Investment Product and Service Launches

Wisconsin and Voya Investment Management reduce fees on Tomorrow’s Scholar 529 program; Russell Investments and Hamilton Lane announce partnership; As You Sow Launches S&P 500 Racial Justice and DEI Scorecards; and more.

Wisconsin and Voya Investment Management Reduce Fees on Tomorrow’s Scholar 529 Program

Wisconsin’s Department of Financial Institutions has reduced its state fee on its Tomorrow’s Scholar 529 program to 6 basis points (bps).

In addition, Voya Investment Management, the asset management business of Voya Financial Inc. and the program’s manager, reduced its age-based fees by an average of 4%.

“The state fee reductions are part of our ongoing commitment to low costs for participants and to help encourage savings for higher education. The program continues to reduce fees across the board for 529 participants, which includes commissions and administrative fees as well as investment fees,” says Kathy Blumenfeld, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, which oversees the program.

With more than $2.3 billion in assets, the Tomorrow’s Scholar 529 plan is one of Wisconsin’s state-sponsored college savings plans administered by the College Savings Program Board and the state. It is exclusively sold through financial advisers throughout the United States. Voya provides investment management and administrative services along with distribution of the program through financial advisers.

The investments in the program, which are overseen by Voya Investment Management’s Multi Asset and Strategic Solutions (MASS) team, offers more than 30 investment options, including age- and risk-based options, using an active management, multi-manager approach. Voya’s MASS team recently moved to update its strategic asset allocations in the age- and risk-based options to position them for the current investing environment.

Funds saved through Tomorrow’s Scholar can be used for higher education expenses, such as tuition and fees, room and board, books, computers and related technology at colleges, universities, technical colleges, graduate schools and certificate programs nationwide.

Russell Investments and Hamilton Lane Announce Partnership

Russell Investments and Hamilton Lane have announced a partnership that will provide Russell Investments’ global clients with access to Hamilton Lane’s private markets investment solutions, research and technology tools.

“Given increasing market complexities and rising needs of financial security, fiduciaries are looking for partners that can seamlessly provide tailored, differentiated investment solutions,” says Michelle Seitz, chairman and CEO of Russell Investments. “This partnership demonstrates our 85-year fiduciary commitment to provide comprehensive, leading-edge investment solutions and risk management to our clients. The resulting one-stop access to extensive private and public markets capabilities is, I believe, unmatched in our industry today.”

“At Hamilton Lane, we are committed to providing private markets access to a broader group of investors around the world, and this partnership is another exciting development in support of that objective,” said Mario Giannini, CEO of Hamilton Lane. “We believe our investment capabilities and expertise, together with Russell Investments’ strong outsourced investment solutions, will enable enhanced and integrated access to the global private markets for Russell Investments’ clients around the world.”

As You Sow Launches S&P 500 Racial Justice and DEI Scorecards

As You Sow has released two S&P 500 scorecards—one assessing companies on racial justice and the other on workplace equity disclosures. The data includes 22 key performance indicators on racial justice and 31 key performance indicators on workplace diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) disclosure.

The data is presented in two interactive tools enabling sorting and comparisons by sector, market cap, number of employees and geography. Each company is scored against its peers and any three companies can be overlaid for competitive comparison. 

Among the top 10 for racial justice are Intel, HP and Coca-Cola. At the bottom are Domino’s Pizza, O’Reilly Automotive and Verisign. Leaders in workplace equity disclosure are Intel, Goldman Sachs and Apple. At the bottom are Domino’s Pizza, Live Nation and Dollar Tree.

“The only way to end corporate complicity in systemic racism is to confront it head-on,” says Olivia Knight, As You Sow’s racial justice initiative coordinator. “Our goal in releasing the racial justice scorecard is to provide a helping hand to get companies on the path to end systemic racism, starting with the corporate sector.”

The release marks the continuation of As You Sow’s campaign to “engage directly with corporations and eradicate the systemic racism perpetuated by corporate policies and practices.” The scorecards can be used as the tool for corporate engagements and serve to highlight areas for improvement as well as provide opportunities for peer comparisons, says the company.

J.P. Morgan AM Releases Project Spark

J.P. Morgan Asset Management has launched Project Spark, a new initiative aimed at providing capital to funds managed by diverse, emerging alternative managers, including minority-led and women-led venture capital (VC) funds and other private funds.

As part of the new initiative, the firm has committed to an initial $25 million investment in five or more funds, to be governed by a newly established investment committee comprised of diverse senior executives across J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

“Despite increasing dialogue across the alternative investment industry on the need for more diverse managers, there is clearly still a long way to go, which is why we are committed to making a difference by providing capital to diverse emerging managers through Project Spark,” says Jamie Kramer, head of J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s Alternatives Solutions Group and the chair of the Project Spark Investment Committee. “Through our investments in funds managed by women and diverse managers, we’re not only providing a capital commitment, but also seeking to create a network between our newly established Project Spark investment committee and the diverse managers in which we invest.”  

FactSet Launches the Truvalue Labs Sustainable Development Goals Monitor

FactSet has launched the Truvalue Labs SDG Monitor, designed to enable investors and other interested parties to view the alignment of corporations around the globe to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in real time and review how this alignment differs in emphasis across regions.

Truvalue Labs, which was recently acquired by FactSet, has built a dataset underpinning the SDG Monitor that arises from more than 100,000 information sources in 13 languages, such as news, nongovernmental organization reports, industry publications, trade journals and social media, and now covers more than 21,000 companies worldwide. The monitor itself is free to use and is organized by country and/or region, allowing investors and investment professionals to see how companies in aggregate compare across regions in their alignment to the SDGs.

The analysis goes beyond the conventional approach of measuring SDG alignment via percentage of company revenue categorized by the goals and centers on externalities from a stakeholder perspective. For example, a clean energy car company that has a history of poor labor practices will be evaluated not just on the goal of clean energy, an area in which it generates revenue, but also on the goal of decent work, in which it does not.

“FactSet is filling a significant data gap,” says Adam Salvatori, global head of environmental, social and governance (ESG) client solutions and research at FactSet. “Our research and analysis are helping to lead the way by focusing on a more holistic external stakeholder assessment of ESG impact. The Truvalue Labs SDG Monitor is one major step on that journey.”

“The UN Global Compact drives business awareness and action in support of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Fulfilling these ambitions will take an unprecedented effort by all sectors in society,” says Lila Karbassi, chief of programs at United Nations Global Compact. “We are delighted to see Truvalue Labs harnessing technology to provide a new layer of understanding around real-world outcomes through the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”