Impax Asset Management is celebrating the 50th birthday of the Pax Sustainable Allocation Fund, a product that helped spawn the now burgeoning sustainable investment industry.

Launched in August 1971, it was the first publicly available mutual fund in the United States to use social and environmental as well as financial criteria in the investment process.

The fund’s founders, Luther Tyson and Jack Corbett, were United Methodist ministers who were opposed to the Vietnam War. They wanted to avoid investing their churches’ assets in companies involved in the war, so the Pax World Fund (later renamed) excluded companies that manufactured such products as Agent Orange, napalm and other weapons. Soon after launching the fund, Tyson and Corbett realized that, if they could screen out weapons, they could also screen out other things that they deemed inappropriate for church investments. They added tobacco companies, polluters and (as earnest Methodists) alcohol and gambling to the list of excluded companies.

This was an important step in the development of what is now called “sustainable” or “ESG” investing. However, the focus was more on what you didn’t invest in than what you did.

Our investment philosophy has evolved since launching the Pax Sustainable Allocation Fund 50 years ago. While Pax World Funds still exclude companies involved in the manufacture or sale of weapons, as well as tobacco companies and fossil fuel companies, today our investment focus is squarely on the risks and opportunities arising from the transition to a more sustainable global economy. We believe that capital markets will be shaped profoundly by global sustainability challenges, particularly climate change, environmental pollution, natural resource constraints and demographic and human capital issues such as diversity, inclusion and equality. Our view is that these trends will drive growth for well positioned companies and create risks for those unable or unwilling to adapt.

We integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria into our investment portfolios based on the now firmly established premise that such factors can be material to how companies and investment portfolios behave, particularly when it comes to risk1. We seek to invest in companies that are better prepared for the transition to a more sustainable economy and better at managing risk, including ESG-related risk.

We recently published an engagement report showcasing the results of our global engagement activities over the past year. We held 300 meetings with companies and achieved some notable milestones, including persuading a Chinese water infrastructure and technology provider to be more aware of its physical risks emanating from climate change, and encouraging an energy efficiency company to embrace a more diverse workplace by welcoming two female directors to its board. The global pandemic and social unrest changed the way we engaged in 2020 and the report details those changes, as well.

It is gratifying to be part of the company that helped spark an entire industry some five decades ago. We continue to have a sense of urgency about addressing global sustainability challenges and we continue to be vigilant stewards on behalf of our clients and shareholders. But there are also grounds to pause, reflect and celebrate as we mark the 50th anniversary of the Pax Sustainable Allocation Fund.

1 Julie Gorte, “The Investment Case for Sustainability: The Rise of Resilience,” Impax Asset Management, July 29, 2020.

This document is being provided for informational purposes only. No offer of sale of a fund or other security is being made. The Pax Sustainable Allocation Fund is managed by Impax Asset Management LLC, an affiliate of Impax Asset Management Limited, Impax Asset Management (AIFM) Limited and Impax Asset Management (Ireland) Limited.

The information contained in this document (the “Paper”) has been prepared and issued by and is the sole responsibility of the Impax Asset Management Group plc, whose shares are quoted on AIM. Impax Asset Management Group plc is registered in England & Wales, number 03262305. Impax Asset Management Group plc is the parent company of [Impax Asset Management Limited and Impax Asset Management (AIFM) Limited (together “Impax”, and each of which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority)] OR [Impax Asset Management (Ireland) Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland (Reference No: C186651].

The Paper is being supplied to you for information purposes only. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author of this Paper, and may not be relied on by any person. The information and any opinions contained in the Paper have been compiled in good faith, but no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made to their accuracy, completeness or correctness. Impax, its officers, employees, representatives and agents expressly advise that they shall not be liable in any respect whatsoever for any loss or damage, whether direct, indirect, consequential or otherwise however arising (whether in negligence or otherwise) out of or in connection with the contents of or any omissions from the Paper.

The Paper does not constitute an offer to sell, purchase, subscribe for or otherwise invest in units or shares of any fund managed by Impax. The Paper may not be relied upon as constituting any form of investment advice and prospective investors are advised to ensure that they obtain appropriate independent professional advice before making any investment in any such fund. Any offering is made only pursuant to the relevant offering document and the relevant subscription application, all of which must be read in their entirety. Prospective investors should review the offering memorandum, including the risk factors in the offering memorandum, before making a decision to invest. This Paper is in no way indicative of how the strategy or any fund will perform, and is not intended as a statement as to the likelihood of Impax achieving particular results in the future. Past performance of a fund or strategy is no guarantee as to its performance in the future. The Paper is not an advertisement and is not intended for public use or distribution.

The Paper is only being made available to and is only directed at persons in the UK and member states of the European Economic Area (the “EEA”) who are professionals, defined as Eligible Counterparties, or Professional Clients, as defined by the applicable jurisdiction. Under no circumstances should any information contained in this Paper be regarded as an offer or solicitation to deal in investments in any jurisdiction.

Joseph Keefe

Former President, North America

Joe Keefe held the role of President and CEO of Pax World Management starting in 2005, and continued serving as President of Impax Asset Management, North America, from the firm’s acquisition in 2018 through his retirement in 2024. Joe is a recognized leader in the sustainable investing industry in the US, acknowledged for his work promoting sustainable investing and ESG analysis, and especially for his advocacy supporting and enabling gender lens investing. Though his leadership, Joe exemplified the culture and values of Impax.

Prior to joining the firm, Joe was President of NewCircle Communications, a strategic consulting and communications firm specializing in corporate social responsibility and public policy communications. He served as Senior Advisor for Strategic Social Policy at Calvert Group from 2003-2005 and as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Citizens Advisers from 1997-2000. He is a former member of the Board of Directors (2000-2006) of US SIF, the trade association representing asset managers and investors engaged in sustainable investing throughout the United States. Joe co-founded the Thirty Percent Coalition and is former co-chair of the leadership group for the Women’s Empowerment Principles, a joint program of the United Nations Global Compact and UN Women. Before entering the investment management industry, Joe worked in private law practice for 16 years.

Joe holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the College of the Holy Cross.

Recent Insights

Additional Insights

Scroll to top
To get started, please select your location and investor type below.

If you are invested in Impax Funds – regardless of share class (Investor, Institutional, or Class A) or account type (individual, business or other entity) please select Impax Funds Investor as your Investor Type.

Access Impax Asset Management Limited’s Form CRS here.

Important Information

I confirm that I am an [investor_type] based in [investor_country] and that I have read and understood the important information, privacy policy and terms and conditions which govern the use of this website.

Risk Warning

Capital at risk. The value of investments may go up or down and is not guaranteed.