In the current climate, with the Covid-19 crisis and the Black Live Matter movement, acting responsibly and a reputation for doing the right thing has never been more important. Individually, people have been looking to support their communities and from a company perspective the treatment of all parties from employees to customers and suppliers, has bought Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) to the forefront of our mind. In today’s social media world there is a real spotlight on doing the right thing and the social media platforms are really promoting examples of good and bad behaviours.
The prominence of sustainable investing has never been greater.
What is Sustainable Investing?
Sustainable investing requires asset managers to consider how environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are being approached by companies in which they may invest. It is sometimes referred to as socially responsible investing (SRI) or sustainable, impact, socially conscious, or principle investing, green or ethical investing. Whichever terminology you use, they are all seeking the same. An investment strategy that considers not only good financial returns but also seeks positive change in a social or environmental manner.
A sustainable investing strategy looks at what a company does as well as its ESG practices and overall investment decision-making process. While this approach is not new, its definition and objectives have evolved over the years. Historically Asset managers would avoid companies who are invested in so-called “sin stocks,” such as tobacco, firearms, alcohol, and casinos. Now they look more holistically, based on ESG factors and EU Sustainability goals. These include areas such as environmental impact (energy performance, waste, recycling etc), social issues (positive gender equality, work life balance etc) and governance quality (conflict resolution and independent auditing etc).
According to the global GSIR Review 2018 sustainable investing assets in the five major markets stood at $30.7 trillion at the start of 2018, a 34 percent increase since 2016. In all the regions except Europe, sustainable investing’s market share grew. Responsible investment now commands a sizable share of professionally managed assets in each region, ranging from 18 percent in Japan to 63 percent in Australia and New Zealand. Clearly, sustainable investing constitutes a major force across global financial markets.
Over 90 of the world’s 100 largest investment managers have committed to incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into investment decisions.*
Demand for sustainable investment opportunities also appears to be particularly high among younger investors. More than 8 in 10 millennials said they were interested in sustainable investing, according to a survey by Morgan Stanley**.
Historically, some investors have avoided sustainable investing strategies for concerns around lower performance. Studies have proved this not to be the case.
Recent research shows there is no systematic performance penalty associated with sustainable investing or ESG funds. Morningstar’s 2019 sustainable investing report found that 63% of sustainable funds finished 2018 in the top half of their respective categories (including 35% in the top quartile), helping lift 58% of funds into the top half over the trailing 5 years.
Of particular importance in today’s market, is that sustainable equity funds outperformed conventional peers in the recent Covid-19 sell off. This was mainly down to being unexposed in less ESG friendly sectors such as Oil and Gas but also due to the fact that well run ESG centric companies have better balance sheets and address environmental challenges making them more resilient in negative market conditions.
Why should you consider sustainable investing?
One reason to consider an ESG investment strategy is to align your principles with your investments.
Secondly to support companies that focus on ESG factors. According to Fidelity Investments, focussing on ESG can often ‘signal operational efficiency and lower costs, reduced environmental liability, opportunities for low-carbon revenue sources, effective management of human capital, reduced risks related to product/service safety, opportunities for an expanded customer base, financial and operational decisions that best serve shareholders, reduced risk from reputational damage or weak financial controls, and well-managed operations and costs in the face of regulatory changes’.
So, if you are interested in investing based on your principles, you should talk to use about our sustainable investing strategy.
Your capital is at risk. The value of your investments (and any income from them) can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.
*Report by Schroders: https://www.schroders.com/en/ch/asset-management/insights/studies/global-investor-study/qa-an-expert-view-on-esg-300-0005/