June’s top 10 performing sustainable investment funds

Written by Rebecca Jones on 2nd Jul 2019

In our series produced in collaboration with 3d Investing, we take a regular monthly look at the top performing funds in the sustainable investment universe, tracking trends and trendsetters in one of the fastest growing areas of global finance today.

Our universe consists of funds rated three stars and above by 3d Investing, which has rigorously screened thousands of funds available to UK investors to come up with just 210 that meet this standard. We sort this list by the top performers of the month and then again by three years, giving a comprehensive overview.

 

June saw specialist funds focussed on key environmental issues do well, particularly those investing in clean and sustainable water and timber, as well as clean technology and transport. The latter category produced our best performer: RobecoSAM Smart Mobility, which returned 11.6 per cent last month.

Launched in July last year, RobecoSAM Smart Mobility invests worldwide in companies that provide technology, products and services for sectors including public transport and infrastructure and autonomous vehicles. Over the past six months it has returned 17 per cent.

Pictet Timber was our second best performing fund over the month, which invests in forestry as well as “across the entire forest value chain” which includes consumer companies such as Kimberly-Clark, who manufactures products made out of wood fibre such as tissues, paper towels, and other hygiene products.

It states that it does not invest in “ecologically sensitive areas or countries where the integrity of the forest is not guaranteed.”

Read our recent review on investing in forestry, here

Water water everywhere

Water was also a strong theme across the month, with two funds that invest in companies woking towards ensuring and improving global water supply featuring in our top 10. Parvest Aqua was our top performer in this category, returning 7.6 per cent in June, while RobecoSAM saw another of its funds enter the league table: RobecoSAM Sustainable Water, with 7.3 per cent.

Environmental specialist investor Impax also saw two funds make the top ten: the Impax Environmental Leaders and the Impax Environmental Markets Trust – each returning 7.3 per cent. Both funds invest broadly in companies involved in a number of global sustainable sectors, from renewable energy to energy efficiency and waste and water management.

Commenting on the results, John Fleetwood, founder of 3d Investing, says: “The one month numbers will always favour more volatile funds as its such a short time period. Most of these funds are focussed on specific sectors and will go up and down more than more diverse funds. There’s a clear environmental theme to these funds.”

Top performing 3d 3 star rated funds one month to 30 June 2019

Fund

Total % return 1m

Rank in sector Total % return 1yr Rank in sector Total % return 3yr Rank in sector
1 RobecoSAM Smart Mobility 11.6 1 / 54 n/a n/a n/a n/a
2 Pictet Timber 8.5 136 / 586 -15.7 468 / 576 24.5 84 / 520
3 Vontobel Clean Technology 7.9 3 / 253 9.3 81 / 193 n/a n/a
4 Parvest Aqua 7.6 3 / 115 11.6 29 / 95 39.7 41 / 72
5 Parvest Global Environment 7.4 5 / 115 12.5 21 / 95 45.6 30 / 72
6 Impax Environmental Leaders 7.3 6 / 115 12.1 25 / 95 46.9 23 / 72
7 Impax Environmental Markets Trust 7.3 1 / 3 16.9 2 / 3 72.1 1 / 3
8 RobecoSAM Sustainable Water 7.3 35 / 92 14.0 10 / 87 40.6 6 / 84
9 Hermes Impact Opportunities Equity 7.3 8 / 115 15.5 9 / 95 n/a n/a
10 Standard Life Investments European Ethical Equity 7.2 18 / 107 3.4 51 / 102 42.5 28 / 92

Performance data sourced from FE Analytics and is to 30 June 2019.

 

Over three years, our long term performers remain largely unchanged from May – demonstrating the strength of the fund managers over longer periods – for which we should only ever be investing! Returning to the top ten in first place after a brief hiatus from the leaderboard in May is 3i Infrastructure, which has returned 77 per cent in the 3 years to 30 June.

Launched in 2007, the £2.4 billion-large trust is one of the most established infrastructure investment funds in the UK and is a consistent top performer. Over 10 years, for example, shareholders have seen a 385 per cent return on their investment.

Its success means 3i is pretty expensive to buy now, though, with shares currently trading at a price that is nearly 30 per cent higher that the value of the trust’s actual assets.

The Impax Environmental Markets trust also features in our top ten over three years thanks to its strong long-term record, as does the Bluefield Solar Income Trust, returning 72.1 per cent and 64.9 per cent since June 2016 respectively.

Going for global

The Liontrust Sustainable Future investment team also saw three of their funds make the three year top ten: Liontrust Sustainable Future Global Growth, Liontrust Sustainable Future Absolue Growth and Liontrust UK Ethical. This is the fourth consecutive month the team has had more than one fund in the top ten over three years.

Liontrust Sustainable Future Absolute Growth is a particularly strong performer. Managed by Simon Clements, who invests in sustainable companies all over the world including the US and Japan, the fund ranks in the top three of more than 200 funds in its sector over one and three years. These include funds that invest in mainstream markets full of oil and gas, arms, tobacco and mining – showing how doing Good really can pay off in the long term.

Four other global funds also made the top ten in June: Schroder ISF Global Sustainable Growth, BMO Responsible Global Equity, Janus Henderson Global Sustainable Equity and Kames Global Sustainable Equity, all of which returned more than 56 per cent in the three years to 30 June – and as much as 62.7 per cent.

Fleetwood adds: “On the 3 year numbers, Liontrust clearly stands out. To have three funds from different sectors in the top ten is outstanding, demonstrating good management across the board. The top ten are largely global equity funds, with clear sustainability themes.”

Top performing 3d 3 star rated funds three years to 30 June 2019

Fund Total % return 1m Rank in sector Total % return 1yr Rank in sector

Total % return 3yr

Rank in sector
1 3I Infrastructure Trust 4.5 1 / 6 37.4 1 / 6 77.0 1 / 6
2 Impax Environmental Markets Trust 7.3 1 / 3 16.9 2 / 3 72.1 1 / 3
3 Liontrust Sustainable Future Global Growth 3.5 224 / 285 16.8 14 / 265 65.2 9 / 226
4 Bluefield Solar Income Trust 5.4 2 / 11 19.9 3 / 8 64.9 1 / 6
5 Schroder ISF Global Sustainable Growth 5.1 72 / 115 17.1 2 / 95 62.7 2 / 72
6 BMO Responsible Global Equity 5.8 27 / 285 13.0 29 / 265 60.3 15 / 226
7 Janus Henderson Global Sustainable Equity 5.1 85 / 285 10.7 49 / 265 58.6 18 / 226
8 Liontrust Sustainable Future Absolute Growth 3.0 132 / 280 14.8 2 / 259 58.3 3 / 212
9 Liontrust UK Ethical 2.6 173 / 280 7.1 9 / 273 58.0 10 / 255
10 Kames Global Sustainable Equity 4.0 213 / 253 11.3 44 / 193 56.2 9 / 144

Performance data sourced from FE Analytics and is to 30 June 2019.

 

For the full list of 3d 3star rated funds see the latest Good With Money and 3d Investing Good Investment Review – your guide to the brightest and best sustainable funds on the market

To invest in any of these funds see our guide to the Top 10 Sustainable Investment Platforms, or speak to your financial adviser or wealth manager.

Risk warning: Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of investments and the income derived from them may go down as well as up, so you could get back less than you originally invested. This is more likely if you sell out in a down market. Remember, investing is for the long-term.

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