Reuters came out with the comments from Fan Yifei, vice governor of the People’s Bank of China while quoting the Shanghai Securities News. The policymaker supporting opening up for Beijing’s financial markets while pushing for more investment into pension funds.
China pension system can help develop direct financing
Would support the country’s ‘deleveraging’ campaign, if long-term pension funds are matched with companies’ equity financing and long-term bonds.
China could further open up its financial markets by allowing more foreign financial institutions to participate in its pension investment management
Despite being not top-tier news, also having a little impact, signals to witness further liquidity in the financial markets of its largest customer can benefit Australia. The gains, however, seem to have limited by the press time of early Monday when the AUD/USD pair slips back to the sub-0.6900 mark.
AMSTERDAM, July 6, 2020 /CNW/ – APG, AustralianSuper, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI) and PGGM have jointly established the Sustainable Development Investments Asset Owner Platform (SDI AOP). The platform’s standard and artificial-intelligence driven data enables investors to assess companies on their contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The product will be available via distribution partner Qontigo.
Solving data challenges
Global investors increasingly consider the SDGs relevant to their investment strategy, policy, asset allocation, investment decisions and active ownership, according to research by the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). However, a lack of quality data to identify contributions to the SDGs has been an impediment for investors, and companies struggle to adapt their disclosures to meet investor needs. By providing a globally consistent SDG measurement framework, the SDI Asset Owner Platform helps investors to imbed the SDGs into their investment processes.
Shared understanding of Sustainable Development Investments (SDIs)
The SDI AOP allows asset owners and their managers to connect around the shared objective of measuring and understanding their portfolio investments’ contributions to the SDGs. These goals, set by the United Nations in 2015, aim for a better, more prosperous world, by addressing urgent global issues such as water scarcity, healthcare access, and protecting the environment. Investments in companies whose products or services contribute to the realization of the SDGs are called Sustainable Development Investments (SDIs).
AI-driven actionable insights
The SDI Asset Owner Platform provides a common definition, taxonomy, and data source for investments into the SDGs. Powered by AI-technology, data science company Entis generates SDI classifications for 8,000 companies to date. This enables investors to assess their global capital markets’ portfolios on their contribution to the SDGs and to report to their clients and external stakeholders transparently and consistently, using a common and auditable standard. The SDI classifications will be commercially available through Qontigo. The SDI definition and taxonomy are public and equally applicable to private market investments.
Asset-owner led platform
The SDI AOP is asset owner-led and asset owners make all methodological choices. The platform builds on the direct input and feedback from asset owners and their managers, and feeds the participating asset owners’ policy and investment needs into the assessment process. Subscribers and other stakeholders will also be invited to provide feedback. The SDI Asset Owner Platform will host a virtual event in September to provide interested investors with additional insight into the workings of the platform.
Commitment to the SDGs
The participating asset owners believe it is essential to invest into the SDGs, and to do so at scale. In September 2019, APG and PGGM, at the behest of their pension fund clients ABP, bpfBOUW and PFZW, announced their cooperation to set up the SDI Asset Owner Platform. These pension funds, among them the two largest in the Netherlands, have set ambitious targets for investing in the SDGs. AustralianSuper and British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI) have since joined the platform. The SDI AOP welcomes investors across the globe to subscribe, creating a critical mass of investors who together define the meaning of investing in the SDGs.
Claudia Kruse, Managing Director Global Responsible Investment & Governance, APG
“The SDGs are global and launching this standard with asset owners from three continents shows our commitment to contribute to the SDGs, and we look forward to extending the collaboration. SDGs and AI-based technology are at the forefront of innovation. This investment is part of our commitment to our clients on whose behalf we invest in order to provide affordable pension in a sustainable world.”
Andrew Gray, Director ESG and Stewardship, AustralianSuper
“As a founding member of the SDI AOP, AustralianSuper strongly welcomes the opportunity to jointly establish a global standard for investors to identify sustainable development investments. The platform will progress how we assess and engage with investee companies on their SDG contribution, measurement and reporting. This will promote real world sustainable outcomes which are vital for creating long-term value for beneficiaries.”
