Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Risk management and not ideology drives ESG — Man Group president

Man Group president Robyn Grew reiterated the importance of ESG investment themes during an interview at the SALT conference in New York.

Asked about recent controversies in the environmental, social and governance investing field, Grew said it was important to approach ESG from the standpoint of risk management rather than ideology.

“We are experiencing huge change in our supply chains because people literally can’t move things from one place to another,” she said.

“I think we all need to explore what we mean by ESG and what it means to our clients,” she said. “There isn’t a consistent global interpretation of what ESG means.”

London-based Man Group is the world’s largest publicly-traded hedge fund manager with $142bn under management across systematic and discretionary strategies in alternatives and long-only.

The scale of the firm gives Man an advantage to provide tailored solutions during an “interesting and difficult time for investors,” said Grew, dominated by rising inflation, recession risk, war in Europe and a historically bad period for the traditional 60:40 portfolio of stocks and bonds.

Grew, who was appointed president earlier this year after serving as head of ESG, global COO and GC, said it was important “not to be a product pusher but a product provider to clients”.

She added: “We have to step in and find solutions and capture alpha.”

Hedge fund performance has been characterised by high dispersion this year and drawn criticism despite providing average returns well ahead of stock and bond benchmarks.

“We all think we need to do better,” admitted Grew, but pointed out that Man Group had navigated the volatility well and its size, client-centric approach and focus on technology and new sources of data positioned it well for the future.

Read next: Man Group results distil value of alternatives in year of chaos

AFI will be reporting throughout SALT 2022. If you are attending, please say hello and do join our panel on the “Rise of the Machines in Active and ESG Investing” at 2.30pm on Tuesday in Breakout West.