Introducing the WisdomTree ESG Model Portfolios

Chief Investment Officer – Model Portfolios

This article is relevant to financial professionals who are considering offering model portfolios to their clients. If you are an individual investor interested in WisdomTree ETF Model Portfolios, please inquire with your financial professional. Not all financial professionals have access to these Model Portfolios.

Last year, WisdomTree launched our Disruptive Growth Model, aimed at advisors and end clients looking to potentially capitalize on megatrend, or thematic, investing. The idea was to put together a diversified portfolio of high-growth thematic sectors and industries that could potentially realize ultra-high growth as disruptive technologies evolved. This was the first of our thematic Model Portfolios.

We are happy now to introduce our new ESG (environmental, social and governance)1 Model Portfolios—our first Models with explicit and specific ESG objectives.

There is no question that advisor and investor demand for ESG solutions in the ETF space is growing rapidly.


Figure 1_ESG ETF AUM and Flows

While demand clearly is growing, the challenge is to build differentiated models that (a) hold their own from a risk-adjusted performance perspective, (b) are not just “run of the mill” with respect to their ESG objectives and (c) are—like all WisdomTree Models—diversified at both the asset class and risk factor levels. 

So, we set five standards for our asset allocation and portfolio construction decisions:

  1. The Models, like all WisdomTree Models, are “open architecture,” that is, include both WisdomTree and third-party strategies. Further, they are ETF-centric, to optimize cost and tax efficiency.
  2. We include multiple rating/ranking approaches to evaluate ESG adherence. 
  3. Further, while there will always be a certain amount of exclusion associated with ESG (that is, taking things out of a portfolio that are viewed to be bad or harmful), we want to make sure we take an inclusionary approach as well—allocating to things that are positive or impactful.
  4. While we always seek for our portfolios to be diversified at the asset class and risk factor levels, we want these portfolios to be diversified at the ESG theme level as well.
  5. Our investment objectives for these portfolios are not simply to be “hygienic” from an ESG perspective, but to achieve maximum risk-adjusted long-term capital appreciation.

We believe we accomplished all our objectives with our new Models. Let’s dive in.

Our WisdomTree colleagues in London created a useful hierarchy for categorizing different thematic and disruptive trends, since many of them don’t fall naturally into traditional asset class or asset style boxes.

Figure 2_diversified thematics

If we use this hierarchy as a guide, our new ESG models are split roughly between the Demographic and Social Shift and Environmental Pressures families. Or, if you will, the ‘S’ and the ‘E’ of ESG.

Ultimately, we landed on three key pillars to focus on with respect to our security selection:

  1. Environmental
  2. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), with a focus on women
  3. Health and Wellness

In constructing these portfolios, we opted for a “core/satellite” approach. We built core equity positions that take fairly traditional broad-based screening approaches. We allocated to five strategies, three of which are WisdomTree solutions: RESP, our factor-based core U.S. large-cap ESG strategy; RESD, our factor-based core developed international ESG strategy; and XSOE, our emerging markets non-state-owned enterprises strategy.

The other two core strategies are third-party strategies, one that takes a more concentrated and growth-oriented large-cap approach than RESP, and one that takes an explicit small and mid-cap approach.

With our three satellite allocations, we opted for a more thematic approach, focusing on positive or impactful objectives.

  1. Sustainable water and agriculture, alternative energy, energy efficiency, pollution control and prevention, and green buildings.
  2. Exposure to global companies that help people prevent cardiovascular disease through healthier lifestyles and/or treatment.
  3. Exposure to companies with strong policies and practices in support of women’s empowerment and gender equality.

One of our three models is 100% equity, as summarized above. The other two have fixed income exposure as well, and we allocated across five diversified strategies, four of which are third-party solutions with explicit ESG mandates, plus an allocation to MTGP, the WisdomTree Mortgage Plus Bond Fund.


ESG can be challenging from an asset management perspective because it means different things to different people—there really is no “one size fits all” answer.

In constructing our ESG Models, we tried to integrate a broad-based approach with a more targeted thematic method that focuses on positive and impactful social and environmental objectives.

We think this resulted in Models that are diversified at the asset class, risk factor and ESG levels, and that are well positioned for long-term capital appreciation.

We are delighted to bring these Models to market. Financial advisors registered on the WisdomTree website can learn more about them at our Model Adoption Center.

We hope you will take a look.


1Environmental criteria considers how a company performs as a steward of nature. Social criteria examine how it manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates. Governance deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights.

