Climate Action

Eric A. Glass on what responsible investment means to AllianceBernstein

Ahead of the Sustainable Investment Forum North America 2019, taking place in New York on the 25 September 2019 during NYC Climate Week, we caught up with Eric A. Glass, Portfolio Manager, Fixed Income Impact Strategies, on what responsible investment means to AllianceBernstein.

  • 29 August 2019
  • Rachel Cooper

Ahead of the Sustainable Investment Forum North America 2019, taking place in New York on the 25 September 2019 during NYC Climate Week, we caught up with Eric A. Glass, Portfolio Manager, Fixed Income Impact Strategies, on what responsible investment means to AllianceBernstein. 

Let’s start with some background on AllianceBernstein and your role there? 

AllianceBernstein (AB) is a global asset management and research firm. We have over $550 billion of assets under management, $425 billion of which are run with full ESG integration. As active investors, we’re committed to responsible investing using a three-pillared strategy: 1) Be a responsible corporate citizen for all stakeholders; 2) Deliver the outcomes our clients seek by applying a strong research foundation with active ESG integration and engagement; and 3) Provide differentiated solutions with a diverse platform of Portfolios with Purpose. As a portfolio manager and impact investor in our Fixed Income Tax-Exempt group, I run a municipal impact portfolio with over $600MM in assets. I’m a member of both our global committee for corporate responsibility and our Responsible Investing Steering Committee.  

Responsible Investing means different things to different people. What does it mean for AllianceBernstein and how do you incorporate into your decision-making and investment strategy? 

For us, being a responsible corporation and a responsible investor go hand in hand—so we work very hard at both. In investing, we integrate environmental, social and governance factors in our research across all actively managed services—and we engage with companies on ESG issues. Our proprietary digital research and collaboration platforms, ESIGHT for equities and PRISM for fixed income, incorporate AB research and external views, allowing us to conduct the best risk/return analysis for every security we invest in. We’ve also designed purpose-driven portfolios to meet client’s needs. My Muni Impact portfolio invests in historically marginalized communities with low socioeconomic status—each investment with a specific intent. For example, when we invest in healthcare, we want to reduce the life-expectancy gap between people who live in wealthy zip codes and those who don’t. We identify and track custom key performance indicators to evaluate our impact over time.

How important are specific measurement metrics to Responsible Investing?

Improving measurement techniques is the cornerstone of a true commitment to responsible investing. Developing indicators that accurately reflect ESG factors can empower investors to engage with management teams, ask questions and promote positive change. Measurement isn’t easy for a number of reasons, including the fact that different metrics are relevant for different industries. That said, we do have portfolios with specific measurement targets, including carbon measurement, gender diversity on boards and exposure to UN Sustainable Development Goals as well as the customized targets I mentioned for Muni Impact. We provide specific disclosure on our engagements with issuers in our portfolios. Advancing disclosure is a key area of focus for AB, because we want to increase the transparency of our engagement for investors.  

What is the importance of events such as the Sustainable Investment Forum for businesses interested in investment? 

The Sustainable Investment Forum, and events like it, create a valuable dialogue among asset owners and asset managers. Responsible investing is a rapidly evolving field, and no single person or company has all the answers. If we can learn from each other, we can advance responsible investing faster than we can separately. One of our goals at the Forum is to get a better understanding of how we can meet our clients’ responsible investing objectives, because responsible solutions aren’t one-size-fits-all.  

AllianceBernstein is a Silver Sponsor at the Sustainable Investment Forum North America, taking place in New York on 25 September 2019 during Climate Week NYC, find out more here

Visit AllianceBernstein's website here.