Hard work and relationships key to launching products during a pandemic July 2020

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Meaghan Victor, head of SPDR ETF Asia Pacific distribution at Street Global Advisors, credits her tight-knit team’s hard work during a crisis for getting their latest product launch off the ground so quickly.

Why was it important to launch an ESG ETF in the current environment?

ESG investing in Australia has reached a tipping point. More than $280 million has already been invested in ESG ETFs this year, surpassing the whole of 2019. And as more wealth is transferred from baby boomers to their millennial children, that trend is set to continue.

Critics always said a knock to markets would temper demand for ethical investments but in recent months, the reverse is true. More investors are looking at ways to align their values with their investments and in many ways, recent events have heightened demand for sustainable investing.

A turbulent 2020 has put a spotlight on ESG issues and have pulled more vague “S” and “G” attributes into sharper focus, broadly influencing investors to examine their investments through a sustainable lens. With better data, universal definitions and improved technology, a number of obstacles to ESG investing have been resolved.

An ESG ETF is a powerful proposition for many types of investors as it as it gives them a simple way to access an allocation at a relatively low cost.

This index was launched by S&P/ASX last year, why do you think it took a little while for an ETF to be launched over it?

Our approach to products is well-considered. We do not launch products, hoping for them to take off. We build them based on what our clients are telling us and their specific demands.

Was it difficult to launch a product during a pandemic?

We were aided by our tight-knit team’s hard work and strong relationship with leading index provider S&P.

Our relationship with S&P dates back to 2001 with the launch of STW in Australia and as far as 1993 with the launch of SPY in the United States.

What is different about launching a product at the moment?

Well, we won’t be ringing the bell in person at the ASX on Wednesday when E200 lists on the stock exchange! And in addition, our adviser and investor education pieces about the new fund are all taking place virtually.

And finally, can you share your thoughts on the current pandemic and how it might impact future product developments?

The pandemic means we need to continue to focus on innovation, but our clients remain at the centre of everything we do. The demand for ETFs and ESG continues to grow.

We continue to review our offering to make sure we are meeting client needs today and well into the future.

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