07 Nov 2019

Why millennial money will drive change around the world

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Millennial money matters. Half the world’s population is now under 301, and this huge cohort is predicted to becomeincreasingly wealthy, growing in purchasing power from workplace earnings and inheritances from baby-boomer parents.They stand to inherit as much as USD 30 trillion by 2050 in North America alone, benefiting from a hugeintergenerational transfer of wealth.2
Yet, millennials - and the younger Gen Z generation - have notably different spending habits and priorities than theirparents. For one, they are more worried about deteriorating environmental conditions, and eager to make a positiveimpact, even at a cost to their own comfort. A survey by the World Economic Forum revealed that 78% of people aged 18-30would be prepared to “change their lifestyle to protect nature and the environment”,1 echoing a recent US survey whichshowed that about 55% of millennials working with a financial adviser had discussed environmental, social and governance(ESG) investing, compared to just 25% of Gen Xers, and 11% of baby boomers.3

Breaking down investment barriers

However, for millennials (or any other generation) wanting to make a direct impact with their money, impact investinghas historically been a difficult proposition. Until recently, it involved financing unlisted companies or fundingprojects through loans. Such large and illiquid investments are difficult for individual investors to access. And goodintentions can only go so far – if someone lacks the necessary knowledge, it will be a challenge to evaluate whether acertain project or company is likely to be financially successful and effective at making a difference.
But times are changing – fast. More and more people are putting their money to work sustainably through much simplermeans: exchange-traded funds (ETFs). So far this year, sustainable ETFs in Europe have seen €11.5bn of inflows – almostthree times as much as the €4bn recorded for all of 2018.4 Millennials are early adopters of ETFs and twice as likely toinvest in ETFs than baby boomers, according to Accenture.5

 

Millennials and sustainable ETFs – a match made in heaven?

ETFs are the posterchild for simple and democratised investing, giving investors of all sizes access to a wide range ofmarkets, asset classes and strategies. ESG and sustainable investing is no exception. The initial investment needed ismuch lower than what’s usually required to directly fund environmental or social projects, or to invest in unlistedfirms. By investing in ETFs to support gender equality or climate-friendly projects, millennials can start using theirspare change to build sustainable portfolios with confidence and ease.
ETFs are also scalable. They’re well-suited to technology-based forms of distribution and execution – yet another reasonfor their proven popularity with tech-savvy millennials. According to Accenture’s findings, two-thirds of millennialswant some form of self-directed investment portal, while only 30% of Generation-X and baby-boomers do. 5 ETFs areparticularly suitable for robo-advisory services, the construction of digital portfolios and digital order routing.
In short, doing well by doing good becomes more than a pretty slogan with ethical ETFs. Beyond their potential forperformance, ETFs also serve to democratise access to impact investments and are well-suited for technology-basedsolutions. For the millennial generation, that’s a match made in heaven.

Impact funds built around the UN’s key sustainability goals

Lyxor offers ETFs that both create value for investors and mobilise capital towards companies involved in solvingsocietal and environmental problems. Of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we offer solutionsthat tackle four.

1.Climate Action

In 2017, we were the first asset manager to pioneer a green bond ETF. As its name suggests, the fund invests in bondswhose proceeds are earmarked for pro-climate projects. In addition to investing in investment-grade bonds rigorouslyassessed and approved by the Climate Bonds Initiative, it offers investors a low-cost and transparent way to ease thetransition to a low-carbon economy. Clients have responded well to our unique vehicle, which so far has accumulated over$160m in assets.4

Why are investors so excited about green bonds?

2.Gender Equality

Our gender equality ETF – the first of its kind in Europe – offers investors the chance to direct capital towardscompanies leading the charge to a more equitable world for women in the workforce. Why should companies care about fairrepresentation? The business impact is beneficial, whether through talent acquisition and retention, customer insight,and better governance, to name a few. And investors will be happy to know that you can still do well by doing good. Onestudy by McKinsey showed that gender-diverse companies were 21% more likely to outperform their peers on EBIT margin, ameasure of profitability.6

Take a stand for women in the workforce

3.Clean Water and Sanitation

Lyxor’s first sustainable ETF – the Lyxor World Water UCITS ETF, launched back in 2007 – helps investors tackle waterscarcity, as water consumption continues to outpace population growth. The fund invests in global companies which deriveat least 40% of their revenue from water infrastructure, utilities or treatment activities. We believe the waterscarcity challenge can be alleviated by directing capital towards these sectors, thereby facilitating capex throughreduced cost of capital.

Turn the tide on water scarcity

4.Affordable and Clean Energy

Also launched in 2007, the Lyxor New Energy UCITS ETF invests in companies from around the world involved in activitiessuch as renewable energy, distributed energy or energy efficiency. According to the UN, energy is the dominantcontributor to climate change, accounting for around 60% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.7 The opportunity forinvestors is hard to ignore – the share of renewable energy in the global energy generation market is expected to growat a compound annual growth rate of 8.5% between 2019-2027.8

1World Economic Forum, Global Shapers Survey, http://www.shaperssurvey2017.org/static/data/WEF_GSC_Annual_Survey_2017.pdf
2Accenture, 2012, The “Greater” Wealth Transfer: Capitalizing on the Intergenerational Shift in Wealth
3Allianz Life, ESG Investor Sentiment Survey, May 2019, https://www.allianzlife.com/-/media/files/allianz/pdfs/esg-white-paper.pdf
4Source: Lyxor International Asset Management. Data as at 31/10/2019.
5Accenture, Millennials & Money, https://www.accenture.com/t20171219T131118Z__w__/us-en/_acnmedia/PDF-68/Accenture-Millennials-and-Money-Millennial-Next-Era-Wealth-Management.pdf
6McKinsey, Delivering through Diversity, Jan 2018. Financial performance analysis showed that top-quartile companies were 21% more likely than fourth quartile companies to outperform national industry peers on EBIT margin, but also were 27% more likely than fourth quartile companies to have industry-leading performance on longer-term value creation, as measured using economic profit margin (Net Operating Profit Less Adjusted Taxes – [Invested Capital x Weighted Average Cost of Capital]). Analysis performed on over 1,000 companies in 12 countries. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results.
7UN SDG website, as at October 2019.
8Source: RobecoSAM, Alternative Energy RobecoSAM Quarterly Update Q1 2019.

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