The landscape of environmental, social and governance (ESG) exchange traded funds continues growing in terms of population. These days, there are about 90 such funds or those with the “socially responsible” designation available on U.S. exchanges.
More importantly, data suggest investors, particularly younger generations, are embracing ESG funds. Currently, six U.S.-listed ESG ETFs have more than $1 billion in assets under management and some of those are funds that came to market just this year.
With this fund category expanding at such rapid rate, investors evaluating ESG funds should consider exactly what they're looking at and what their objectives. Some funds in this category are specifically dedicated to clean energy themes while others are backed by religious values while others take broader approaches.
Let's have a look at three under-the-radar ESG funds here.
Xtrackers SP 500 ESG ETF (SNPE)
The Xtrackers SP 500 ESG ETF SNPE is the only U.S.-listed ESG ETF that tracks the S&P 500 ESG Index, the ESG offshoot of the famous S&P 500. SNPE is also a stabelmate of the Xtrackers MSCI USA ESG Leaders Equity ETF USSG, which debuted earlier this year and is already one of the six ESG ETFs with over $1 billion in assets.
Don't sleep on SNPE, though. That fund is just a few months old and is already closing in on $100 million in assets. Importantly, there are some perks for long-term investors that come along with SNPE's underlying index.
“The annualized volatility of the S&P 500 ESG Index was slightly lower than the S&P 500, at 14.63% and 14.86%, respectively. The annualized return was 0.02% higher for the S&P 500 ESG Index than the S&P 500,” according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.
Inspire Global Hope ETF (BLES)
With nearly $151 million in assets under management, the Inspire Global Hope ETF BLES is the second-largest ETF backed by religious investing principles.
BLES tracks Inspire Global Hope Large Cap Index, which is comprised of emerging and developed market large-cap stocks taken from the Russell 1000 Index, MSCI EAFE Index and MSCI Emerging Markets Index,
Adding U.S. stocks to the mix helps as highlighted by BLES year-to-date return of almost 18%. That's better than either the MSCI EAFE Index or the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.
VanEck Vectors Green Bond ETF (GRNB)
The original ETF dedicated to green bonds, or debt issued to finance environmentally friendly projects, the VanEck Vectors Green Bond ETF GRNB is at the forefront of an epic growth trend in the fixed income universe.
The fund, which holds 115 bonds, follows the S&P Green Bond Select Index, which is “comprised of labeled green bonds that are issued to finance environmentally friendly projects, and includes bonds issued by the supranational, government, and corporate issuers globally in multiple currencies,” according to VanEck.
Data confirm the green bond market is booming.
“The Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) published an update yesterday detailing how green bond and loan issuance for 2019 has just passed $200bn, marking an all-time high for the market and setting the stage for annual issuance reaching between $230 and $250bn by year end,” reports Green Business.
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