Jennifer Coulson, Vice President ESG, BCI
“Standardization of data is one of the biggest challenges facing the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) landscape. For this reason, we are excited to be part of this asset-owner led initiative which sets a global standard on SDG contributions for all investors and brings consistency and comparability to company-level data. This is the type of quality data that BCI relies on when making investment decisions that are required to generate value-added returns for our clients.”
Eloy Lindeijer, Chief Investment Management, PGGM
“For PGGM this platform is an important next step in a process to mobilize ever more institutional capital around the big challenges of our time, as described in the SDGs. By collaborating with asset owners from different continents we hope that this SDI AOP will contribute to being a global standard for investors.”
Sebastian Ceria, Chief Executive Officer, Qontigo
“The application of transparent rules-based methodologies, common definitions, taxonomies and strong data are the bedrock elements required for effective sustainable investing. We are proud to be a part of the SDI Asset Owner Platform’s efforts to enhance the ability of investors to achieve their commendable goals in sustainable investing.”
Wim Scheper, Managing Director, Entis
“Contributing to the development of a global standard for SDG investments is truly inspiring. It will guide the decision-making by investors and companies towards a more sustainable world.”
APG is the largest pension delivery organization in the Netherlands; its approximately 3,000 employees provide executive consultancy, asset management, pension administration, pension communication and employer services. APG performs these services on behalf of (pension) funds and employers in the sectors of education, government, construction, cleaning and window cleaning, housing associations, energy and utility companies, sheltered employment organizations, and medical specialists. APG manages approximately €512 billion/ US$576 billion (April 2020) in pension assets for the pension funds in these sectors. APG works for approximately 21,000 employers, providing the pension for one in five families in the Netherlands (about 4.6 million participants). APG has offices in Amsterdam, Heerlen, Brussels, New York and Hong Kong. APG’s largest client, civil service and teachers fund ABP, has set the target to invest 20% of AUM into the SDGs by 2025.
AustralianSuper is a profit for member pension fund that invests the retirement savings of its 2.2 million members to help them achieve their best possible retirement outcome. AustralianSuper is Australia’s largest pension fund, managing €106.7 billion/US$118.7 billion in assets as at 31 May 2020. AustralianSuper manages the assets of one in every 10 working Australians, with more than 300,000 businesses making contributions on behalf of employees.
With C$171.3 billion of managed assets as of March 31, 2020, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI) is a leading provider of investment management services to British Columbia’s public sector and one of Canada’s largest asset managers. BCI generates the investment returns that help their institutional clients build a financially secure future. With a global outlook, BCI seeks investment opportunities that convert savings into productive capital that will meet their clients’ risk/return requirements over time. BCI invests across a range of asset classes: fixed income; mortgages; public and private equity; real estate; infrastructure; and renewable resources.
PGGM is a cooperative Dutch pension fund service provider. Institutional clients are offered: asset management, pension fund management, policy advice and management support. On December 31, 2019 PGGM had €252 billion in assets under management and was administrating pensions of 4.4 million participants. Around 750,000 workers in the Dutch healthcare are connected to PGGM&CO, our members organization. Either alone or together with strategic partners, PGGM develops future solutions by linking together pension, care, housing and work.
Qontigo is a financial intelligence innovator and a leader in the modernization of investment management, from risk to return. The combination of the group’s world-class indices and best-of-breed analytics, with its technological expertise and customer-driven innovation, enables its clients to achieve competitive advantage in a rapidly changing marketplace. Qontigo’s global client base includes the world’s largest financial products issuers, capital owners and asset managers. Created in 2019 through the combination of Axioma, DAX and STOXX, Qontigo is part of Deutsche Börse Group, headquartered in Eschborn with key locations in New York, Zug and London.
Entis is a data science company specialized in unstructured text processing to create investable insights for asset managers. Using text documents such as annual reports, company webpages or patents, Entis classifies companies on their contribution to the UN SDGs. Entis furthermore provides services in the area of thematic investing and alpha research. Our service offering is enabled via our scalable data-platform and advanced pattern-recognition technologies.
