Evidence  that investment with an emphasis on the environment is going mainstream 

Environmentalists cheered by the huge improvements in air quality during the shutdown – and the collapse of coal-fired power generation – have another reason to cheer. Even the stock market works in their favor. 

Detailed analysis of environmentally sustainable funds shows that they outperform traditional funds – beating them throughout the pandemic as well as  the next 10 years  and including the coronavirus sell-off. 

 The data, from  global research agency Morningstar, comes amid growing evidence that  investing in the environment – once branded by city traditionalists for the vegetarian / hippie minority – is becoming mainstream. This week, Vanguard, one of the world’s largest fund managers, launched two ethical index funds aimed at British investors, while Aviva, Britain’s largest insurer, announced the fund. “climate transition”. 

 Morningstar looked at 745 sustainability funds and compared them to 4,150 traditional funds and found that they matched or exceeded returns across all categories – whether bonds or stocks, UK or overseas .

 “The average returns and success rates of sustainability funds suggest that there are no performance tradeoffs associated with sustainability funds. In fact, the vast majority of sustainability funds have outperformed their traditional peers over a range of time periods,” said Over 10 years, the average annual return of an investment sustainability fund into major global companies is 6.9% per year, while traditional hedge funds earn 6.3% per year.

Outperform activity continues during the coronavirus crisis. Morningstar said: “In all but one of the categories considered in the study, sustainability funds outperformed, with Q1 2020 average excess returns  ranging from 0.09% to 1.83 % for all types of funds”. 

One reason could be that many U.S. technology stocks, popular among environmental investors, have skyrocketed in times of crisis, while shares of oil, gas and coal companies have fallen. The Nasdaq index of US tech stocks has fully recovered  from the coronavirus crisis, hitting new highs this week, while  oil giant ExxonMobil is trading at $53 from $70 before the close. door. 

Morningstar researchers note that sustainability funds outlast their peers. One of the tricks of the wealth management industry is that underperforming funds  are quietly eliminated – often by consolidating them with another better performing fund. This has the effect of improving overall performance, showing that investors are doing better in the long run than they actually are. Morningstar found that three-quarters of sustainable funds have a lifespan of 10 years or more, compared with less than half of traditional funds. 

 Campaigners hail confirmation that sustainable funds are better. Michael Kind of ShareAction – a charity and company promoting responsible investing – said: “It’s very positive, but it’s also not surprising to see that funds with strong environmental strategies, Social and governance (ESG)  are generally more financially efficient. Investors often tell us that one of the biggest barriers to action is that they feel you will lose  financially if you switch to responsible investing. 

“But is that enough?” No… we  expect authentic and more ambitious  ESG funds to deliver better results for stakeholders and the environment, but  inevitably give investors more money every time.

Share Action Checklist to make your money more socially responsible 

  •  Research the funds offered by your retirement/ISA/investment provider. 
  • Review the holdings and management/investment policies of your funds or those in which you intend to invest. These policies outline how your wealth manager will invest your money and attempt to influence companies on your behalf. You can  do this yourself or request this information from your investment (or pension) provider/employer/financial advisor.
  •  It is important to see how your investment provider votes at the general meetings of the world’s largest companies. Do they vote for climate action and support human rights?
  • Share Action recently released an independent global ranking of the most responsible asset managers on a variety of topics. Use it to make  informed decisions when choosing a manager.  
  • Use resources from organisations like Climetrics, Boring Money, and Good With Money.
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