Young professional of the year/rising star: Emily Weng

Channels: IMPACT

Companies: BlackRock

People: Emily Weng

A behind-the-scenes influence on BlackRock's research output pits Emily Weng, 25, ahead of the competition in the rising star category.

Emily Weng is an associate in the global fixed income responsible investing team at global asset management giant BlackRock.

BlackRock's global fixed income team increasingly integrates ESG and climate risk tools and strategies into the investment process.

The team also partners with product teams to guide the launch of client investment products that incorporate environmental and social themes.

Emily WengWeng serves as an ESG bond and impact reporting specialist, regularly conducting and providing analysis on green, social and sustainability bond issuances and their resulting impact reporting.

She has impressed her colleagues by becoming the resident impact data expert on green bonds. With each green bond issuance, Weng prepares an internal report for portfolio managers indicating whether the bond is a credible green bond, eligible for indexes, and what 'shade of green' BlackRock has rated it.

She also helped develop the BlackRock green shading taxonomy and readily shares it with issuers and underwriters.

According to Ashley Schulten, head of climate solutions, fixed income at BlackRock, Weng has quickly become a deep expert in the green bond sector through detailed analysis of green bond documentation, meetings with issuers, engagement with index providers and consultation with clients.

"She provides a detailed write up of each bond coming to the market, sometimes within the hour of seeing a launch," says Schulten.

Weng also prepares BlackRock's annual Green Bond Impact Report, which outlines the estimated environmental metrics per $1 million invested in a BlackRock green bond fund.

This report includes metrics covering tonnes of carbon dioxide avoided, MWh of renewable energy generated, MWh of energy savings, hectares of land area reforested, cubic metres of water saved, and cubic metres of waste collected, among others.

This process takes months of issuer interaction.

"The green bond impact report takes her hundreds of hours of data collection and issuer outreach. It requires mapping of impact metrics into our Aladdin data system to be matched against holdings. That has allowed investors to see in a one-stop ESG report what their green bond holdings are, how we have shaded them, and what the impact is," adds Schulten.

Keen to streamline this process and to make it less onerous for BlackRock and others, Weng has engaged with an initiative called Green Assets Wallet around blockchain reporting on impact metrics for green bonds.

She posts this report via the Green Assets Wallet and has encouraged green bond issuers to do so as well, which has resulted in at least 25 new blockchain impact reports added.

Additionally, Weng maps the use of proceeds to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Metrics and reporting are essential in making impact investing credible, making Weng's contribution integral to BlackRock's ESG drive.

She is currently working to develop scalable ways to provide impact reporting across social bond holdings.

By providing a fund-level impact report, she is helping prove to green and social bond issuers that this data is useful to investors.

"This type of messy data work often goes unsung but is a key part of helping make the impact sector more mainstream," says Schulten.

Weng comes to this role from a background in data and systems but has a passion for sustainability.

She has also recently posted a blog on her experience with creating this impact report during Covid-19.