SOURCE British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI)
For further information: and/or requests for interviews with Claudia Kruse, Managing Director Responsible Investment & Governance at APG, please contact: Dick Kors (media relations APG), Phone: +31 (0)6 34 02 07 51, E-mail: [email protected]
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If house prices dropped tomorrow would you sell? Probably not.
A well-diversified investment portfolio is a lot like a solid home in a good neighbourhood. It should be able to withstand ups and downs over a long period of time. The big difference between a home and a portfolio is that you can log in every day to track the constantly changing value of your investments. Seeing a dip, especially when markets are volatile, can trigger an emotional response that leads to selling low, a counterintuitive approach.
You may hear that other people are selling their investments or choosing to park their money in cash until life returns to normal. But if your investments are professionally managed, match your risk profile, and put you on the right path to meeting your long-term goals, sticking to your plan may be the best short- and long-term approach.
7 Tips to stay focused on your financial plan
Here are some tips and strategies on dealing with your emotions now and keeping your plan in place for tomorrow.
1. Don’t panic
Panic and anxiety almost always lead investors to make bad decisions like selling good-quality investments at fire-sale prices-only to buy them back later at much higher prices.
2. Get an objective view of your situation
This is not the time to call your day-trading buddy for stock tips. Talk to friends and relatives who have endured times of economic uncertainty. If your portfolio is professionally managed, definitely ask your advisor for some perspective on dealing with your emotional response to all that’s going on today.
3. Balance good and bad news stories
It’s essential to stay informed and know what’s expected of you in extraordinary times. But dwelling on negative news can eat away at your optimism. Seek solid, fact-based sources of information and search out the good news. Lots of people and organizations are doing the kind of positive work that will help economies heal and markets recover. Balance your screen time with these stories of hope and inspiration.
4. Keep saving money
If you are one of the lucky Canadians who is continuing to receive a salary or other income, don’t let uncertainty derail your good money-saving habits. If you are contributing regularly to an investment plan, your contributions will benefit from dollar-cost-averaging, a proven way to benefit from ups and downs, while the markets remain unpredictable.
5. Stay committed to what works
Whether you manage your own investments or work with a professional advisor, the decision to sell an investment should be driven by your plan, not your emotions, and not as a reaction to global events. Selling during a downturn locks in your losses and forces you to choose an alternative investment that may or may not perform as well when markets recover.
6. Stay protected
Cashing in or canceling your insurance policies is a short-sighted strategy that can weaken the foundation of your financial plan. If you need access to cash, talk to a professional advisor about ways to create income from the assets you have in the most cost-effective way. For example, you may be able to borrow money using your assets as collateral. You’ll need to pay back the loan but you can avoid cancelling policies at a bad time.
7. Spend within your means
Interest rates have dropped slightly and many assets are undervalued right now. It can seem like the right time to trade in your vehicle or make major purchases. But parting with cash or taking on new monthly payments will have an impact on your cash flow. If markets take their time recovering or interest rates start to rise, financial security may be more important than a few new things.
Get Your free financial plan
If the “new normal” has you feeling off-balance, you’re not alone. Don’t let emotions guide your investment decisions. I invite you to give me a call for a one-on-one review of the markets and your portfolio. Then let’s work together to develop a comprehensive financial plan that will help you achieve your long-term goals. Some financial planners will charge upwards of $3,000 to develop a plan. We’re happy to provide this valuable service to our clients at no cost. – Amardeep Sidhu (A.D. for short), Financial Advisor
Originally published 26 April, 2020
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
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Investment app Evarvest is teaching users the tricks of the trade
The investment space is attractive to many, but is also full of pitfalls and unexpected financial costs. With her simple and accessible app, Evarvest, CEO Stephanie Brennan wants to make sure everyone has the tools they need to start trading
Ever since she overheard her parents discussing their own portfolios at the family dinner table, Stephanie Brennan has been interested in investing
Investing may be more appealing now than at any other point in history. Not only because stock markets around the world have been buoyant in recent times – the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced its longest-ever bull run between 2009 and March 2020 – but also because low interest rates mean banks are not able to offer much for savers to get excited about.
