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Rating:An ESG Guru Builds a Putnam Team Not Rated 0.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Wednesday, May 3, 2017

An ESG Guru Builds a Putnam Team

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

An ESG investing veteran is leading a new charge at Putnam [profile].

Katherine Collins
Putnam Investments
Head of Sustainable Investing
Katherine Collins confirms that on Monday she joined the Boston-based mutual fund company in the newly created role of head of sustainable investing. Collins now reports to equity chief investment officer Aaron Cooper and leads a team that also includes Putnam veteran Alexander Rickson and new hire Stephanie Henderson. Watch for Collins, Henderson, and Rickson to both team up with Putnam's PMs on existing portfolios and potentially create ESG products, too. And watch for Cooper's team to prep more high conviction, concentrated equities strategies, too.

Collins spent most of the last decade leading her own ESG research firm, Honeybee Capital, after spending about 17 years at Fidelity (where she first worked alongside Cooper). And Henderson most recently worked at Fidelity.

"The non-investment parts of Honeybee will continue," Collins tells MFWire. "All of our investment work is coming with me to Putnam."

"ESG is another of the real strategic initiatives here at Putnam," Cooper tells MFWire. "It's something that we've been building to over the years ... We wanted to have a dedicated ESG team."

Being able to hire Collins, Cooper says, was a "catalyst for [Putnam] to build out a dedicated team." He sees "clear signs of demand [for ESG strategies], from institutions and on the retail side as well" and "a real underlying passion" for ESG solutions. And he sees investing opportunities, too.

"Externally, the data has been increasingly supportive that you can invest using ESG as one of the tools in the toolkit without sacrificing returns," Cooper says. "There does appear to be this demand for product, especially in the active space ... We expect to have more to say here on the product side as well."

Collins, for her part, sees big potential for adding an ESG effort to Putnam, "within a culture and team where there's already deep fundamental research experience and expertise ... a place with a strong history of active management." Collins and her team will be "part of the main investing team" for equities, "one of the key selling points" for her joining.

"This is a pretty unusual approach," Collins says.

Collins' team, Cooper says, brings both ESG focus and investing street cred.

"They are credible when they walk into any portfolio manager or analyst's office," Cooper says. "They speak the same language, because they're investors first. The richness of the dialogue will be much much better."

"We expect the portfolios to incorporate ESG as more of a clear input and tool," Cooper adds.

The ESG moves come about six months after Cooper rose to CIO of equities and about two months after he shook up Putnam's small cap equity efforts.

Collins, a former Fido PM and alumna of Wellesley, also has a master's degree in theology from Harvard.

Henderson, a fundamental equity analyst who first joined Fido in 2011, is an alumna of Middlebury.

London-based Rickson, a quantitative analyst with Putnam, first joined the firm in 2002 after working with SSgA. He is an alumnus of the University of Sheffield. 

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