Wealthsimple launches ‘socially responsible’ portfolios

By Daniel Lanyon on Tuesday 16 January 2018

Savings and Investment

The Canadian firm launched into the UK in September and is gearing up for its first year of growth outside North America.

Wealthsimple has launched a suite of Socially Responsible Investing portfolios as it targets a growing trend among investors of avoiding companies not meeting criteria pertaining to environmental, social and governance criteria.

The firm says it is the first digital wealth manager in the UK to introduce such portfolios, which it adds are globally diversified, low-cost and offered with the same unlimited access to human advice as Wealthsimple’s core offering.

The portfolios have exposure to funds that take into consideration environmental and societal factors — such as cleantech innovation, fair labour standards and low carbon emissions.

Management fees for SRI portfolios are 0.5 per cent to 0.7 per cent.

“We always look to our clients for feedback on which features they want to see next, and SRI has been requested from the first day we launched in the UK,” said Toby Triebel, CEO Europe, Wealthsimple. “It’s reflective of what matters to investors today, and we’re really excited to be the first digital wealth manager to introduce an SRI offering, and to make it incredibly simple and accessible.”

Wealthsimple’s investment advisory board, made up of industry experts and academics, say they adopted a best-in-class approach when selecting ETFs for the portfolios. Funds were chosen based on a company’s ranking for environmental factors, and social and governance concerns, with the highest-scored companies screened for inclusion in the portfolios.

Businesses were excluded if they were manufacturers of products such as tobacco or weapons, or if they were involved in activities deemed not to have a positive social impact.

Interest in socially responsible investing has grown tenfold over the last couple of years with over $22trn in assets worldwide in SRI funds, with Europe accounting for over half (53 per cent).

UK investors can sign up for a Wealthsimple SRI portfolio, with a minimum of £5,000 invested.

Wealthsimple has over 50,000 clients globally and £1bn in assets under management.

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