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UBS Taps Exec to Head New Sustainable Investing Push

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With interest in socially responsible investing on a tear, UBS Wealth Management Americas has named an executive to lead its efforts in this area: Stephen Freedman will now be head of the firm’s Sustainable Investing Solutions effort, charged with expanding the wirehouse’s products and services in this area.

“He will also promote the understanding of Sustainable Investing concepts and solutions among financial advisors in order to develop new business and help clients pursue their sustainable and impact investment goals,” UBS Wealth Management Americas said in a statement.

Worldwide, UBS’ clients have about 35% of their investable assets in sustainable holdings — $972 billion, up from about $932 billion in 2015.

The Global Sustainable Investment Alliance said Friday that assets tied to sustainable and responsible investment strategies totaled $23 trillion in 2016, a 25% increase from 2014. The group says such investments now account for 26% of all professionally managed assets globally.

“Sustainability is a cornerstone of our business, and I look forward to … scaling up sustainable investing offerings across all asset classes and product areas,” explained Freedman, in a statement. UBS is “uniquely positioned to mobilize more private wealth toward sustainable investing solutions with respect to causes that our clients care about, as well as helping to meet traditional return-based investing needs.”

In the Americas, UBS has been working with venture capital fund Rethink Impact to help raise at least $110 million; half of these funds came from UBS clients, the firm says.

At the World Economic Forum’s meeting earlier this year, UBS pledged to direct at least $5 billion of client assets to sustainable investments over the next five years.

Freedman, who joined UBS in 1998 as an economist and policy analyst in Switzerland, reports to John Amore, head of Wealth Management Advice for UBS’ Americas business.


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