© Reuters. Ozeki, CIO of Nippon Life Insurance Co, Japan’s largest private insurance company, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Tokyo
By Hideyuki Sano and Tomo Uetake
TOKYO (Reuters) – Social transformations triggered by the coronavirus pandemic are making index-following, passive stock investments less attractive and could reverse a decline in active stock investments, the chief executive of Nissay Asset Management said.
Hiroshi Ozeki said a recovery to pre-pandemic levels will be difficult for some industries such as restaurants, airlines and train operators.
Energy-intensive sectors also would be pressured by the need to deal with climate change, he added.
“Even after the pandemic is over and even with some government help, they won’t return to where they were,” said the chief of the 13 trillion yen ($125 billion) asset management firm.
“Up until now, passive style has been a vogue – it’s been said to be the most efficient investment. But with that, you are automatically putting your money in those industries with no growth stories,” he said.
Assets held by exchange traded funds (ETFs), among the most convenient passive investments, have been increasing globally over the last decade.
In contrast, active funds, which try to aim for higher returns based on stock picking, have seen large outflows in recent years.
“In the coming few years, active investments are likely to outperform passive ones. The era of active investment may be back,” Ozeki said.
Companies which Nissay scores highly for Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) had done better this year, he said.
Enterprises poised to benefit from the shift to renewable energy would prosper after the United States and Japan join other countries in adopting ambitious targets to achieve carbon neutrality.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has committed to net zero emissions by 2050 and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in October set the same goal for Japan.
“Some companies that have committed to 100% renewable power targets, such as Sony (NYSE:) and Ricoh, are saying that Japan is now becoming the bottleneck among the developed world in achieving that goal,” he said, citing limited availability and high costs of renewable energy.
“So it means a lot that Suga has made that target. For investors, too, it reduces risk when the government clarifies its long-term goal,” Ozeki said.
Ozeki also said for next year he expected:
* Global share prices to rally further as the pandemic lasts longer than expected, forcing policymakers to continue to support the economy through monetary and fiscal measures.
* Short-term U.S. interest rates to stay low, making currency-hedged dollar bond investments attractive for Japanese investors.
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