Asset manager Impax is focusing on spotlighting its content rather than its products in its recent advertising campaign, explains Neville Vyas, Head of Marketing, Europe and APAC.
Impax is a specialist asset manager, aiming to offer superior risk-adjusted returns from investing in the transition to a sustainable economy. Its target audience includes classic institutional investors as well as discretionary fund managers (DFMs) and wealth managers.
The recent Impax Insights campaign, created in partnership with the agency Embrace, was aimed at UK DFMs. Rather than publicising particular products, it aimed to highlight the firm’s thought leadership.
The digital campaign focused on page takeovers and sequenced ads, particularly on fund information website Trustnet.
The decision to foreground content, Neville explains, is because it is fundamental to the firm’s overall strategy and establishing credibility with this key audience. The firm publishes regular insights on its website, while CEO Ian Simm also has his own personal blog called Notes on a Sustainable Economy.
Unusually, the campaign’s call to action aimed to bring people to Impax’s LinkedIn account. Neville views LinkedIn, where Impax has more than 16,000 followers, as a positive channel for the firm, although he notes that it can be hard to directly attribute results.
“Linking that ultimately to business is actually quite difficult and not something we’re too worried about.”
The external campaign has also been supplemented by the company’s technology strategy, which has seen recent deployments of Salesforce, Seismic and Marketo. Salesforce, in particular, has helped the firm to segment its audience when delivering content.
The next year will see Impax building campaigns around some of its new strategies, as well as expanding its presence in new markets such as Japan, Australia and Canada.
These will include strategies based around social leadership, fixed income and environmental markets .
How is Impax, an avowedly sustainability and impact-focused investment firm, dealing with the changing world of ESG? In the US, for example, firms are attracting criticism or even losing mandates for being seen as prioritising ESG concerns over returns.
Neville views ESG as a potentially “confusing and ambiguous term”.
“It’s used by different people in different ways,” he said, highlighting differences in how US and European investors use the term.
Noting that the term evolved after the scandals at Enron and WorldCom, Neville argues that it was never “really intended as an alternative framework for guiding the deployment of capital.”
He notes that Impax doesn’t define itself as an “ESG investor”, but instead integrates these environmental, social and governance factors into its investment process where it sees them as material.
Rather than a label, Neville says ESG is a “tool to help investment managers do a better job of evaluating companies and the opportunities and risks thereof and the sustainability challenges.” Bringing it into an investment process offers the potential to outperform peers who don’t do that.
Has the industry dug itself into a hole by allowing a perceived dichotomy between returns and sustainability?
Neville says “some parts of the industry” have done this.
“There’s no trade-off between returns and investing in the sustainable economy, quite the opposite.
“We’re looking for businesses that will thrive in that environment, but also frankly, putting aside businesses that just aren’t ready for that transition.
“There’s a risk in investing in businesses that aren’t ready or will not be able to cope with the transition to a more sustainable economy. So ESG and other factors and other kinds of risk controls that you might apply will help you manage that.”