Zenith appoints new head of responsible investment

Dugald Higgins
Zenith Investment Partners Pty Limited - Head of Responsible Investment and Real Assets
Date: 28 September 2021
Position: Head of Responsible Investment and Real Assets
By Elizabeth Fry

Zenith Investment Partners has promoted Dugald Higgins to head of responsible investment and real assets in response to client demands for deeper ESG insights to help them navigate risks and opportunities.

A key part of his new role will be working with adviser clients to foster understanding around RI challenges and opportunities, strategies and best practice, and how they can engage constructively with their clients on ESG and responsible investing.

Higgins  - who has been with Zenith for twelve years - was previously the firm's head of real assets and listed strategies. In that role, he was responsible for leading Zenith's research on a wide range of asset classes with a strong focus on ESG.

He will continue to report to the firm's general manager and head of research, Bronwen Moncrieff.
AMoncrieff said Higgins had been instrumental in driving the investment manager's work responsible investment through his responsibilities as chair of Zenith's Responsible Investment Committee.

"Higgins' involvement in sustainability issues in investment research date back to 2002 and going forward he will be tasked with continuing to drive our RI capabilities across the group," she added.

Moncrieff went on to say that having a dedicated resource to give ESG the focus it needs would result in the broader Group - which includes Chant West -  having a stronger capability and consistent group approach to responsible investing.

"Zenith believes responsible investment issues should be fully incorporated into the broader fund analysis process and Dugald's strong research background will bring a unique perspective on how this needs to work to optimise outcomes for investors," she said.

"Investor interest, client feedback, manager activity, and general market momentum is growing significantly in the area of responsible investing, and we are committed to it as both a service provider in our industry and as a business in our community.

"We believe responsible investment and incorporation of ESG is crucial in promoting a stable economy, and investors should be provided with investment choices that have measurable impacts as well as financial returns."

Back in August, Zenith completed the full rollout of its responsible investment classifications across 878 funds on its approved product list.

The classifications comprise traditional, aware, integrated, thematic, and impact, with each category designating the extent of each fund's incorporation of RI factors.

Zenith said the classification rollout provides financial advisers with an additional tool to differentiate between funds, and identify those best suited to clients seeking to add ESG sensitivity to their portfolios.