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Gaining a foothold in ESG: A Q&A with Moral Money reporter Billy Nauman

Launched in June, Moral Money is the trusted destination for news and analysis about the fast-expanding world of socially responsible business, sustainable finance, impact investing, environmental, social and governance (ESG) trends, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Billy Nauman is a reporter and producer for Moral Money, and he sat down with us to discuss the successes of the newsletter so far, after its roll-out earlier this year.

What inspired the creation of Moral Money?

It was very much Gillian Tett’s idea. She is very well-connected, and knew there was a gap for this in the market. There has been a shifting tone in the business world around sustainability and socially-responsible business with a huge focus on Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) investing. 

Most of the content you will read on sustainable business, ESG, and investing green are all written for people immersed in the topic. What we do is we include a financial markets perspective looking at how this will affect business and money. This is why we are unique. 

What is Moral Money offering readers that they can’t get elsewhere?

We’re in a market where there are similar iterations, such as one from Bloomberg. Where we stand out is we have unique insights; we are looking forward. We show people what’s coming, and what trends to expect combined with our analysis. We offer a global perspective, are business-orientated, and include a money angle that makes us different from the others. 

Moral Money stands out as it can be a standalone piece of content; from reading Moral Money you can get everything you need to know for the week on ESG, first thing in the morning, straight to your inbox. It’s all encompassing content.

Billy NaumanReporter and producer for Moral Money

How do you think asset managers can benefit from regularly reading Moral Money?

ESG is very topical in the sustainability space, as it is an area that lots of asset managers are not doing, or not doing well. Moral Money will inform asset managers on what investors are interested in the world of ESG and investing in. This is gold dust to them. What we are covering is news that matters to them. 

There is so much content in Moral Money that they need and is integral to the way their industry is headed and it helps them stand out in their profession. Moral Money will ensure that they have their fingers on the pulse on all things ESG, as well as the fact that we have insights from everyone in the industry. 

This is definitely a vital read for them, for sure! It will help them stay up to date on what is happening immediately and what’s coming up in the world. ESG is a huge opportunity spot for asset managers. If can you differentiate yourself that you know what you’re doing in this topic… that is number one. 

The Moral Money newsletter is translated into Japanese. How do the Moral Money writers function as a team to connect insights from across the globe?

ESG is a huge industry in Japan, and they are trying to lead in this topic ahead of the Olympics in Tokyo 2020. Also, in Japan government industries have mandated that companies start acting compliant across ESG, and Moral Money helps to educate on the industry. The demand is there, and the news we provide is vital, so we’ve targeted Japan for our newsletter translation. 


We have writers that we are leveraging across the global space, and particularly the resources available from Nikkei are key. Tamami Shimizuishi works with us twice a week at the minute! She will bring insight from what is published in the Japanese press, news that has and hasn’t been translated and might have been missed by us. 

We really lean heavily on all the FT global resources to bring perspective to everything we are covering. For example, Mercedes Ruehl from Tech Scroll Asia is someone we will consult to collaborate and integrate thoughts and insights she has. We really want to ensure the newsletter is not US/UK biased or focused, so this global insight has been hugely valuable.

In your opinion, why is it valuable for teams (not just individual decision-makers) to have access to Moral Money?

Moral Money isn’t just for senior employees. It’s important to all seniority levels. For junior people especially, this is where they should be focused, and be especially interested in, as this is the future of asset management. This is where the industry is going and ESG is not going away. It is becoming increasingly important and topical. I do recommend that it becomes integrated in its entirety in teams’ day-to-day processes, rather than being an externality. 

Moral Money is at the core of asset management business’ for all members of a team - whether it be from stock picking, to how they conduct internally, it will be at the core.

Billy NaumanReporter and producer for Moral Money

What can we look forward to as top new trends for asset managers to look out for?

Number one, first and foremost, is ESG trends, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Asset managers and consultants will be asking questions around these, and whether they should be complying or considering those trends in their business. 

For instance, one example where it matters is with millennials or younger people with more money. This is a top issue for them, as they only want to work with an asset manager that can prioritise these sustainability-focused goals, rather than being focused on making the most money. As a result, products are being made especially for this market and cohort.

John Hancock has also launched COIN, a value based investment platform, so the customer can put in their values important to them, such as clean water, deforestation and women’s rights. After this, they can then run that as a filter, and you can select your portfolio to be focused on these goals, budgeting anywhere from $50 upwards.

This has become the forefront and a big selling point for asset managers, with some integrating this into their core process (for example, when AllianceBernstein ensured their portfolio managers took a course on climate change). Asset manager firms are being graded on whether or not they are incorporating this, and these trends are where the market is growing and heading. Moral Money will be on the pulse of this.  

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