Sustainability goes mainstream: Insights into investor views

May 2014
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Sustainability goes mainstream: Insights into investor views

At a glance

What do investors think about sustainability? Are they incorporating environmental and social issues into investment practices and strategies, and will they in the future? We asked investors about these issues to learn more about their perspectives.

What do investors think about sustainability issues? Do these issues factor into investment strategies and practices? Will they in the future?

Four in five investors responding to our survey said they considered these concepts in one or more investment contexts in the past year. And about 85% expect to consider them three years from now. But investors are not happy with corporate reporting about sustainability—they’re still not getting the information they’re looking for. Investors want to be a part of the sustainability dialogue. And they want direct engagement with the companies in which they invest.

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Methodology and demographics

A diverse mix of institutional investors responded to the survey: About 45% are asset managers, one-third are pension funds, and the remaining represent a variety of other types of organizations. In total, responding investors represent assets under management (AUM) of over $7.6 trillion.¹ When broken down by demographic information, some numbers are very small (e.g., number of hedge funds, number of mutual funds), and thus the margin of potential error can be quite significant. All demographic information should be considered when evaluating these results.

¹To calculate AUM, we used the low number within the range provided in survey results (i.e., for those responding that they manage assets valued at “between $25 billion and just under $100 billion,” we used $25 billion in our AUM calculation). For those who reported that they manage assets under $500 million, we used the number $1 million. For those who responded that they manage assets valued at over $100 billion, we used the actual AUM as reported in each institution’s public website. All of these values were retrieved on March 20, 2014, and if reported in other than US dollars were converted based on currency rates as of that same date.