Client demand has pushed ESG considerations out of the theoretical and into the realm of the essential. With ESG categorisations still evolving and the thinking around sustainable development goals developing clients are investing in a dynamic but uncertain environment. This session gives researchers the tools to understand client demand and match these with solutions, a process that can involve navigating contradictions in labelling at both the portfolio and individual company level.
Tony Adams, head of sustainable investment research, Lonsec
Jan Anton van Zanten, sustainable development goals strategist, Robeco
Jenn-Hui Tan, global head of stewardship and sustainable investing, Fidelity
MODERATOR: Laurence Parker-Brown, Content producer, Conexus Financial
- Financial planners are seeing a lot more interest in ESG this year as a result of the pandemic changing people’s paradigms and subsequent thinking, according to Lonsec’s Tony Adams.
- Also the variety of choice – as long as funds are well labelled and marketed – is spurring on consumers to allocated capital with environmental and sustainability concerns in mind. This creates a win/win with better outcomes for investors and the community.
- Jan Anton van Zanten from Robeco in the Netherlands said clients are often contacting him to not only generate returns, but also to pull together some kind of sustainability value. It may be a vague concept and mean different things to different people but the commonality is doing something that is actionable.
- The vast majority of delegates polled in a survey during the session feel that the risk of greenwashing is “significant”, and that there are too many products that are opaque and prone to mislabelling.
- Two thirds of assets that are labelled as sustainable deploy a negative or exclusionary screen, said Fidelity’s Jenn-Hui Tan. So the potential for future growth in ESG investing is there.
How significant a challenge do you feel greenwashing is within ESG products?
- Significant - too many products are opaque and prone to mislabelling
- Small - but it creates undue concern and mistrust for the end investor
- Negligible - there is clear choice and most greenwashing is harmless