The Covid-19 pandemic will push more global asset managers towards sustainable investing, according to a recent sustainable fund managers’ survey by UK investment platform Interactive Investor.

Myron Jobson, personal finance campaigner, interactive investor, says: “The fact that 52% of managers believe that ESG considerations will be integrated into investment processes as standard reflects how far ethical investing has come from the recondite niches of the asset management industry and the scale of consumer demand for investments aligned to their moral beliefs.

“However, not everyone is convinced and even some of the shrewdest investors believe there is still a lot of work to be done. But in the words of Bob Dylan, ‘times they are a-changin’. Ethical concerns from plastic waste to social injustice have emerged are now form part of the zeitgeist, championed by the likes of Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough. In other words, the public is arguably less tolerant to corporate malpractice and other ESG issues now than ever before.”

The survey asked 21 asset managers in collaboration with SRI Services, a specialist independent company devoted entirely to advancing retail Sustainable and Responsible Investment.

Hamish Chamberlayne, head of global sustainable equities at Janus Henderson Investors and portfolio manager of the Janus Henderson Global Sustainable Equity and Institutional Global Responsible Managed strategies; says: “The next 10 years will be a decade of clean energy and electrification. We’re likely to see breakthroughs in battery technology and widespread adoption of electric vehicles. It will be a decade of digitalisation and hyper connectivity which will enable new ways of organising our economies and promote greater efficiency and circularity across multiple industries.

“In fact, digitalisation is one trend that we see accelerating and we have many investments exposed to this across business productivity, communication, health, entertainment, infrastructure and connectivity. The resilience of the digital economy, with many companies seeing increasing demand for their services in this crisis, has served to underline the idea that many people and businesses can lead lower carbon lives. The whole point of digitisation is that it enables greater productivity and more efficient use of our precious natural resources. We see a close link between sustainability, innovation and growth.”

Wake-up call

Ed Heaven, deputy chairman of the ESG Committee, Montanaro Asset Management, who took part in the survey, says: “2019 was the year that the world truly woke up to the climate crisis. Climate protests became global, multiple countries introduced net zero carbon emissions targets and more asset owners and asset managers incorporated objectives aimed at tackling climate change into investment strategies. 2020, meanwhile, will be remembered as the year of the global health crisis”.

“Global problems, such as these, have increased investors’ desire to allocate capital to companies providing the solutions. This is unlocking a number of exciting growth opportunities.  As such, we do not think that investors need to compromise on investment returns when allocating to “impactful” companies. This means that over time, and with good performance, sustainable investment funds can form core parts of mainstream investment strategies.”

Further Reading

What’s the impact of Covid-19 on ESG investing?

The importance of socially responsible investment

Everything you need to know about sustainable investing