IMPACT Awards 2021

Personality of the year: Emily Chew, Calvert Research and Management

During her time as Calvert Research and Management's chief responsible investment officer, Emily Chew has overseen pioneering ESG research, developed engagement strategies and led teams through ESG-related regulatory changes.Emily Chew

Chew has more than 10 years of industry experience, and previously worked at Calvert's parent company, Morgan Stanley Investment Management (MSIM), as its global head of sustainability.

Here, Chew helped lead MSIM's efforts to adopt the EU's Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) for its funds, as well as laying the foundation for MSIM's updated sustainable investing framework. She currently co-chairs MSIM's Sustainability Council.

Chew has also previously worked as global head of ESG research and integration for Manulife Investment Management in Hong Kong and Boston, where she built an ESG investing programme for public markets investments, encompassing research, investee stewardship, thought leadership and product development. She also worked as head of Asia-Pacific ESG Research for MSCI in Beijing and Hong Kong.

During her career, Chew has been involved in several industry-wide initiatives, including the Climate Action 100+ collaborative engagement initiative and the One Planet Asset Managers Initiative Task Force, where she has strived to improve industry standards and promote responsible investing across the wider financial services industry. She has also contributed to the CFA Institute's ESG Technical Working Group, which she says has the potential to "change how the industry discloses ESG/impact investing processes".

It is because of these efforts that this year's judges described Chew as a "consistent sustainability advocate".

Making an impact in labelled bonds

Chew sees multiple factors behind this year's "incredible spike in interest" in impact investing but says labelled bonds and other direct asset classes are the most attractive tools for achieving measurable impact in the sector's arsenal.

Chew told Environmental Finance: "This ability to have impact as a bond investor is quite attractive right now because of the emergence of these labelled bonds. To put a labelled bond out there, you need to be able to disclose how you're going to use the proceeds for either a social or environmental impact. In order to do that, you need to have some level of disclosure, some level of commitment to potentially auditing how those proceeds are used."

Chew added: "What is exciting about that is the emergence of labelled bonds has enabled more impact-first investing among bond investors. It's also exciting because, when you're buying a primary issuance, like a bond that's just been issued in that area, you're directly financing the transition. That's not as easily available to you if you're buying and selling shares."

Looking ahead

Chew identifies four growing topics of interest to investors, including an "incredible spike of interest" in ESG funds, as well as diversity and inclusion, climate and clearer definitions of what impact investing means.

Chew said: "We have seen a huge tsunami of interest from clients of all shapes and sizes, whether they are institutional clients, US, Europe or retail clients, they are allocating more capital towards this space."

The second trend Chew identified was greater focus on direct asset classes and the appeal of having direct positive environmental/social impact, commenting: "In direct asset classes, such as in private markets where there is private equity or real estate, you have quite high potential for impact investing. Again, because you are a direct owner...and that gives you direct control over the impact objectives of that asset."

Calvert also won Asset manager of the year – large in this year's Impact Awards.