LOCAL fund manager ATR Asset Management, Inc. (ATRAM) launched on Thursday a sustainability fund anchored on the 17 key United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a first in the country, as it focuses its investments on companies deemed sustainable.

“ATRAM Philippine Sustainable Development and Growth Fund is designed to invest in companies that score high in terms of the integration of UN SDGs into their operations and strategy and have reported attractive returns relative to valuations,” it said in a press release.

ATRAM said the fund, formally called the “ATRAM Philippine Sustainable Development and Growth Fund,” is an equity portfolio that will have an initial 20 large-, mid-, and small-cap companies publicly listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).

“The investment thesis is that as companies integrate more sustainability issues into their businesses and continuously improve on integration, this will drive long-term returns and reduce costs,” it added.

The unit investment trust fund is structured as a multi-class fund, servicing two currencies, the Philippine peso and the US dollar, with trust fees of 1.75% and 0.6% per annum, respectively.

The target market for the fund are investors aiming to invest in local equity securities, with a long-term investment plan and an aggressive risk appetite.

Phillip Hagedorn, the chief investment officer of ATRAM, said the fund’s focus on investing in companies that align their operations with SDGs will incentivize them to continue with their sustainability initiatives and help mitigate the economic and social impacts of climate change.

“Through this fund, we hope to encourage PSE listed companies to integrate UN SDGs into their businesses. This means companies should always look after employee health and education, drive employment and not unemployment, invest significantly into R&D (research and development), take care of their environment, and other SDG-related responsibilities,” Mr. Hagedorn was quoted as saying.

“If more companies pay it forward, we can make a huge difference for the environment, society, and the economy,” he added.

SDGs are 17 goals set by the UN that participating countries vowed to achieve by 2030. The goals include eradicating extreme poverty, investing on quality education, attaining zero hunger, promoting gender equality and providing clean water and sanitation to people. — Beatrice M. Laforga