Aberdeen Standard Investments has launched an Asian equity fund aligned with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, targeting companies in the region "making a positive contribution to society".
The ASI Asian Sustainable Development Equity fund will house a portfolio of 30 to 60 stocks with "strong growth potential" and demonstrating "significant opportunities to identify and allocate capital to the unmet-needs highlighted by UN SDGs", the firm said.
Launched in 2016, the UN's 17 SDGs are designed to help address some of the world's biggest environmental and societal challenges, such as poverty, inequality and climate change. Since launch, a growing list of asset managers and other financial institutions have aligned themselves with the SDGs.
A Luxembourg-domiciled SICAV, the fund will assess a company's alignment to the SDGs through an eight-pillar framework, while active engagement will be used to "drive positive changes in corporate behaviour, increase the SDG alignment of our holdings, and encourage better disclosure of SDG alignment by companies".
Managed by ASI's 50-strong Asia Pacific equities team, the fund will also supported by a team of 20 ESG experts, and analysts from the firm's global emerging markets equities unit.
Head of corporate governance for Asia Pacific at ASI David Smith explained: "While some progress has been made towards achieving the UN's SDGs by 2030, people in many Asian countries are still not benefiting from growth and progress and are increasingly vulnerable to economic, social and environmental risks.
"By investing in companies based or operating in Asia Pacific economies, which are strongly aligned to the UN's SDGs, this new fund seeks to deliver both attractive return for our clients and a positive societal impact - where it matters most."
The fund will target stocks in Asia Pacific ex-Japan, and aims to outperform the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex Japan Index (USD) benchmark before charges.
Registered for sale in the UK, as well as Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland, the fund will charge an AMC of 0.75% for institutional investors and 1.3% for retail investors.
Head of Asia Pacific equities Flavia Cheong added: "ESG has been part of our investment DNA for almost three decades. As responsible investors, we believe that supporting the SDGs creates tangible opportunities for Asian companies to contribute positively to society and the environment, while enhancing the long-term financial value of their businesses."