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ING to offer socially responsible asset allocation portfolios for retirement plan investors

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In an effort to provide customers with socially responsible investment options, ING’s US Retirement Services business announced today that it will be offering the ESG Managers Portfolios to participants in many ING-administered defined contribution retirement plans.

Launched in 2010 by Pax World Management LLC, and subadvised by Morningstar Associates, LLC, the ESG Managers Portfolios are a series of non-proprietary, multi-manager risk-based asset allocation funds that integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into their investment analysis and decision making.

Until now, the ESG Managers Portfolios have been available only through financial advisors.  ING is the first defined contribution provider to offer these funds to workplace retirement plan investors.  Initially, the portfolios will be available to plan sponsors and participants in ING’s education, government, healthcare and not-for-profit market segments.

"Our plan sponsors have told us they want more socially responsible investment choices for their employees. At the same time, there is a growing need for greater asset-allocation and risk diversification features," says Brian Comer, president of Public Markets for ING US Retirement Services. "Working with Pax and Morningstar to deliver this unique offering addresses both requirements.  We’re making it easier to select a socially responsible investment while providing a multi-managed, ‘fund-of-funds’ approach to help diversify risk."

The ESG Managers Portfolios represent a unique, one-stop solution for capturing returns from socially responsible investments. They consist of four funds that follow a sustainable approach: ESG Managers Aggressive Growth Portfolio, ESG Managers Growth Portfolio, ESG Managers Moderate Portfolio, and ESG Managers Conservative Portfolio.

Pax World serves as the investment advisor to ESG Managers Portfolios, while Morningstar Associates is charged with manager selection, asset allocation and portfolio construction and monitoring. Managers selected by Morningstar Associates to provide sub-advisory services include a dozen of the best-known names in the sustainable-investing industry.

"Today’s investor increasingly understands the connection between such things as good environmental management or good corporate governance, on the one hand, and long term financial health, on the other," says Pax World President and CEO Joe Keefe. "They want to invest in companies with sustainable business models and ESG Managers Portfolios were designed to give investors broad exposure to such companies.  ING has now brought these funds, and this concept, to the retirement market, where we think plan sponsors and participants will eagerly embrace these new investment choices."

"There’s growing awareness and usage of socially responsible investments. Since 2000, assets in socially responsible mutual funds have grown almost 150 percent, significantly outpacing overall mutual fund asset growth," says Peng Chen, president of Morningstar’s global investment management division.  "We’re pleased that ING is making these portfolios available on its defined contribution platform.  Now, retirement plan participants will be able to access diversified asset-allocation portfolios composed of many of the industry’s leading managers that incorporate ESG factors alongside fundamental financial factors in their security selection."

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