But the investment world can also be a scary place; it is easy for the inexperienced to become overwhelmed. In the US, in addition to the Dow Jones index, there is the Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 to keep tabs on, as well as countless other smaller indices. If investors want to cast their net even wider, there is a whole world of other countries to invest in, each with their own myriad markets to consider. It’s a lot to take in.
The finance sector is heavily regulated, and entering it can take time – something that not all start-ups have the luxury of
Stephanie Brennan is working hard to make investing more accessible. As CEO of Vilnius-based start-up Evarvest, she believes it’s important to nurture the next generation of investors by providing education, support and the tools needed to invest in whatever assets pique their interest, wherever in the world they are based. The Evarvest stock-trading app makes entering the world of investing as simple as having a smartphone and a Wi-Fi connection, giving users the ability to trade more than 9,000 stocks at the touch of a button.
Declaring an interest Ever since she overheard her parents discussing their own portfolios at the family dinner table, Brennan has been interested in investing. But the journey towards creating Evarvest has been gradual. One of Brennan’s early job roles was as a policy advisor for Australia’s regional government in New South Wales, assisting then MP Bronwyn Bishop in her role as shadow minister for seniors. Specifically, Brennan worked on legislative reforms in the superannuation space – the Australian equivalent of pensions – which gave her an insight into how investing affects older people and why so many struggle to acquire the financial liquidity and stability needed to support themselves during their retirement.
Her career then moved further into the investment space, first with property while working at real estate firm Richardson & Wrench, and then when she founded Step Wealth, a financial services firm that offered private wealth-planning advice. It wasn’t long before she was personally investing, both in property and the capital markets.
“The idea for Evarvest really came from my own experience,” Brennan told European CEO. “I was always really interested in the stock market, but I found it incredibly complex. That’s why I started with property, to begin with. But then I pivoted back to really wanting to get my head around investing in capital markets. I tried to self-educate, but soon realised that there’s a huge lack of advice and guidance in this space. While there are some great platforms that are really trying to educate people, I still felt like you needed a pre-existing level of understanding to engage with the concepts that they were explaining. It wasn’t simplified enough that I could come in with no experience and really grasp it.”
Brennan soon discovered that many others like her wanted to get involved in investing but didn’t know where to begin. After building up her knowledge base, she decided it was time to give back by sharing that information with others – it was then that Evarvest was born. Starting as a video blog in Australia in January 2018, Evarvest grew quickly. In June of that year, the company relocated to Vilnius, Lithuania, to obtain an EU brokerage licence. Partnerships, awards and funding rounds have followed, and today the company has a clear roadmap in place for further expansion.
Finding the funds The challenge that Brennan had to overcome was greater than simply offering educational support in the field of investment: she found that the cost of getting involved in investing was prohibitive. When there’s also the risk factor to consider, it is easy to understand why high brokerage fees would lead many to simply leave their savings in the bank instead, even if the interest they are accruing is almost non-existent.
“I found that even if I was investing in my local market, it was still incredibly expensive to start investing,” Brennan said. “Most banks in Australia stipulated a minimum of AUD 500 (€294) per trade and about AUD 25 (€14.67) in brokerage. And from there when I wanted to access international markets, like the London Stock Exchange, it was AUD 20,000 (€11,740) to open an account with a stockbroker and AUD 200 (€117) in brokerage.”
With traditional investment platforms, users may be subject to a set-up charge, an annual fee, dealing costs, exit penalties and other expenses. Collectively, these can subtract significantly from any profits. With Evarvest, however, stock trading across US markets is commission-free, while all other markets are subject to a commission starting at just 0.1 percent. But low costs aren’t the only way Evarvest is trying to differentiate itself.
