AXA IM rebrands fund to broaden social progress mandate

New social progress vehicle to cover wider remit

Lauren Mason
clock • 2 min read
AXA IM's Anne Tolmunen

AXA IM's Anne Tolmunen

AXA Investment Managers has rebranded its AXA WF Framlington Women Empowerment fund in order to expand its investable universe.

The fund, which will now be called AXA WF Framlington Social Progress, formerly invested in companies that fostered gender diversity. It will now invest in companies that address a wider range of social needs relating sustainable human progress.

According to the firm, the new broader mandate will allow the fund to address all of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals with a social focus, in particular access to affordable housing, essential infrastructure and financial & digital inclusion (SDGs 8, 9 and 11); protection through healthcare solutions and safety (SDGs 2, 3, 11 and 16); and progress by investing in companies which foster education, and entrepreneurship and wellbeing (SDGs 4, 5, 8 and 9).

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The sub-fund of the Luxembourg-domiciled SICAV, which is part of AXA IM's ACT fund range, will seek long-term growth alongside its sustainability objectives by selecting companies that create both societal and financial value by bolstering societal progress.

It has been categorised as an Article 9 product according to the EU Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation. Some 5% of the fund's management fees will continue to be donated to charities supporting education, biodiversity & climate and health initiatives.

Since it launched in February 2017, the $208.1m fund has returned 52.4%, compared to its FO Equity International sector average and MSCI AC World benchmark's respective gains of 44.2% and 56.3%, according to data from FE fundinfo. The largest holdings within the 55-stock portfolio include the likes of Microsoft, Facebook and Alibaba.

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Anne Tolmunen, portfolio manager of the AXA WF Framlington Social Progress fund, said AXA IM "believe[s] that as investors, we have a role to play in society, in shaping a more sustainable future not only for our clients, but also for our communities and the world we live in".

"With our social progress strategy, we are reinforcing our purpose," she explained. "We expect around 15% of adults globally (1 billion) to remain unbanked by 2022 and in 2016, 1.9 million deaths could have been prevented with adequate safe water, sanitation and hygiene.

"There is still so much that needs to be done to foster social progress, and finance has a key role to play through the companies we, as an active asset manager, are investing in. This is the reason why we are expanding the investment universe of the fund."

Tolmunen added that the economic empowerment of women will remain a "critical area of focus" within the fund.

"Promoting gender diversity in the workplace will also continue to be a cornerstone of AXA IM's active ownership agenda addressed through our reinforced engagement and voting capabilities and other initiatives such as the 30% Club Investor Group in France and in the UK," she said.

The fund is available to professional and retail investors in the UK, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Singapore (restricted scheme only), Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

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