Impact investing rising to the sustainability challenge: WHEB

Profound sustainability challenges warrants investment in the companies that are providing positive impacts for those solutions, a message fund manager WHEB believes that recently brought to Australia.

WHEB manages the Pengana WHEB Sustainable Impact Fund here in Australia. Ted Franks, fund Manager for the Pengana WHEB Sustainable Impact Fund and co-founder of the UK-based WHEB Asset Management recently travelled to Australia to speak with investors about the fund, and how investment can drive impact.

“At WHEB, we’re all about sustainability, Ted says. “We have a single strategy in the UK and now in Australia, with Pengana, and we’re all about sustainability. That’s all we do. Because we’re small and focused, all we do is push out the envelop in terms of what we can deliver to investors in terms of sustainability.”

WHEB describes itself as an impact investor – an investor that puts money into companies that provide not only financial return, but provides products or services that improve environmental and/or social challenges.

“Our specialism is looking at the world as it changes in regards to sustainably challenges and invest in the companies that make the equipment and services that help solve the problems,” Ted says. “It’s a very direct approach.”

The Pengana WHEB Sustainable Impact Fund was launched in August 2017 and the fund is available on three platforms – OneVue, Hub24 and Powerwrap and the minimum investment is $10,000. The Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) has certified the Pengana WHEB Sustainable Impact fund as a responsible investor.

The fund “only invests in companies that create a positive social or environmental impact or produce goods and services that address the challenges of sustainability,” and is managed by WHEB Asset Management in the UK. WHEB has identified critical environmental and social challenges facing the global population over the next few decades and invest in a range of companies which provide solutions to these challenges.

The fund is invested in 60 global companies that Ted describes as “establishes , not ore-profit.”

“They are distributed across nine key sustainability themes- five are environmental, four are social,” Ted says. “It’s all about maintaining the quality of human life – cleaner energy, environmental services, sustainable transport on the environmental side, safety and wellbeing and education on the social side.”

WHEB also reports on its positive impact, and works to make that impact understandable to underlying investors. Rengana WHEB Sustainable Impact Fund has launched an innovative new calculator that will measure and report on its social and environmental impact and will allow investors to see the positive impact of their investment dollars.

The calculator notes the positive impacts of individual investments – for example, a $10,000 investment  generates 7 MWh or renewable energy, avoids 9 tonnes of CO2 emissions, treats 114,300 litres of waste water, equivalent to the annual total production of one Australian household, and provides 176,000 litres of drinking water.

“The key message we put out when we go on the road with the product is really to highlight how profound the sustainability challenge is and the challenges we’ve create for ourselves in the last 50 years when our population has doubled and our absorption of resources has more than doubled ,” Ted says.

Ted highlights themes such as the application of IT to manufacturing, and the Internet of Things.

“The sustainability angle is huge –we’re talking about IT improvements to manufacturing processes that are saving 30% or more on energy on historic versions, which also save a tonne of money and are very popular,” he says. “On social side, we’re looking at dealing with challenge of runaway healthcare. In all healthcare markets, cutting costs is the dominant theme.”