Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Featured Speaker Series - Conor Platt, Etho Capital

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - Featured Speaker Series - This specialized blog series highlights dynamic speakers from the most recent ETP Forum and offers a window into the insight that they share with the attendees. As our speaking faculty continues to offer thought leadership on the most cutting-edge investment strategies, we use this feature to supplement the event’s panel discussions and share select speaker’s insights – we hope that you enjoy this special series of posts.

As we continue this series of ETP Forum Featured Speaker Series, we highlight Conor Platt, co-founder and CEO/CIO of Etho Capital, who served as a panelist at the Spring 2017 ETP Forum. Please read below for a recap of our ESG panel and how Conor is making his mark on the ESG landscape.

Concurrent to the explosive rise of passive investing and ETFs, has been a surge in investor interest in Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) issues. Demographic trends, pressing social and environmental concerns, changing corporate culture and wider availability of data have helped give rise to a burgeoning class of socially conscious investors that aim to align their investments with personal values. While around for several decades, ESG strategies were previously thought to be incompatible with the goal of financial returns and prohibitively expensive for non-institutional investors. However, a growing body of research indicates that ESG-friendly investments actually tend to outperform non-ESG alternatives. Companies with effective governance and higher quality management of social and environmental issues tend to display better operating performance and profitability. This has served to broaden the appeal and accelerate the integration of ESG, as investors across the spectrum have realized the social and financial benefits of ESG investing. Additionally, the advent of ETFs has helped democratize the ESG landscape by enabling investors to channel their ESG allocations into a transparent, low-cost investment vehicle. The supportive body of evidence, in tandem with the rise of ETFs, has helped thrust ESG investment strategies into the mainstream.

Product offerings and assets under management in ESG strategies have proliferated during the past decade and are poised for continued expansion. As the ESG space continues to evolve, expand and grow in prominence and complexity, the need for ESG education will be imperative. During the Spring 2017 ETP Forum, our panel of ESG experts gathered to discuss how to navigate this space and make the most impact with your capital. One of our panelists, Conor Platt, shed light on the increasingly complex ESG landscape and opportunities available for investors in the ETF wrapper.

Through his extensive background on Wall Street and in the hedge fund industry, Conor came to recognize the immense potential of ESG investment strategies. Conor eventually combined his analytical expertise with ESG-sustainability data to create a systematic process that focuses heavily on companies’ operational efficiency, ESG-sustainability and overall risk management. Etho Capital, where Platt is the co-founder and CEO/CIO, has been at the forefront of the ESG-ETF revolution, providing thought leadership and investment solutions for investors.

In November 2015, Etho Capital broke new ground in the ESG space with the launch of the Etho Climate Leadership U.S. ETF (ETHO). ETHO represented the first broad-based, diversified, socially responsible and fossil-free ETF that did not have exposure to the energy sector. Based on Etho Capital’s flagship Climate Leadership (US) index, the ETF tracks over 350 companies that have the smallest carbon footprints in their industries. The firm employs a positive selection methodology to review more than 6,000 of the most commonly traded public companies and identify the most carbon-efficient “climate leaders” in each industry. All fossil fuel, tobacco, weapons, and gambling companies are eliminated from the index. Lastly, a screen is conducted based on environmental, social, and governance performance data with expertise from NGO partners and input from global stakeholders.

In addition to its strong ESG merits, ETHO has delivered consistent outperformance. ETHO has steadily outperformed the market, delivering a 17.36% return versus the S&P 500’s 13.40% since ETHO’s inception. Given its robust ESG credentials, history of outperformance, and current 7.29 ETFG Green Diamond Reward rating, ETHO stands out among its ESG peers.

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