UBS plans to step up its sustainability efforts on all fronts.
In an international media event on Thursday, the Swiss bank said it has already committed more than $1 trillion of assets to focus on sustainable investing strategies, a third of its total global assets under management.
At UBS Wealth Management Americas, the wirehouse has allocated greater resources to sustainable investing by appointing Stephen Freedman as the head of sustainable investing in April.
The appointment was followed by the launch of an ESG-focused separately management account (SMA), the Long Term Themes Portfolio managed by UBS Asset Management in June.
Freedman, who views sustainable investing as a ‘strategic imperative’ for the division, said although the wirehouse has no immediate plans to introduce a another structure like the Long Term Themes SMA, it was working on solutions to ultimately integrate ESG considerations into all asset classes.
'We are quite open to whatever content is out there, the only restriction is we are never going to compromise the due diligence standards that we demand of new products that makes it onto the platform,' said Freedman at the event.
'That poses some limits for us to be able to partner with firms that don’t have a track record but we are not going to onboard solutions just for the sake of having more investment solutions that are substandard.'
In its asset management division, UBS has been trying to hire analysts to solely focus on ESG and sustainable investing research. The firm has received more than 1,000 applications for the 10 analyst openings, according to Michael Baldinger, head of sustainable and impact investing at UBS Asset Management.
In the investment banking arm, UBS has unveiled plans to launch a series of index vehicles in the sustainability and impact space, most of which are designed around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The indices in the pipeline include a global sustainability index using United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) member data coupled with research provided by Sustainalytics, indices targeting social responsibility such as Veterans Impact and Social Equality (LGBTQ), as well as indices targeting environmental and clean energy themes.
The moves come as UBS has been named as the industry group leader in the Diversified Financials Group by Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), the most widely recognized sustainability index.
DJSI cited the bank's growing suite of sustainable investment solutions to its clients, such as impact funds, long-term theme funds, renewable energy and cleantech financing, green bonds, ecomortgages as reasons for the selection. It also mentioned that UBS's impacting investment business increased 228% in 2016 compared to 2015.