It is a myth to think that sustainable responsible investing is unrewarding and decreases profits – in fact, it is the opposite. The number of investment funds incorporating ESG factors has been growing rapidly and is expected to continue rising. By the year 2021 more than 92% of Asset Owners will implement ESG criteria in their investment screening process. So, what is ESG and why is it becoming highly significant?
ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance, and refers to the three key factors that are a subset of non-financial performance indicators which include ethical, sustainable and corporate governance issues. Here are the factors which ESG addresses:
● Environmental criteria examine business performances based on natural environment (waste and pollution)
● Social criteria focus on people and relations inside the company (employee relations & diversity)
● Governance criteria look at how a company is governed (e.g. tax strategy)
How ESG investment criteria have been established
ESG caught greater attention in September 2015, when 193 countries adopted 17 measurable (“SDG-Index”) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to build international cooperation and contribute to economic sustainable development. As a result, an agreement was signed in Paris to further strengthen the sustainable belief. According to this Paris agreement which deals with reducing greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, each country must determine, plan and regularly report on the contribution that it undertakes to mitigate global warming. In order to meet the ambitious goals of the UN and the Paris agreement, the EU created an action plan to:
● Include sustainable considerations within financial decision-making
● Enhance transparency for private investors to increase private investments in ESG compliant companies and thus, deliver on ESG targets
ESG investment goals within the EU
That action plan shall enable the EU to hit the following energy targets by 2030:
● 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels
● 27% share of renewables in energy consumption
● 30% energy savings compared to a business-as-usual scenario
Currently, there is a wake of different KPIs trying to determine which corporations are sustainable. The viable question raised at this point would be on how to enhance transparency on sustainable investments. Thus, one of the main tasks of the European Commission is to implement a unique set of ESG KPIs. The implementation of these KPIs is an ongoing process but established data providers have already calculated ESG scores at a quite robust level.
ESG impact on investment returns
ESG criteria are not only important when measuring the sustainability of investments but they also have a material impact on the returns and long-term risk of portfolios. Private investments are adopting ESG measurements due to innovations in risk management practices. These innovations create new opportunities for long-term value in business and society. Businesses that adopt ESG standards, therefore, are more conscientious, less risky and more successful in their long-term commercial goals. Nowadays, ESG has become a necessity rather than an experiment. That is why various actors in the investment value chain, including investors, banks, and companies, have been increasing including ESG and sustainability information in their processes. Financial institutions and investors also check companies’ ESG criteria to screen investments and to evaluate the behavior of companies, as well as determining their future financial performance in the market.
The Fincite ESG Software for Financial Institutions
Being aware of these new developments and consistently overlooking the financial markets, we developed a Software Solution making ESG the main element for asset management. We enable investors to analyze existing portfolios according to their ESG compliance or help them to set up an ESG compliant portfolio from scratch – fully automated and utilizing data from established data providers. For more information please visit ESG Investment Software