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Thematic approach saw Sarasin assets jump 5.4%

Smoke from California wildfires surrounds dry brown pine trees

Despite a volatile 2020, assets under management at UK asset manager Sarasin & Partners rose by 5.4%, which it attributed to thematic investing.

The firm said that AUM rose to £15.5bn (€13.2bn), as at 9 September, up from £14.7bn at the end of 2019.

Jeremy Thomas, head of global equities at Sarasin & Partners, which is part of the Swiss J. Safra Sarasin Group, told Expert Investor that the two funds which contributed most were the Sarasin Climate Active Endowments Fund, which is dedicated to charities, and the Sarasin Responsible Global Equity Fund.

The latter returned 8.15% year-to-date (as at end of August) and outperformed its benchmark, the MSCI AC World Daily, which achieved 3.64%.

Its top holding is Dutch semiconductor company ASML, at 3.1%.

Covid accelerated themes

“The Sarasin Responsible Global Equity Fund, for which AUM grew by 133% over the course of the last 12 months to the end of August 2020, benefitted from our thematic investment approach and our commitment to rigorous environmental, social and governance (ESG) analysis, whereby every stock we invest in is assessed for on ESG factors,” Thomas said.

“The [Climate Active Endowments Fund] increased in AUM by 40% in the past year, driven by client inflows and strong performance, and since launch in 2018, AUM has grown to over £300m today. The fund’s growth has been matched by segregated mandates following the same process such that total assets managed in our climate active franchise now amount to over £700m,” he added.

Thomas explained that many of the firm’s “themes were accelerated by Covid – in particular, digitalisation, climate change and ageing”.

“A thematically-led investment process enables us to identify the global companies that can thrive in this era of disruption. The pandemic has caused significant shifts in the investment landscape. Our thematic approach was key to helping us identify pharmaceutical and technology companies that are well positioned to address the new realities of a post-Covid world, and to avoid companies in areas such as traditional energy,” he noted.

Sarasin & Partners also said that it has further refined its global thematic approach in regard to long-term secular megatrends shaping the global economy; such as ageing, digitalisation, automation, evolving consumption and climate change, while integrating responsible stewardship principles.

“Investors are increasingly aware of the importance of incorporating ESG concerns into their investments, perhaps due to the many physical manifestations of climate change that we are now seeing, the California fires being the latest tragic example.

“There is also a greater understanding of the impact that negative ESG factors can have on a portfolio,” according to Thomas.

The firm stated that business development remains a top priority for the group.

This includes ongoing development projects within the US charities space and UK private client market, as well as expanding its presence in the institutional market and abroad.

Elena Johansson

Senior Reporter

Part of the Bonhill Group.