Sustainable Investment at http://www.GenevaCapitalSA.com - Swiss-based Private Equity Advisor Geneva Capital S.A. Founding Partner R. Scott Arnell discusses Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), Enviromental Social Governance (ESG) & Impact Investing in Frontier Markets with Jill Malandrino on The Street, an independent US-based financial news and services website co-founded by Jim Cramer, author and host of CNBC's show 'Mad Money' (produced by NBCUniversal News Group, a division of NBCUniversal, owned by Comcast [ CMCSA ]). https://youtu.be/lToUcsegiEM Originally published January 16, 2015.
Scott, explain to us what socially responsible investment is, and where has the growth come from in this market?
Socially responsible investing, sustainable investing is an approach to investing that incorporates and integrates extra-financial data into the investment decision-making process. There are a lot of different ways that this is done, but the objectives are generally the same - that is to achieve competitive or superior market returns, while advancing the values of the institution or the investor that's behind it.
Now, it's been growing at double-digit rates all across the different categories in Europe - between 11 and 52% in terms of assets-under-management over the last couple of years.
The largest SRI, responsible investing category is exclusion, or sometimes referred to as negative screening. In that type of a strategy, the investment universe necessarily excludes investments in certain types of companies or certain types of stocks. So, examples of that would be investments in tobacco companies may be excluded or companies of cluster munitions or landmines or perhaps investment in companies that have business relations with the Sudanese government.
The fastest-growing category in sustainable investment, socially responsible investing in terms of growth, albeit from a smaller base, is impact investing and this is where the investor tries to improve conditions on a socio-economic or environmental basis through the investing process. Some examples of that might be investing in housing for low income families, or in companies that are promoting fair-trade coffee in South America or Africa.
Now the growth has always been driven in terms of absolute assets-under-management from pension funds, institutional investors and sovereign wealth funds. Where I work, in Europe, there is legislation in many countries like the UK, France, Germany that requires pension funds and public investment funds to disclose how is their portfolio is impacting social or environmental ESG concerns as well as the investment process.
Well your clients are all institutional-based, so the question of does this limit diversification where performance... it's a little bit different than a retail investor, because that would be the obvious question, there are other ways for them to improve performance, but looking at it on an absolute basis, when you employ SRI, do you lose any advantage because of less diversification or missing some of the performances of excluded stocks?
That is a very good question, and when a client is thinking of getting into SRI, socially responsible investing / sustainable investment, that is the first question that they ask, and consequently, we have looked at that a lot. There are several studies out there and a lot of work that has been done, and I haven’t seen anything that indicates that you will necessarily under-perform the market by excluding aspects in your investing universe especially with the types of industries that typically get excluded in responsible investing.
On the other hand, there have been studies out there that are promoting the idea that you will outperform the market by having responsible investing type portfolio. I don’t think the results on that are conclusive either.
At the same time, I think there's a growing consensus that companies that do integrate sustainable investing, environmental social and governance, ESG - type factors in their business model and in their management, are better-managed companies and will outperform over the long run, nevertheless most funds and businesses are reporting results on a monthly or quarterly basis. It depends on your investment horizon.
OK thanks very much Scott for joining us. For The Street in New York, I'm Jill Malandrino.