Asset manager hires veterans Phil Cliff and Aaron Hay to strengthen its position skills left sustainability team, while also driving integration efforts.
Fidelity International has expanded its sustainability team with climate and private credit-focused appointments with the aim of closing skills gaps and strengthening its offering to clients.
“I don’t think it’s possible to stand still in the sustainability landscape,” says Jenn-Hui Tan, Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) at Fidelity. ESG.
“The evolution is enormous year after year, new skills are required and new legal requirements. new approaches, new customer expectations.”
According to Tan, any sustainability team that wants to be at the forefront of sustainable investing must be aware of the skills and competencies it lacks and then address these skills gaps.
“We need to bring in people who have complementary skills.”
The asset manager is looking to address its skills gaps with the appointments of Phil Cliff as Director of Sustainable Investing (Climate) and Aaron Hay as Director of Sustainable Investing (Private Credit).
“Both bring skills that we didn’t have, or had enough experience of at the level of experience they can provide,” Tan said.
“The goal is for them to help train and mentor the junior and mid-level analysts that we have,” he said. “We want to integrate them into the wider sustainability team and use their knowledge to drive our progress in integrating them into our investment portfolios, offering better products and services to our clients and improving the way we work.”
In his new role, Cliff will work across the firm to enhance Fidelity’s climate strategy and transition plan, advancing the firm’s commitment to halve emissions from its investment portfolios by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050.
He will also be responsible for ensuring the alignment of the company’s reporting strategy with actions to integrate climate considerations into its investment process, with the aim of achieving net zero across all business operations by 2030.
“Phil will be charged with helping us achieve our net zero targets,” Tan said, adding that he will also assist Fidelity in meeting regulatory reporting obligations, including the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures And International Sustainability Standards Council requirements.
Before joining Fidelity, Cliff was head of climate at global investment manager M&G Investments, where he led the climate strategy and transition plan. This included the creation of the company’s net-zero investment framework, a portfolio analysis tool, scenario modeling and climate reporting. In total, he has more than twenty years of experience in the sector.
“Part of Phil and Aaron’s appointments is the continued evolution and improvement of both the sustainability team and, more broadly, the integration of sustainability for the business,” said Tan.
Promoting private credit
Hay will lead the development and execution of the sustainable investment strategy for Fidelity’s private lending capabilities. This means working closely with the firm’s investment professionals to ensure consistent and effective integration of ESG throughout the investment process.
He will also lead the firm’s stewardship and engagement activities for its private credit investments, working closely with borrowers across a range of sectors to improve ESG outcomes.
Tan said private assets remain an “interesting opportunity” from both a sustainability and impact perspective.
He emphasized that there are fewer investors integrating ESG into private assets.
“The opportunities and proximity you have with private companies and the relationships you can build provide really interesting opportunities to achieve better positive outcomes.”
Hay joins from investment manager Federated Hermes, where he was responsible for investment stewardship, sustainable and impact investing strategy and implementation, and co-managed a growing sustainable fixed income team.
“Aaron’s immediate goal is to look at the existing strategies we have and use his experience to improve our approach,” Tan said, adding that he will contribute to the development of new and innovative products and solutions.
Emphasis on integration
Tan was appointed to the newly created role of CSO in Augusthaving previously spent more than four years at the firm as Global Head of Stewardship and Sustainable Investing.
In his new role, Tan is responsible for overseeing Fidelity’s sustainable investment and corporate sustainability teams to ensure consistent governance of the company’s sustainable approach across all its business operations and client service areas, including investment management and retirement solutions.
“My job is to manage all the different parts of the [sustainability] bringing together work we’ve done together into one consolidated function and delivering results in that integrated way,” he explained.
Following an initial launch of Article 9 funds over the summer, which consisted of a range of diversified equity funds focusing on companies that enable the SDGs, Tan said Fidelity plans to introduce further products to the range.
Last month, Fidelity launched its eighth fund, classified as Article 9 under the EU Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, in response to growing customer demand.
Tan said nature will be a key priority for Fidelity’s sustainability team going forward.
“We have done a lot of work this year around integrating nature considerations, both risks and opportunities into our investment process,” he explained. “You can expect more from us when it comes to mapping out our approach, providing greater clarity on our future direction of travel.”
Fidelity will also send a delegation to COP28 with the aim of contributing to what Tan hopes will be “productive discussions” on topics such as the just transition.