Economic and social upheaval plus the collapse of oil prices have pushed responsible and impactful investing further into mainstream finance, affirms the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations.
The comments from Nigel Green, the chief executive and founder of deVere Group, come as the global coronavirus emergency continues and as oil prices went negative this week for the first time in history.
Mr Green says: “At the start of 2020 I said that Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing would reshape the investment landscape in this new decade – but this phenomenon has been dramatically and irreversibly accelerated by the current situation.
“Even before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, ESG investments often outperformed the market and had lower volatility over the long-run.
“What is perhaps more impressive is that those investments with robust ESG credentials are still typically continuing to outperform throughout the coronavirus-triggered stock market crashes where major indices were extremely volatile, with some plummeting 20 per cent.
“Clearly, this is going to increasingly attract both retail and institutional investors seeking decent returns in turbulent times.”
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria are a set of standards for a company’s operations that socially conscious investors use to screen potential investments. Environmental criteria consider how a company performs as a steward of nature. Social criteria examine how it manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates. Governance deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights.
He continues: “The collapse of oil prices, which are likely not to rebound to pre-crisis levels in the short-term, has also helped drive ESG investments to the top of the performance charts and keep them there.
“This is because ESG funds circumnavigate oil stocks, so their performance will not be adversely impacted by the fall in share prices.
“There is a wider and growing force behind the rise of Environmental, Social and Governance investing,” says Nigel Green.
“The current situation has acted as a wake-up call in many respects.
“It underscores that human health is reliant upon healthy ecosystems; that we need to ensure the sustainability of supply chains; and that those companies with robust corporate governance and good business practice fare better in difficult times and are ultimately best-positioned for the future.
“This growing collective awareness of mutual responsibility fits perfectly into the narrative of ESG investing.”
The deVere CEO concludes: “The collective wake-up call delivered by Covid-19 plus the search for profits in these highly unusual times are catapulting responsible, sustainable and impactful investing into the mainstream.”