In person, the chief executive of Arabesque Partners Omar Selim comes across as a soft-spoken man who looks like the quintessential banker in a suit.
But what he is doing with Arabesque is departing convention. The asset management firm is breaking new ground in the financial world with what it calls the “world’s first quantitative approach to sustainable investing”.
This means it has developed a systematic way to identify more than 1,000 superior stocks out of over 77,000 companies listed across the world using unique algorithms – in place of humans – based on the companies’ ESG performance.
ESG refers to environmental, social and corporate governance – also called ‘non-financial information’ – which is used by the finance community to measure the sustainability of a company. It looks at the firm’s impact on the environment and local communities and how it performs on issues such as labour rights.
Speaking to Eco-Business in a recent interview in Singapore, the Egypt-born banker – who was formerly Head of Global Markets for Europe at Barclays – says: “I’d like to think that in Asia, we’re the sushi of finance.”
“We’re tasty, healthy and transparent… This is a smarter way of analysing companies. We’re less risky because we have a better screening process,” explains Selim.