Merrill Lynch introduces new sustainable impact multi-asset class portfolios (Wealth Adviser)

Merrill Lynch has added sustainable impact multi-asset class portfolios to its expanding platform of impact portfolios to serve clients interested in using their investment capital for positive social and environmental purposes. 

Additionally, the firm will provide its 14,000 financial advisors new resources to help clients understand the impact of their investments in these portfolios.

“Clients are telling us they want their portfolios to reflect their values and help improve the world they live in. As their enthusiasm grows, we continue to offer new opportunities to meet this need. We have made impact investing a strategic priority and will bring clients innovative solutions that help them promote positive social change,” says Andy Sieg, head of Global Wealth and Retirement Solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

The sustainable impact multi-asset class portfolios available through Merrill Lynch One have been constructed by Merrill Lynch’s Investment Management and Guidance (IMG) team under the leadership of Chief Investment Officer Ashvin Chhabra. The portfolios will seek to deliver a competitive risk-adjusted return as well as a positive environmental, social, governance (ESG) profile relative to a traditional, non-ESG focused, benchmark. The portfolios will include mutual funds as well as exchange traded funds. Clients can work with their financial advisors to identify the portfolio that best fits their personal financial goals and asset allocation needs.

As part of the new offering, the IMG team will provide to Merrill Lynch financial advisors detailed reports about the ESG characteristics of the sustainable impact multi-asset class portfolios and their constituent funds, the majority of which have ESG mandates. The reports will include comparisons with traditional portfolio benchmarks. They will leverage ESG metrics and ratings provided by MSCI, an independent provider of research-driven insights and tools for institutional investors. The reports are designed to help advisors better assess whether the investments meet clients’ impact investing goals.

Innovation to meet demand in the impact investing arena is a key area of focus for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In 2013, they offered the first social impact bond syndicated to high net worth investors to fund employment services for formerly incarcerated individuals in New York state. A few months later, partnering with the World Bank, Bank of America offered green bonds to Merrill Lynch clients; a second offering was completed in May 2015. In 2014, the organisation became a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investing. Bank of America is also leading the drive to understand how social impact bonds can finance support services for US veterans.