A fund manager of the Mainz investment company Wiwin criticizes the market for sustainable financial products. Most green products only had a low sustainability rate. He wants to do better.

Gunter Greiner reveals how a dark green fund should be set up.

GUnder Greiner, fund manager at the Mainz investment company Wiwin, has been managing sustainable funds for more than 10 years – in other words, investments that should be particularly environmentally friendly and social. Sustainability preoccupied him long before it became a major issue in the financial markets. His criticism of the industry can therefore be taken seriously: “Almost all of the supposedly sustainable funds of large fund companies are sham,” says Greiner in an interview with the FAZ. The green products of large providers often do not exceed an ESG share of 20 percent.

The acronym ESG stands for environmental protection, social compatibility and good corporate governance. With a new product of its own, fund manager Greiner wants to offer a far better sustainability rate of 95 percent. If everything goes smoothly from a regulatory perspective, Wiwin wants to go on the market in April.

The sample portfolio contains well-known and obvious companies such as the electric car pioneer Tesla, the wind turbine manufacturers Vestas, Siemens Gamesa and Nordex or the solar companies First Solar and SMA. But this also includes companies that are not the usual suspects when it comes to sustainability, such as the environmental bank, the microfinance company Procredit, the deposit machine manufacturer Tomra or Shimano, the Japanese specialist in gear shifts and brakes for bicycles and e-bikes.

“Hair-raising reasons”

Greiner wants to specifically select the stocks that match its fund and is not afraid to criticize the competition: “You often hear hair-raising reasons why a company should supposedly be particularly sustainable,” says Greiner. A Scandinavian bank has classified the software manufacturer Autodesk as green because architects, for example, could use its programs to design sustainable houses more efficiently. But that doesn’t make Autodesk an environmentally friendly company.

The sports and fashion group Adidas, for example, is considered sustainable by many, just because some of its shoes are made from recycled materials. In view of the large product range of the brand manufacturer, that hardly matters. Even the payment service provider Wirecard was strongly represented in the sustainability product of a large German fund company from Frankfurt, although the obviously poor management of the now insolvent scandal company should have been a knockout criterion at the latest.

Greiner also wants to take a closer look at its own portfolio. For example, the production of renewable energies is itself very energy-intensive. And dangerous chemicals are sometimes used in the manufacture of solar cells. The production conditions for employees in the Chinese solar industry, for example, have often been poor in the past. But the politicians have taken action there and a lot has improved, says Greiner.

The fund manager wants to measure his performance by how strongly his portfolio companies react to further political decisions. According to Greiner, a really dark green fund has to react noticeably when, for example, America’s president announces new details for his green deal. This does not always lead to profits, but also to losses in the event of setbacks in climate policy.