ETF industry veteran Dr Linda Zhang has launched her own ETF investment management firm, Purview Investments, designed to offer high quality ETF research and actively managed targeted ETF portfolios to mass affluent investors and institutional asset owners.
Zhang was Head of Research and Senior Portfolio Manager for Windhaven Investment Management, where she was responsible for portfolio management and led the firm’s research team in areas of global macro research, model development, ETF research and implementation.
Before that, she held fund manager positions with MFS Investment Management and BlackRock, and was the head of Quantitative Research at State Street Research. Her background includes years of investing in global markets and analysing how ESG principles can potentially have a positive impact on a portfolio through the use of ETFs.
And it is those principles that lie behind her first product, Purview Impact Solutions, a global multi-asset product built using primarily environmental, social and governance (ESG) ETFs as the underlying holdings. It is designed to provide clients with the opportunity to invest in companies around the world that are screened according to industry accepted ESG criteria. The investment solution is managed using Zhang’s proprietary research and process.
Zhang says: “The ESG concept has been relatively slow to catch on in the US compared with Europe. But the demand is rising, with limited full blown ESG ETF managed portfolios in the market. I feel there is a business opportunity and I have a passion and belief in many values represented by the ESG principles.
“I believe our value system evolves. For the most part of the last 15 years, I have been one of many portfolio managers who focused just on performance. I realise now that returns should not have to be the only goal. Many investors look beyond that and want to have a positive influence on the environment and society. Many people want to satisfy their conscience as well as to meet their investment goals.”
Zhang’s personal beliefs have also had what she calls a wake-up call following her recent trip back to Harbin, her birthplace in China.
“Last year I made a couple of visits to my family in China and was so wowed by the economic progress and the cutting-edge technological advancements in the country,” she says. “I also noticed that while the environment has been improved in many cities, it is far from ideal and I had first hand experience of the pollution in the city while farmers burned their roots of crops to get ready for next year’s planting. Unsustainable farming practice around the city has left the beautiful city shrouded in a dark cloud every day and many people were choking.”
The sad result for Zhang, on a personal level, is that her fears came closer to home with the news that her sister, a fit and active non-smoker, has just been diagnosed with late stage lung cancer.
“Protecting the earth is not a political issue. It’s an economic, generational and personal issue,” Zhang says. “Each one of us needs to think about how we can preserve the earth we all live on.”
Zhang also wants Purview Impact Solutions to represent other values that are important, such as gender diversity in workplace, investing in firms who promote female talents to management and boards. As a co-founder of Women in ETFs, she gets it that diverse opinions lead to better decision making.
Zhang’s business goals at this early stage is to target high net worth individuals with USD100,000 to invest and smaller foundations who may be neglected by pension consultants. She hopes that the emerging manager programs at large pension funds will find her active ESG strategy as a unique alternative.
“Many of these foundations and pension funds understand and want an ESG principled product,” she says. “We don’t have to preach to them.”
The goal for the first year is to grow to a significant asset base. Zhang says that Purview is committed to build a sustainable business for the long run, with more innovative products to come. Fees on Purview Impact Solutions, the initial actively managed global multi-asset ESG ETF product are 45 basis points.