Important Risks Related to this Article

WisdomTree Model Portfolio information is designed to be used by financial advisors solely as an educational resource, along with other potential resources advisors may consider, in providing services to their end clients. WisdomTree’s Model Portfolios and related content are for information only and are not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, accounting, investment or financial planning advice by WisdomTree, nor should any WisdomTree Model Portfolio information be considered or relied upon as investment advice or as a recommendation from WisdomTree, including regarding the use or suitability of any WisdomTree Model Portfolio, any particular security or any particular strategy. In providing WisdomTree Model Portfolio information, WisdomTree is not acting and has not agreed to act in an investment advisory, fiduciary or quasi-fiduciary capacity to any advisor or end client, and has no responsibility in connection therewith, and is not providing individualized investment advice to any advisor or end client, including based on or tailored to the circumstance of any advisor or end client. The Model Portfolio information is provided “as is,” without warranty of any kind, express or implied. WisdomTree is not responsible for determining the securities to be purchased, held and/or sold for any advisor or end client accounts, nor is WisdomTree responsible for determining the suitability or appropriateness of a Model Portfolio or any securities included therein for any third party, including end clients.

 Advisors are solely responsible for making investment recommendations and/or decisions with respect to an end client and should consider the end client’s individual financial circumstances, investment time frame, risk tolerance level and investment goals in determining the appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy, without input from WisdomTree. WisdomTree does not have investment discretion and does not place trade orders for any end client accounts. Information and other marketing materials provided to you by WisdomTree concerning a Model Portfolio—including allocations, performance and other characteristics—may not be indicative of an end client’s actual experience from investing in one or more of the funds included in a Model Portfolio. Using an asset allocation strategy does not ensure a profit or protect against loss, and diversification does not eliminate the risk of experiencing investment losses. There is no assurance that investing in accordance with a Model Portfolio’s allocations will provide positive performance over any period. Any content or information included in or related to a WisdomTree Model Portfolio, including descriptions, allocations, data, fund details and disclosures, are subject to change and may not be altered by an advisor or other third party in any way.

WisdomTree primarily uses WisdomTree Funds in the Model Portfolios unless there is no WisdomTree Fund that is consistent with the desired asset allocation or Model Portfolio strategy. As a result, WisdomTree Model Portfolios are expected to include a substantial portion of WisdomTree Funds notwithstanding that there may be a similar fund with a higher rating, lower fees and expenses or substantially better performance. Additionally, WisdomTree and its affiliates will indirectly benefit from investments made based on the Model Portfolios through fees paid by the WisdomTree Funds to WisdomTree and its affiliates for advisory, administrative and other services.

ESG investment strategy limits the types and number of investment opportunities available to the Fund and, as a result, the Fund may underperform other funds that do not have an ESG focus. Investments in non-U.S. securities involve political, regulatory, and economic risks that may not be present in U.S. securities. For example, foreign securities may be subject to risk of loss due to foreign currency fluctuations, political or economic instability, or geographic events that adversely impact issuers of foreign securities. Investments in emerging markets are generally less liquid and less efficient than developed markets and are subject to additional risks, such as of adverse governmental regulation, intervention and political developments. 

Fixed income investments are subject to interest rate risk; their value will normally decline as interest rates rise. In addition, when interest rates fall, income may decline.  Investing in mortgage- and asset-backed securities involves interest rate, credit, valuation, extension and liquidity risks and the risk that payments on the underlying assets are delayed, prepaid, subordinated or defaulted on.

Please read each Funds’ prospectus for specific details regarding the Funds’ risk profile.

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About the Contributor
Chief Investment Officer – Model Portfolios
Scott Welch is the CIO of Model Portfolios at WisdomTree Asset Management, a provider of factor-based ETFs and differentiated model portfolio solutions. In this capacity he oversees the creation and ongoing management of the WisdomTree model portfolio solution set. He is also a member of the WisdomTree Asset Allocation and Investment Committees. Prior to joining WisdomTree, Scott was the Chief Investment Officer of Dynasty Financial Partners, a provider of outsourced investment research, portfolio management, technology, and practice management solutions to RIAs and advisory teams making the move to independence. He remains an outside member of the Dynasty Investment Committee.  He sits on the Board of Directors of IWI, the Advisory Board of the ABA Wealth Management & Trust Conference, and the Editorial Advisory Boards of the Journal of Wealth Management and the IWI Investments & Wealth Monitor. Scott earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of California at Irvine and an MBA with a concentration in Finance from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.