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UBS Senior VP Shares Expertise on Sustainable Investing

Wealth Management Roundtable - Matt Hansen, UBS

Matt Hansen, CFP,CEPA
Senior Vice President-Wealth Management
UBS Financial Services

Is sustainability a good investment in 2024? Why?
Sustainable investing is an important focus for some investors as they view this in three ways. A significant societal mind shift is driving change. The ongoing concern over climate change, catalyzing changes in corporate behavior, government spending and policy response. Economic recovery spending to support sustainable investments. The Inflation Reduction Act has spurred growth from many renewable energy companies looking to onshore as much technology in the EV battery, solar, wind production and start building domestically as a way to reduce our exposure to foreign political risks coming out of various countries around the world. Ever increasing focus on sustainability, renewable energy and those hoping to some day replace our crumbling grid. With technological advances, including AI, we as a country are using more and more technology and energy than ever before.

What are the hallmarks of a good sustainability investment?
A good sustainability investment should be able to measure their effect on whatever sector they are working with. As an example, a technology company whose software can help track the net energy savings for commercial office buildings, universities, multifamily and industrials. The goal being to not only lower costs but utilize less energy on a year over year basis. Another could be utilizing solar, or another source of alternative energy in order to power homes and businesses while feeding excess energy back to the grid in the hopes that the number of power outages can someday be reduced or eliminated. In addition, the idea of more and more data being used, more data storage facilities need proper cooling systems in place to keep up with the ever increasing need for energy.

What are the potential pitfalls of/barriers to ESG-sustainability investing?
There remain several concerns, including the use of child labor in foreign countries in mining precious metals. A similar concern is the trade of infrastructure promises for mineral rights in third world countries has been something investors have felt should benefit the citizens of that country instead of the larger well financed third party.

Which industries/market areas are investors looking at in sustainability?
Transition to a low carbon economy encompasses all the industries in the renewable energy and energy efficiency value chain. Many are technology-driven, seeking solutions that will disrupt the fossil fuel industry and enable a shift to a more efficient, less polluting, and less resource-intensive energy system. Waste management, including reducing plastic packaging volumes which are expected to more than quadruple by 2050. Innovative waste reduction solutions can also increase business financial returns. Shifting food consumption trends, such as alternative proteins snagging market share, and the modernization of the global food supply chain including cooling systems for food shipments in every country around the world can help reduce spoilage, world hunger and increase profitability of businesses looking to provide food and medical services all around the world including the US.

How does your firm serve values-based investors?
At UBS, investors increasingly seek more than just financial performance, and they have differing levels of intent and motivation with regard to understanding and managing the impact of their investments on society and the environment. For example, some investors aim to mitigate risks through avoidance of certain exposures, others aim for greater understanding of the positive or negative impact of their investments, and still others intentionally seek to drive positive change with their capital and active involvement. Sustainable investing offers a range of solutions that can enable investors to achieve many of these sustainability or impact objectives, as well as the opportunity to access greater transparency on investments through sustainability reporting. In our view, these benefits should be appealing both to sustainability-focused investors and to returns-focused investors.

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Matt Hansen, a local San Diegan, is a certified financial planner CFP and certified exit planning advisor CEPA helping business owners in every stage of their life cycle. He strives to provide resources and capital to help business owners grow, investment banking resources to help them sell, merge or go public, and personalized financial and wealth management advice along the way coupling their financial plan with their overall business plan to help maximize the value of their company and create a successful exit and liquidity event.

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