bloomberg Barclays US Corporate Index.

The index methodology excludes issuers from the Bloomberg Barclays US Corporate Index that are involved in, and/or which derive significant revenue from, operations related to extreme event controversies, controversial weapons, United Nations (UN) global compact violations, civilian firearms, thermal coal extraction and tobacco.

“Overcoming the challenges created by the lack of standardization in ESG data requires access to quality data from multiple sources. RBND is designed to help investors cut through the noise and integrate material ESG factors at the core of their fixed income portfolios,” Archard says.

Mercer Launches Climate Transition Analytics Solution

Mercer has announced the launch of climate transition analytics and advice for institutional investors who want to transition to a 1.5°C scenario of global warming as outlined in the Paris Agreement.

The solution, called Analytics for Climate Transition (ACT) will help investors construct climate resilient portfolios on a multi-year timeframe, as 1.5°C requires a 45% emissions reduction by 2030. ACT is now being offered to Mercer’s investment consulting clients worldwide and will be leveraged to support climate transition strategies across its $304.5 billion global assets under management (AUM) on behalf of clients of its Investment Solutions business.

“Many investors are not yet equipped to invest in a decarbonizing economy, and some don’t know where to start. Our analytics and advice will help investors transition their portfolios to take on the challenges of managing climate risk, in their endeavor to meet return objectives while staying on target for a net-zero outcome,” says Helga Birgden, global business leader, Responsible Investment, Mercer.

ACT was developed because institutional investors are seeking ways to assess the companies they are invested in with respect to their commitment and ability to transition to a net zero economy by 2050, with an important milestone of 45% emissions reduction by 2030. Through ACT, Mercer can help investors set portfolio investment baselines; assess portfolio opportunities; establish targets; and produce implementation plans that can be integrated with strategy and portfolio construction decisions.

Mercer’s framework and analytics draw on multiple data providers and metrics to assess portfolios across a spectrum of carbon risk, with portfolios ranked from low transition capacity (gray investments) to investments that are low carbon risk/zero carbon already, or are providing climate solutions (green investments). The majority of companies in investor portfolios fall somewhere in between the two sides.