Four in five investors consider sustainability issues – PwC survey
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Four in five investors have looked at sustainability issues in one or more investment contexts in the last year, according to research from PwC. However, investors also cited dissatisfaction with current reporting standards.
PwC asked investors representing over $7.6 trillion (£4.5tn) in assets under management, including asset managers and pension funds, about a range of sustainability issues, including climate change, resource scarcity and corporate social responsibility.
The study found that investors are most likely to care about sustainability issues during shareholder-corporate engagement, proxy voting and when looking at their investment strategy, with over half those questioned having incorporated some areas of sustainability into their strategy. The interest in sustainability issues was particularly evident when investors were looking at issues involving corporate social responsibility and good citizenship.
The biggest driver behind considering sustainability issues was to mitigate risk, with 73% highlighting this as a reason. Failing to consider sustainability can have a negative impact on investors in the long term. For example, investing in a carbon intensive business at a time when the world is trying to cut emissions and bringing in regulation to do so, could result in lower returns and higher risk in the future.
Encouragingly, over half actively wanted to avoid firms with unethical practices and acknowledged that doing so could enhance performance. Some have argued that sustainable investment means performance sacrifice but in recent years this myth has been withering away, as more evidence against it has emerged.
Despite the growing interest in sustainable investment, investors are finding a lack of common standards frustrating and this is putting some of them off. Globally there is a high level of dissatisfaction around the sustainability-related information being provided by companies, with Europe being the only region were more investors were satisfied than dissatisfied.