Investment Product and Service Launches

Hartford Funds builds Commodity-Focused ETF; Northern Trust invests in Essentia Analytics; Northern Trust launches ESG ETF Suite; and more.

Hartford Funds Builds Commodity-Focused ETF

Hartford Funds has launched its first commodity-focused exchange-traded fund (ETF), Hartford Schroders Commodity Strategy ETF, which will be sub-advised by Schroder Investment Management North America Inc. and Schroder Investment Management North America Ltd. The strategy seeks long-term total return by investing in a range of commodity-related instruments. The actively managed fund’s performance benchmark will be the Bloomberg Commodity Total Return Index.

“Hartford Schroders Commodity Strategy ETF allows us to offer our clients exposure to an alternative asset class that we feel is ripe for opportunity in the current market environment,” says Vernon Meyer, chief investment officer at Hartford Funds. “This product further demonstrates our commitment to providing both our existing and prospective clients diverse, long-term investing opportunities that can help them achieve their investment goals.”

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The ETF will primarily invest in a range of commodity-related derivative instruments, such as futures and other commodity-linked swaps, along with cash or cash equivalents including certificates of deposit, treasury bills, floating-rate notes, and equities of commodity-related companies. The fund will seek exposure to a range of commodity sectors from time to time including, but not limited to, the energy, agriculture and metals sectors. As the fund’s sub-adviser, Schroders will consider fundamental, quantitative and technical sentiment to determine the asset allocation to various commodities. The fund may also invest in structured notes, debt securities, convertible securities, and foreign currency.

The new fund is listed on the New York Stock Exchange ARCA, Inc. The portfolio management team consists of James Luke, Malcolm Melville and Dravasp Jhabvala, three dedicated investment professionals on Schroders’ commodities team with an average of 17 years of investment experience. 

Northern Trust Invests in Essentia Analytics

Northern Trust has reached an agreement to take an equity stake in Essentia Analytics, Ltd.

Essentia Analytics is a behavioral analytics and consulting services provider that utilizes a cloud-based platform to combine historical data and behavioral science to identify and address biases in investment performance. 

The addition of Essentia behavioral analytics solutions is an extension of “Northern Trust Whole Office,” a strategy that facilitates client access to new technologies, services and solutions across the investment lifecycle. 

“We continue to pursue a strategy that combines Northern Trust’s global architecture with innovative partners like Essentia to help clients maximize the value of their data and optimize investment performance,” says Pete Cherecwich, president of corporate and institutional services at Northern Trust. “Essentia’s next generation data analytics technology allows institutional investors, both asset managers and asset allocators, to embed data-driven feedback into their investment process. Through our Whole Office partnerships, Northern Trust clients across the globe can access advanced technology, skills and services designed to help them make repeatable and measurable decisions in the quest to deliver alpha.”

Essentia Analytics combines data analytics, client-driven “nudges” and specialist behavioral coaching to provide a feedback loop for active investment decisions.

Working with foundational investment portfolio data from Northern Trust filtered through Essentia’s proprietary process, investors can gain insight into their more skilled and less successful investment patterns, at both the firm and individual level, in order to optimize decisionmaking.

“As asset managers and allocators seek to maximize alpha, it is crucial that they are able to identify behavioral biases and decision-making deficiencies and adjust their approach accordingly,” says Clare Flynn Levy, founder and CEO of Essentia Analytics. “We look forward to the opportunity to work with Northern Trust to bring enhanced productivity and investment performance to the front office of clients across the globe.”

Northern Trust Launches ESG ETF Suite

Northern Trust Asset Management’s FlexShares exchange-traded funds has launched a new suite of core environmental, social and governance (ESG) ETFs focused on climate.

The funds include FlexShares ESG & Climate US Large Cap Core Index Fund; FlexShares ESG & Climate Developed Markets ex-US Core Index Fund; FlexShares ESG & Climate Investment Grade Corporate Core Index Fund; and FlexShares ESG & Climate High Yield Corporate Core Index Fund.

The four new climate ETFs add to FlexShares’ existing ESG ETF offerings, FlexShares STOXX US ESG Select Index Fund (ESG) and FlexShares STOXX Global ESG Select Index Fund (ESGG). The new fund suite seeks to help investors improve their portfolio’s overall ESG score and reduce carbon risk, while maintaining core equity and fixed-income exposure. The funds utilize the Northern Trust ESG Vector Score as well as a carbon risk rating in an effort to hedge ESG-related risks and capitalize on sustainable opportunities.

“The combination of our ESG Vector Score and carbon risk rating creates a complementary strategy to identify sustainability leaders and laggards in each sector in a consistent way,” says Christopher Huemmer, senior investment strategist for FlexShares ETFs. “In response to heightened client demand for climate investing, we created this new suite to offer core investing strategies that we believe are better positioned to benefit from the ongoing transition to a low-carbon economy.”

The ESG Vector Score methodology developed by Northern Trust Asset Management seeks to identify ESG-related business issues most likely to impact a company’s financial performance and a portfolio’s investment return. The scoring methodology relies on a framework established by the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB) that seeks to determine sustainability industry leaders and mitigate sustainability risks before they impact the company’s financial statements and the portfolio’s performance.

With climate change a top concern among many investors and regulators globally, each strategy in the core ESG ETF suite also includes a special focus on carbon risk. In partnership with Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS)*, each company is examined using a carbon risk rating methodology to determine its current carbon emissions, its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, and its potential exposure to carbon risk relative to other companies in its industry. Using these ratings, each strategy in the suite targets a reduction in aggregate carbon emissions and carbon reserves relative to its parent index, while also targeting an overall improvement in its carbon risk rating.

Hartford Funds Launches Its First Sustainable Investing-Focused Fixed Income ETF

Hartford Funds has launched actively managed ESG-focused fixed income exchange-traded fund (ETF), dubbed the Hartford Sustainable Income ETF, which will be sub-advised by Wellington Management Company LLP.

The fund seeks to provide current income and long-term total return, within a sustainability framework. It will invest across an array of fixed income sectors including high yield, investment grade, bank loans and emerging market debt. In addition, the ETF will incorporate a sustainability framework as part of its principal investment strategy.

The ETF will track its performance against the Bloomberg U.S. Aggregate Bond Index, and it will be managed by the same portfolio management team that currently manages The Hartford Strategic Income Fund. That is, Campe Goodman, Joseph F. Marvan and Robert Burn will serve as the ETF’s portfolio managers.

“We are excited to launch a multi-sector bond fund that uses a sustainable investing approach in an ETF structure,” says Vernon Meyer, chief investment officer at Hartford Funds. “The launch of this actively managed ETF product further demonstrates our commitment to providing options that not only help investors seek to achieve their long-term investment goals, but also provide investors with the opportunity to invest in a product that uses a sustainable investing approach.”

Wellington Management will use its internally developed sustainability framework to identify issuers it believes have demonstrated a commitment to sustainable practices. These issuers include those that Wellington believes can have a positive social and/or environmental impact, are leaders or are demonstrating improvement in ESG characteristics based on Wellington’s proprietary insights, and/or those that Wellington engages with on ESG characteristics to improve ESG disclosure and best practices.

*PLANSPONSOR and PLANADVISER are owned and operated by Institutional Shareholder Service (ISS).