The $6 billion Local Government Super (LGS) has hired the former regional boss of sustainability researcher Innovest to assess and communicate environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks – and also to engage investee companies.

Newly appointed to LGS, Bill Hartnett, who led Innovest Strategic Value Advisors’ regional research and distribution efforts until the business was bought by RiskMetrics in late 2009, would be primarily charged with “helping us to monitor and mitigate ESG risks” in the fund’s investment portfolio to the LGS board and its external stakeholders, Craig Turnbull, CIO at the fund, said.

This would involve publicly discussing LGS’ various ESG programs, but also represent the fund in its sustainability initiatives – such as Regnan and the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors –and, if required, engage with funds managers and investee companies regarding ESG risks.

“In the past there has been limited liaison work with companies about ESG risks. Potentially with Bill’s effort we’ll be able to do that direct engagement with companies,” Turnbull said.

LGS bought research from Innovest during Hartnett’s tenure, and continued to use RiskMetrics Sustainability Solutions, Turnbull said. During this time, the fund knew Hartnett not as a pure researcher, but an “out-on-the-street guy” with a good grasp of “what the research is and what it was used for”.

It’s understood that Hartnett was made redundant following the RiskMetrics takeover and left soon afterwards, while two of the three research analysts he oversaw relocated to Melbourne to work more closely with the business’ new owner.

Meanwhile, Hannah Deukmejian was also appointed to LGS from the Commonwealth Bank as compliance risk manager. In an announcement, Peter Lambert, CEO at LGS, said the fund’s internal management team was now almost complete.

In a survey of super funds by The Climate Institute early this year, LGS was ranked the leading fund for managing investment risks caused by climate change.

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