Focus on “Practicalities” of Sustainable Finance under New Institute Director 

Ex-Invesco Research Director Hazra to lead First Sentier MUFG Sustainable Investment Institute, with research planned on engagement, human rights, biodiversity and diversity beyond gender. 

The First Sentier MUFG Sustainable Investment Institute has appointed Sudip Hazra as its new Director, with a brief to deliver “research that has practical application” to the sustainable investment strategies of asset owners.  

In his new role, Hazra will be responsible for formulating an “ongoing pipeline of pertinent research” for the sustainable investing community, including asset owners, consultants and a broader range of stakeholders. 

He will be leveraging the knowledge base of specialists in the field using the global reach of the Institute, facilitating both in-person and virtual events based on the research. 

In addition to interacting with institutional investors, Hazra will engage with non-profits, academics, think tanks, sector experts, and data providers to enhance research output.  

Under his stewardship, the initiative will focus on practical outcomes for investors that want to enhance their sustainable investment approach and understanding of regulatory risks.

Hazra was previously Director of ESG Research at investment management firm Invesco, where he was responsible for leading on the implementation of a global net zero investment research framework and developing compliance processes for Article 8 and 9 funds under the EU Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation. 

Before joining Invesco, he was Head of ESG Research and Responsible Investment at European financial services company Kepler Cheuvreux, where he led a sellside research team focusing on ESG thematic and company research.

Kate Turner, Global Head of Responsible Investment at First Sentier Investors, told ESG Investor that Hazra’s “substantial” sustainable research experience made him the right fit for the role.

“Sudip, together with the team, will look to deliver research that has practical application and can assist investors in their capital allocation decisions, company engagement programmes, and broader stakeholder engagement and policy advocacy,” Turner added. “With Sudip spearheading research for the Institute, we will deepen our knowledge and shape how we can collectively respond to addressing these complex issues.” 

Enhancing sustainability research 

The First Sentier MUFG Sustainable Investment Institute was established in 2021, jointly supported by First Sentier and the Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG). First Sentier Investors has more than £119.8 billion (US$152.3 billion) in AuM, with its clients including institutional investors and pension funds. 

The objective of the Institute is to “commission and publish high-quality research on a range of sustainability and sustainable investment related topics” with the aim of enhancing industry awareness of sustainable investment, reporting on best practice and market trends, and “promoting a greater understanding of how such issues can impact long-term investment performance”. 

Turner said that the “complexity of the sustainability issues that investors face today requires much deeper analysis”. 

Takayuki Yasuda, Deputy President at Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, said the initiative targets the fostering of industry debate on “critical sustainability topics” and responding to investors seeking “robust research” that increases awareness and understanding of ESG issues and “drives change”. This includes the impact of regulation and how trends effect investor, company, and sector performance.  

The institute most recently published research on the ‘developing regulatory landscape of sustainable investing’, which encompassed systemic risks such as climate change and the impact on investor ability to “take informed investment decisions”. 

Other recent reports covered microplastics, microfibres and the challenges of the “rapid evolution” of sustainable investment for fund governance.  

Four core themes  

Turner confirmed that going forward the institute’s focus areas will include constructive company engagement, human rights due diligence, biodiversity, and diversity beyond gender. 

The UN Principles for Responsible Investment recently released guidance that offers private market investors tools and resources “adopt consistent human rights practices and make more informed investment decisions”.  

In recent report, UK-based Impax Asset Management called on governments to implement stronger regulation to incentivise corporates to protect and restore biodiversity, and in its 2023 Gender Equality Index report, Bloomberg found that the 484 companies comprising the index were taking action on diversity and inclusion.  

While the initiative’s research focus is “broad”, it will “comprise both long-standing and innovative themes that deserve deeper analysis around their ESG risk, opportunities, and impact”, Turner added. 

The practical information hub for asset owners looking to invest successfully and sustainably for the long term. As best practice evolves, we will share the news, insights and data to guide asset owners on their individual journey to ESG integration.

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