Rishma Moennasing is lead Funds&Sustainability for the Rabobank Investment Centre, responsible for the sustainable investment policy for the bank, active ownership and ESG integration, manager selection and monitoring of (mandate) funds. She is with Rabobank for more than12 years. Before Rabobank she had a similar role at ABN AMRO Private Banking & Asset Management.
1. When and how did you start your career in the financial industry? Did you have any other vocation?
I started my career at ABNAMRO asset management and private banking. To set up the open architecture third party fund platform and a process for selecting and monitoring investment funds. Then I moved to Rabobank to set up the fund platform and add sustainable and impact investing. And after the success of our investment product I leaded the to switch the investments from to fund of mandates en launched the Rabobank Sustainable policy for investments for all our funds of mandates.
2. What’s your biggest challenge being responsible for the sustainable policy and as a Fund Selector?
The biggest challenge was to find the right asset managers being leaders in integrating sustainability in their investment process and investing tools, research and data to make sustainability a core focus point in their investments and also measure and report this. We started at an early stage by focussing ESG-screening of funds and als due to the SFDR and the green taxonomy it is becoming a standard in investments.
3. Why do you believe sustainability in finance is so important? where do you believe the future of sustainability in finance is headed?
These are beautiful and important questions. Sustainability is not only about how to manage sustainable risk what is also required by SFR rules, but also to find the ESG-leaders, some companies have already taken steps to move to more sustainable business models, other companies are still lagging their peers and will have to invest in the future and to increase capital expenditures to become sustainable these are all cost and might affect their future return. Also due to regulation and pressure from the society it has become a standard to integrate a sustainable screening in the investment process of funds strategies.
4. What has been the most extraordinary thing you have seen in markets as a fund selector?
I have seen several. Most remarkable was the market reaction on the internet bubble collapsing, the impact of 911 on financial markets, financial crisis 2008 and the high growth of passive investments, the M&A and consolidation in the fund industry, the strong increase in technology, ecommerce and innovation stocks, sustainability becoming a standard and the increasing importance of impact investing.
5. Which aspects do you consider most important when selecting a fund for a portfolio taking in consideration sustainability?
It is all about a solid policy, process and tools. Asset managers integrating ESG and impact in a holistic way of work and focus have a preference and the ones investing continuously in new research in this area to improve measurement and reporting.
6. Do you try to apply sustainability to other aspects of your life?
Certainly, I lead by example and of course practise what you preach. I’m active as an Sustainable strategist and consultant for VBDO a Dutch organisation engaging with companies to improve their business model and governance. We discuss their policy in the whoel chain about, living wages their board compensation but diversity and inclusion and how they deal with biodiversity are interesting topics to discuss. And we use the voting power to shareholder resolutions on the agenda of the board. But I also try to reduce my own carbon footprint. I am vegetarian for more than 25 years and live in a sustainable way. Prefer brands which use sustainable materials or have a circulair business model. And I board member of non profit organisation promoting inclusion and diversity in the Dutch cultural sector. And I give back to the society by being an ambassadeur of the Rabobank Foundation. Which helps and sponsors all kinds of small local sustainable initiateves. And I engage with funds I invest in to discuss sustainable topics like the diversity of their investment teams. Studies have showed that more diverse teams have better risk return profiles.
7. Would you give any advice for anyone wanting to start a career in the asset management industry?
The stock market is not a casino, build solid portfolios with long term investments and funds with a focus on sustainability and innovation. Building high quality sustainable investment porfolios and wealth is not a sprint it is a marathon and demands a lot of work and research. I meet with a lot of highly skilled investment managers and ESG-leaders only the ones who are continuously involved with their work, have a true passion for investments and consider the global trends in the markets that shift companies and industries, are leading and performing better than their peers. So you must be willing to work hard, do self reflection and learn continuously.