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Vanguard launches new sustainable fund

08 December 2021

The firm has been “slow to embrace sustainable investing”, according to one analyst.

By Tom Aylott,


Vanguard launched its Global Sustainable Equity fund on Wednesday as part of a new environmental, social and governance (ESG) range, SustainableLife.

The collection is made up of four actively managed funds that aim to make global long term returns from environmentally sustainable investments.

The other funds in the range are the SustainableLife 40-50%, 60-70% and 80-90% equity portfolios. These are aimed to complement pre-existing Vanguard ESG funds.

They will all be run using four sustainability principles: a commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 in alignment with the Paris agreement; exclusion of companies that may have a negative impact on society and the environment; engagement with portfolio companies on material ESG issues; and the requirement for companies to follow good governance practices as a precondition for investment.

Dzmitry Lipski, head of funds research at interactive investor, said Vanguard had been “slow to embrace a sustainable investing range” but added that these funds filled an “important gap”.

All funds in the range will charge 0.48%, double the amount on some of Vanguard’s other ESG funds like the Vanguard ESG Developed World All Cap Equity Index portfolio, which costs 0.20%. Lipski noted however that he expected these charges to come down over time.

“Vanguard has a history of slashing costs as assets increase and while ethical investing does not have to be a race to the bottom on costs, charges do matter,” he said.

The additional charge will cover the cost of Wellington Management, which has been appointed as manager for the funds. The firm has a track record in running sustainable assets, with its first ESG portfolio launched in 2006, when environmentally focused funds were not as popular.

Wellington’s $321m (£243m) Climate Strategy fund has returned 85.8% since its launch in 2018, beating both the MSCI ACWI benchmark and IA Global sector average peer.

Total return of fund vs sector and benchmark since launch

Source: FE Analytics

It was also a founding member of the Net Zero Fund Managers initiative in November, so a commitment to sustainable investment is a central aim for the company.

Vanguard is the second-largest asset manager in the world behind BlackRock. It currently runs 418 funds that value $8.4trn in assets.

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