Union Bancaire Privée (UBP) and NN Investment Partners have each launched trade finance-related funds.

UBP has partnered with alternative credit investment manager Fasanara Capital for its fund, which will invest in short-term, investment-grade, corporate trade receivables and digital invoices bought from small- and medium-sized enterprises around the world with a core emphasis on Europe.

According to UBP, the strategy is supported by the European Investment Fund, among other institutions, and is a “real-economy impact investment solution”.

It described Fasanara as “a leading player in the European market of fintech-originated receivables with one of the longest transactional track records in the sector”.

Francesco Filia, CEO at Fasanara Capital, said: “As commercial banks withdraw to focus primarily on large corporates, alternative sources of stable funding are badly needed by European SMEs.

“Institutional investors have both the need and the opportunity to diversify away from public bonds and equities, and fill the gap. We are honoured to have joined forces with UBP to help institutional investors channel funds efficiently into the real economy, and have an impact.”

Trade and receivable finance, also known as factoring, accounts for nearly €2trn in euro financing volume or 11% of EU GDP, Filia said.

NN IP has partnered with London-based Channel Capital Advisors LLP for its trade finance fund, which it said offers institutional investors access to a conservative portfolio of globally-sourced short-dated trade finance loans.

It said portfolio construction was aimed at properly diversifying risk while still allowing for a robust analysis of each individual transaction on credit and environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria.

“In the current low-interest-rate environment, there is growing demand for trade finance amongst institutional investors,” said Suresh Hegde, head of structured private debt at NN IP.

“Building on our 10-year track record in financing international exports, we have spent a considerable amount of time assessing the short-dated trade finance market. We are delighted to offer a strategy which allows institutional investors to benefit from the attractive characteristics of these assets in a robust and responsible manner, without adding undesirable idiosyncratic risk.”

Aon launches new impact investing fund for DB, DC

Aon has announced the launch of a high-conviction active equity fund focussed on investing in leading companies whose products and services are addressing the world’s long-term challenges.

The fund also applies active ownership to catalyse more sustainable business practices.

The fund invests in external asset managers identified and blended by Aon’s investment manager research team. It has already been integrated into Aon’s defined contribution (DC) solutions, the Aon MasterTrust and Bigblue Touch, Aon’s group personal pension.

Aon said the fund was also accessible and suitable for defined benefit schemes.

“Pension scheme trustees are increasingly looking to develop more sustainable investment portfolios,” said Tim Manuel, head of responsible investment for Aon in the UK.

“New regulatory requirements have drawn attention to the issues, but this is also driven by a growing belief about the best way to generate returns in a changing world. A shift in sentiment among their scheme members about how their money is invested is also supporting the change.

“Impact investing is one way of meeting that approach.”

The fund has attracted £100m (€112.5m) in assets under management since being launched in September.

LGIM surpasses £100bn in DC assets

Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) now has £102bn in DC assets under management, more than double the total in 2015.

Since 2018, total DC assets under management increased by more than a third, driven by strong inflows from bundled and investment-only clients, member contributions from existing and new schemes as well as large asset transitions from other providers.

LGIM said close collaboration with schemes and members had been a big driver of its success.

“Supporting our members through their retirement journeys and giving them the tools they need to help them feel better about their finances has been central to LGIM’s strategy,” said Emma Douglas, head of defined contribution at the asset manager. “Investment in technology has played a key role here.”

Over the past years, LGIM has rolled out a number of initiatives, including video benefit statements, a financial wellbeing hub and an app that gives savers real-time access to employee benefits information including their pension as well as other applications.

Douglas added: “A theme that has continued to come through member feedback is that savers are interested in building as much as possible in their pots as well as finding out how their investments can make a difference.”

LGIM has rolled out a pilot with Tumelo, a fin-tech platform that allows savers to indicate how they would vote on the key issues at the companies they hold in their funds.

LGIM recently strengthened its climate impact corporate engagement programme and will be applying it across all its DC default funds.

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