“What’s really unique about Evarvest is the way it brings all of those elements – accessibility, simplicity and cost – together,” Brennan said. “There are some great companies in our space that are really driving change, but if they are simple enough to use, then they often don’t have access to other markets. So I really wanted to bring everything together in one application.”
And while Evarvest is looking to appeal to a broad demographic, younger users are a growing market. Collectively, Millennials and Generation Z represent 63.5 percent of the world’s population, and these individuals are gaining financial power all the time. Improving their financial literacy is a good way of making sure this power doesn’t go to waste.
Return on investment As with any start-up looking to disrupt a well-established industry, challenges are inevitable. Finding sources of funding is one obstacle that all company founders are aware of, but fortunately this hasn’t been much of a struggle for Evarvest. Last year, the firm exceeded its initial target in its first fundraising round by over 300 percent, raising €227,963, despite only targeting €75,000.
But while the company’s finances remain in good shape, there are many other hurdles to overcome. The finance sector is heavily regulated and entering it can take time – something that not all start-ups have the luxury of. With Evarvest, Brennan had to think carefully about where she wanted her business to be located based on the regulatory conditions within each market.
“Personally, I think every challenge is an opportunity in itself,” she said. “We started in Australia, but when we were looking to obtain a licence, we had to consider where offered the best return on investment, which led us to looking at different markets all over the world. We found that Lithuania has the fastest licensing time not just in the EU, but more broadly in the world. Normally, in the UK, most parts of Europe and Australia, the licensing time takes about 12 months, whereas Lithuania takes a maximum of six months in general. So for us, this market was hugely attractive, particularly as it gives us fantastic access to the rest of Europe. As a part of our Brexit strategy, we are also simultaneously applying to obtain our FCA approval in the UK.”
Evarvest shifted operations to Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital city, in June 2018, attracted by more than just the regulatory landscape. According to the Global Fintech Index 2020, Vilnius is ranked as the fourth-best location in the world for fintech, employing more than 21,000 technology specialists, 14,000 finance and insurance specialists and 2,400 fintech specialists.
Despite these advantages, Vilnius, like every other city in the developed world, has not been able to avoid the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Neither has Evarvest. Brennan is keen to stress that the likely long-term impact of the disease remains unknown, so her main goal has stayed the same – building a resilient business.
“I think in terms of COVID-19, we’re not really sure of the exact impact that it is going to have both in the short and long term, but – particularly in the capital markets – we are seeing a huge uptick in account openings for people looking to take advantage of any opportunities,” Brennan said. “There are some great companies that we use in our daily lives that have really dropped in value. Will these continue to be around in the next 12 months? Are they going to be able to ride out this volatility?”
When it comes to her own business, Brennan has long been prepared to expect the unexpected. “I often return to the wise words of my [mother], actually, when I started my first business,” she said. “She told me to always try to ensure that your company is effectively recession-proof; something that people always need no matter what.”
The volatility that the coronavirus crisis is bringing to the business world will see many firms plummet in value and others go under, but some will see their fortunes improve as consumer patterns and entire industries adapt. In this sort of environment, there will certainly be opportunities for investors to make sizable profits, and Evarvest is ready to give them a helping hand.
The share of responsibility Leading a new business always comes with pressure, but it’s not often that a global pandemic is listed among the challenges. Brennan has tried to stick to her original timescales for expansion, while also staying true to her leadership style. The aim remains to launch in European markets first, before eventually expanding globally, back to Australia, then New Zealand and Canada, and finally Singapore and the US. Such expansion will require a significant amount of work, but Brennan knows this comes with the territory.
“I guess working for a start-up and having to wear multiple hats means that there is no typical day,” Brennan said. “Being the founder, it’s all about making sure that our marketing and our product aligns with the company’s overall strategy.”
At Evarvest, Brennan’s hands-on approach has ensured that the company has received accolades, funding and plenty of media attention. There remains much work to be done if the firm is to continue expanding and reach a global audience, but the CEO has shown already that she is willing to invest her time and energy into making trading available to everyone.
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