Agathe Foussard is a portfolio manager at Mirova, an affiliate of Natixis Investment Managers that is dedicated to sustainable investing. She’s been with the Natixis group since 2006, working initially as a fixed income financial engineer, then moving to Ostrum Asset Management in 2016 to manage aggregate portfolios. Agathe joined Mirova in 2020 as a co-portfolio manager on the Mirova Global Green Bond fund.
Agathe Foussard

Agathe Foussard

Portfolio Manager
For me, the case for ESG has always been obvious. It is just essential, and it’s evident that financial flows must be redirected towards energy transition projects that are profitable and have a strong sustainable impact.

When did you begin your career in sustainable investing?
I began my career as a financial engineer in the fixed income department of what was then called Natixis Asset Management in 2006. Over the next decade, I worked with the fixed income managers to help them decide what to measure, how to monitor their risks and measure performance overall.

And I was already interested in the idea that by adding ESG criteria to a portfolio, we could enhance the risk management and performance and really have a material impact. I was also seeing more and more clients becoming increasingly interested at that time in integrating these factors into their portfolio.

It was around this time that I met Bertrand [Bertrand Rocher, portfolio manager and senior credit analyst at Mirova]. We were part of the same working group that was set up to try and help credit analysts select an ESG data provider and decide how to integrate ESG, specifically environmental factors, in their credit analysis. It was just at the beginning of the whole ESG conversation, but it sparked my interest in the possibilities of sustainable investing as a trend.

By the time I joined Ostrum Asset Management in 2016, I’d begun to actually manage portfolios with ESG criteria front of mind. We had some of the first investors in green bonds during that period. I was now convinced about the power of sustainable investing, not least because of the sheer volume of investments being directed towards it.

So it was clear that this was the direction in which my career needed to go. And when I joined Mirova in January 2020, it just felt like a natural progression.

How does sustainability continue to motivate you?
It’s still just a really interesting trend to be a part of, and to engage with. I’ve been co-managing the Mirova Global Green Bond fund since I joined Mirova, but I also manage some of the other portfolios with a high proportion of green bonds and always a 100% invested in sustainable issuers.

For me, the case for ESG has always been obvious. It is just essential, and it’s evident that financial flows must be redirected towards energy transition projects that are profitable and have a strong sustainable impact. There will be winners and losers in the environmental transition and we need to invest in those companies and projects that can adapt their business models to live in a low carbon world.

We also have more and more people bought into that idea now, so it takes less convincing that it used to ten years ago. That’s really exciting and encouraging.

Moreover, when you invest in green bonds, there’s a high level of transparency. So the conversation has moved from convincing people of the merits of ESG criteria to validating how genuinely green the investments are. It’s about helping investors to understand the difference between what is really green what is considered as greenwashing.

Green bonds provide that extra transparency for investors. We can analyse before investing which kind of projects are in the programme, and after investing, thanks to the annual report, we know exactly what have been effectively financed.

What makes Mirova different from other sustainable investors?
We recently celebrated our ten-year anniversary. So we’ve been investing in sustainability for a long time while supporting the expansion of this market. And it’s enabled us to build a large, experienced team of analysts dedicated to ESG investments.

We’ve been analysing green bonds since 2012 – indeed, Mirova was one of the first asset managers to invest in green and sustainable bonds. We’ve lived through many of the challenges faced in all the different sectors. We have specialists that know exactly what we want to finance for each sector, and which ones we want to avoid.

And crucially, we can demonstrate integrity and transparency for investors who are worried about greenwashing. That, I think, is one of the key questions that investors want clarity on today.
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