Press Release: Wespath and BlackRock Launch Industry-First Low-Carbon Economy "Transition Ready" Russell Top 200 Strategy
October 8, 2019
For Immediate Release
Contact: Lisa L. Drew
Managing Director, Communications
Glenview, IL—Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath) and its subsidiaries have committed $300 million to the first-ever enhanced-passive low-carbon “Transition Ready” strategy benchmarked to the Russell Top 200 Index, comprised of the largest 200 U.S. stocks on a market capitalization basis. The strategy, designed in collaboration with BlackRock, Inc., seeks to deliver long-term competitive financial returns relative to the index by tilting investments toward companies best positioned for the transition to a low-carbon future.
This investment strategy strengthens Wespath’s partnership with BlackRock and builds on the launch of the Transition Ready framework, announced in 2018, which included commitments to strategies benchmarked to the Russell 1000 Value Index and MSCI World Ex US Index.
To date, Wespath and its subsidiaries have committed over $1 billion to Transition Ready strategies, and approximately 26% of their passively managed equity strategies now employ the framework.
“While only a year out from the 2018 launch, we have been very pleased with the performance of the Transition Ready strategies,” said Dave Zellner, Wespath’s Chief Investment Officer. “Adding the new strategy continues to align our benchmark-tracking investments with our belief that companies skilled in adapting their business models to prepare for the low-carbon transition will be more resilient over the long-term.”
The Transition Ready framework seeks to capitalize on Wespath’s view that the market is inefficient in accurately pricing the risks and opportunities associated with the transition to a low-carbon economy. Through BlackRock’s proprietary analysis and scoring of companies based on their overall “Transition Readiness,” the framework recommends overweighting companies with greater Transition Readiness characteristics—for example, those using natural resources more efficiently and investing in carbon-efficient technologies—and underweighting those that are less prepared for the transition.
The framework applies a sector neutral approach by assigning individual security weightings within each sector based on their comparative transition readiness scores. For example, the framework favors energy companies demonstrating skill in adapting their business models in preparation for the transition to a low-carbon economy. It also underweights those companies in the energy sector that are less prepared for the transition and therefore exposed to significant risks resulting from a changing regulatory environment and shifting consumer preferences. More information on scoring and weighting is available here.
Further details about the low-carbon economy and the Transition Ready framework are available in this detailed Frequently Asked Questions document.
About Wespath Benefits and Investments
Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath) is a not-for-profit agency that has been serving The United Methodist Church (UMC) for over a century. In accordance with its fiduciary duties, Wespath administers benefit plans and, together with its subsidiaries, including Wespath Institutional Investments, invests nearly $24 billion in assets on behalf of over 100,000 participants and over 100 United Methodist-affiliated institutions (as of June 30, 2019). Wespath funds invest in a sustainable manner that supports long-term value creation while having a positive impact on the environment and society and upholding the values of the UMC. Wespath maintains the largest reporting faith-based pension fund in the world. For additional information about Wespath Benefits and Investments, please follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
About Wespath Institutional Investments
Wespath Institutional Investments (WII) is a not-for-profit subsidiary of Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath), a general agency of The United Methodist Church (UMC). WII provides investment solutions for institutional investors related to the UMC, including foundations, children’s homes, older adult facilities, higher education institutions and healthcare organizations. WII offers diversified global exposure to its world-class investment managers through a family of daily priced funds. WII’s investment process proactively incorporates the consideration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investments across asset classes and in the selection of external asset managers.