Findings from the new survey show that two third of investment professionals responsible for pension funds, already integrate Environmental Social Governance (ESG) factors and/or a Socially Responsible Investment style (SRI) into their investment processes. Nearly half of this (48%) say their appetite for ESG and SRI has increased over the past six months.
Hendrik-Jan Boer, senior portfolio manager for ING IM’s SRI funds: “In recent years there has been a shift within the industry towards more responsible investment products. This research underlines the importance – both professionally and personally – of ESG factors. With three quarters of investors believing that the sector is important for the future of the industry, we expect the demand for socially responsible investments to grow further in the coming years and to become even more commonplace in investors’ portfolios.”
A greater reliance on responsible investment criteria was expected to bear fruit in terms of investment return over the next five years. However, when it came to the reasons for incorporating this in their investment strategy, the majority of respondents (58%) did so due to “a sense of personal responsibility”. In addition, just over half (52%) stated that it was the companies procedure to apply such criteria to investments.
In terms of the most proactive practitioners of these principles, developed economies were perceived to be the most keen with Western Europe (86%) cited by the most respondents, followed by North America (36%) and Australasia (24%). Turning to actual asset owners, pension funds were viewed as the most willing group to incorporate ESG factors within their portfolios – cited by 73% of respondents – while charities (62%) were the second most willing.
“It is certainly positive to see that investors not only believe in the social and intrinsic value of ESG factors, but also believe in the effectiveness of applying such criteria to their investments,” adds Boer. “It is encouraging to note an anticipated shift in attitudes towards ESG from simply being a filter that investors feel they should implement in their portfolios to becoming a genuinely strong investment tool in its own right.”