French asset management has come out on top of MainStreet Partners' 2021 ESG Champions, with both the best asset manager and best boutique awards going to French houses.

BNP Paribas Asset Management has been named best asset manager in the inaugural ESG Champions awards from London-based ESG advisory and portfolio analytics firms MainStreet Partners, which gave the best boutique award to Sycomore Asset Management.

BNP Paribas AM was also awarded the best social thematic fund prize for its Smart Food fund, making it the only fund house to earn two ESG Champions titles.

European firms dominated the awards, with NN Investment Partners, Pictet and Mirova claiming prizes, among other continental houses.

The winners were selected from 350 funds across more than 60 asset managers rated by MainStreet Partners, and all scored at least 4.0 out of 5.0 on the ESG Rating provided by the analytics firm, with two funds - Federated Hermes Impact Opportunities Equity and NN Green Bond - achieving the highest possible score.

Neill Blanks, research director at MainStreet Partners, said: "[Our] holistic methodology was created to help investors identify real sustainable investments across asset classes and to avoid greenwashing.

"Given the development and increasing depth of ESG fund offerings we have named nine broad categories across equities, fixed income, multi-asset and thematic investing together with the best overall asset manager as well as the best boutique.

"The new EU regulation requires the identification and disclosure of sustainability risks which, in our opinion, are beyond the simple average rating of portfolio holdings because they involve the asset manager's approach to sustainability, its commitment, its disclosures, how sustainability principles are incorporated in the investment process and how those may affect financial results.

"These aspects are crucially influenced by the actions, policies and procedures that the asset managers have to put in place to make informed decisions and construct portfolios. Furthermore, when looking at the portfolio, controversies also need to be taken into consideration since company ratings often do not incorporate them in a timely manner."

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MainStreet Partners' winners in full:

Best Global Equity Fund              

Candriam Sustainable Equity World

Best European Equity Fund        

Echiquier Major SRI Growth Europe

Best Global Fixed Income Fund

RobecoSAM Global SDG Credits

Best European Fixed Income Fund          

DNCA Invest Beyond European Bond Opportunities

Best Green Bond Fund 

NN Green Bond

Best Multi-Asset Fund  

Mirova Europe Sustainable Economy

Best Multi-Thematic Fund          

Federated Hermes Impact Opportunities Equity

Best Environmental Thematic Fund        

Pictet Clean Energy

Best Social Thematic Fund          

BNP Smart Food

Best Asset Manager       

BNP Paribas AM

Best Boutique  

Sycomore AM

(First published by our sister title Investment Week)